One explanation for the Bush campaign’s recent slump

According to 18th-century American politician Fisher Ames:

A monarchy is a merchantman which sails well, but will sometimes strike on a rock, and go to the bottom; a republic is a raft which will never sink, but then your feet are always wet.

When a political party is dominated by people who obediently follow orders, it can fade fast when the order-givers blunder.

3 Responses to “One explanation for the Bush campaign’s recent slump”

  1. kevin whited Says:

    It can also fade during this time of primary season. Reagan trailed Mondale, and elder Bush trailed Kerry’s mentor at comparable times. As Morton Kondracke has frequently noted, it’s somewhat surprising that Bush’s numbers haven’t weakened more considerably, given the pounding he’s taken.

  2. Steve Says:

    Kevin: You’re right about 1984 being a worthwhile comparison, and 1980 and 1996 would be a good ones, too: In each case, a controversial incumbent defending his record. (1988 doesn’t strike me as a propos, but I can be convinced.)

    The interesting thing about comparing 1984 to 2004 is that, yes, Mondale did cut much of Reagan’s lead while the press was covering the primaries — he was about five points behind Reagan in early March — but Mondale never took the lead, and Reagan never fell below 50 percent against him in the Gallup poll.

    After the primaries were over, Reagan had a nine-point lead (52-43) over Mondale; by contrast, a Gallup poll taken after Edwards dropped out showed Kerry with an eight-point lead (52-44) over Bush.

    Also, about Bush’s campaign and the “pounding he’s taken”: The thing that seems to concern Republicans these days — and it should — is not so much that Bush is catching flak, but that his own foolish mistakes are what has brought it on. Transparent lies about consequential matters — or even about trivia like Bush’s Vietnam-era service — can be deadly when the press is watching.

    (Side note 1: Would it be accurate to describe Michael Dukakis as John Kerry’s “mentor”?)

    (Side note 2: When The New Republic needed someone to write an article about the Mondale strategy for winning the 1984 general election, who did they turn to? Morton Kondracke.)

  3. Steve Says:

    To clarify something I wrote above: Reagan never fell below 50 percent against Mondale in 1984. He had fallen below that mark against him in 1982 and 1983, and Mondale did lead Reagan in several polls during those years.

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