Friday, October 01, 2004

Kerry Wins; Bush Drinks From Empty Glass

John Kerry won last night's debate. Did he win because he actually offered cogent and intelligent remarks rather than canned one-liners way older than their expiration date? Did he win because President Bush couldn't control himself, couldn't help repeatedly curl his lip in frustration, stare into the audience or forget that the glass of water he grabbed from under the lecturn was already empty before attempting a sip? No, No, No.

John Kerry won because he looked so very presidential. What does that mean exactly? Reporters and pundits like to use the word "gravitas" to describe what Kerry exhibited last night. By the way, I've never read or heard this word in any arena other than politics. Gravitas refers to someone with high seriousness; dignity; importance.

Kerry showed us all of that. He stood tall and confident on the stage in Coral Gables. When Bush leveled one of his convolated charges the networks split screen allowed us to simulataneously see Kerry interrupt his note-taking and slowly raise his head and glare at the President. There was no evidence of a sneer or ill-will in Kerry's demeanor, but moreso a boxer who accepted a good punch but had an even better one planned.

Bush did many things to accentuate this forming a gravitas for Kerrry, too. Did he not look like someone who completely dreaded the entire debate? There were very few times that Bush actually used up his alloted speaking time. On other occasions, he showed over-exuberance in stepping over Kerry's responses only to offer nothing and again squandering all his given time.

Simply put, Bush made me nervous when he spoke. I found myself actually thinking, "Please stop talking. You're going to say something really embarrassing."

Now, with one debate down and two to go, it seems we still have a horse race even despite the vapid polling that has been trying to tells us otherwise.

Let's be honest, Kerry still has much to prove to the electorate. A presidential election with an incumbent is like a heavyweight title fight. The challenger must not only beat the champ put also knock him out. He hasn't done that yet.

Here are some things we must watch in the next month:
>>The role of women voters
>>The movement of indenpendent voters
>>The participation of young, first-time voters
>>The Attitude of the Electorate

The axiom in American politics is that women voters take the longest to decide whom they are voting for. They tend to want all the facts up until the last moment before deciding. We need to be encouraged by what some polls are saying regarding Kerry's performance and female voters.

Of course, the reason we never see either candidate in California is because of those elusive indie voters. In an ABC News poll that was weighted by using 35% Democrat and Republican voters and 30% independent voters, Kerry won the debate, 46-35. If you take into account that most polls will tell you that Bush receives nearly 90% approval from his party, you can gather that he solidified his 35% in that poll with Republicans. Subsequently, Kerry garnered his larger margin from the indie group of respondents. Of course, this poll can be easily discounted, but it did march in line with other networks' polling.

Young, first time voters are the sleeping giants of this campaign. I worry that a Kerry lead or perception of victory might hurt Kerry. When voter turnout is high, it is always good for Democrats. When turnout is high and saturated with a heavily liberal block such as young people then it's wonderful. I believe the exclusion of these rabid Kerry followers to be the reason why so many polls rate Bush slightly higher than Kerry. How is Gallup or Zogby or CBS News going to contact first time voters or college students living in an age where the cellphone is ubiquitous? "Yo, one second, there's a pollster on the other line. I'll call you back."

In an incumbent presidential race, the focus must be on on the sitting president. The electorate must collectively determine whether Bush is up to the job of four more years. I believe we are at that point presently. If they say no, they will focus on whether the other guy is up to the job and make their decision. Last night, John Kerry showed America that, yes, you can see me as your president.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

AND, you can't negate the underlying strength of the newly naturalized immigrant vote. Since the war, there is a rampant hate not only for the US but W (Dubya) in particular. This may be the weapon of mass destruction that W was afraid to find yet has been dormant in our own country, aside from the huge arsenal of nuclear weapons that we are already storing. And yet, we won't allow N. Korea to keep theirs?!?
And the youngins! They do hold the key to the future. Of course, I'm a bit biased since I am a HS teacher!