The International Writers Magazine: USA Election Countdown
write this piece the day after the final Presidential debate of
2004. I now know who whos gonna win the election and who I
am voting for. The Green Party. Yes, Kerry won this debate, and
the other two. Senator John Edwards defeated Vice President Dick
Cheney in the VP tilt. So, why am I voting Green? Well, no person
of intellect and vision will be voting for Bush.
In four years he
has made virtually every wrong decision on every major issue - from
the wars, the economy, stem cells, etc. - to the fact that he cannot
admit hes made an error. John Kerry, at least confronted his flip-flop
issue, whether you like his defense or not, and knowing the Presidents
record is as wishy-wishy, while the President did not even attempt an
answer to his personal Achilles Heel in Debate two. Yet, I will
not vote for John Kerry. Were Edwards the Democratic nominee Id
vote for him in a heartbeat- he actually has a vision, plus he has the
balls to tear at the corporate testicles that need so much to be torn
Kerry is a nice man, a decent guy- but, hes a mummy. He has no
vision to get out of Iraq- had he vowed to at least get out on a blurry
timetable hedve scored points. He has no substantive health
plan- a little tinkering here and there. This nation has a 140 million
working people that can pool their resources and provide a low cost
pool. Kerry mentions none of that- scared off by socialized medicine
claims. As someone who has had minor recurring medical problems over
the years I know that palpably the claims that our medical system is
the best is wrong. People Ive met from Canada and Europe are aghast
when they hear stories of people postponing operations for fear of bankrupting
their families. Only in America are drug companies allowed to have no
caps on profit. Only in America is a doctors medical recommendation
contravened by a bean counter at an HMO. Only in America do the CEOs
of HMOs ride around in private jets. Only in America are healthcare
companies considered business investments, rather than public health
necessities. President Bush knows this, and likes things the way they
are. Senator Kerry knows this too, yet his health plan is a joke. 1:
It never addresses the aforementioned points. 2: It will affect only
a relative handful of people- estimates are less than 1/3 of those currently
uninsured gonna get insurance by his plan, and HMOs will still be able
to veto needed treatments. 3: Itll never remotely get Congressional
approval. John Kerry is a creature of Washington D.C. He actually enjoys
politics and its minutiae. Nothing will change.
This is why Im voting Green. I wanted to be able to vote for Ralph
Nader a third straight time but hes not gonna be on the ballot
in Texas, and I dont think write-ins are allowed. So, next Monday,
when I go to vote early, Ill be voting for David Cobb of the Green
Party. The Greens are what the Democrats once were. I saw several debates
on C-Span between third Party candidates. There was a dangerous Fundamentalist
Christian named Michael Peroutka stumping for the Constitution Party,
a humorously apt narcoleptic octogenarian Socialist named Walt Brown,
and a Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik, who seemed to value
corporate over civil liberties. Nothing consterns me more than the ceding
of noble libertarianism to these Philistines who run that party. That
leaves the Greens. I would urge others to check out their website www.gp.org
and see if we can get them above the 5% threshold to get Federal matching
funds. I firmly believe that if ex-Presidents Theodore Roosevelt (a
Republican) and Harry Truman (a Democrat) were alive today they would
be Greens. Regardless, with Texas going for W, even were I more sold
on Kerry it would be tactically smart to support an alternate voice.
As for the debates and the race for the Presidency- I think Kerry, barring
his going Michael Dukakis on the stump the next few weeks, sealed the
deal last night. He clearly defeated President Bush in all three debates.
Im not talking substance, however, because Ronald Reagan proved
that to win over the stolid and cowardly American electorate you just
have to be likable. Kerry did that in this last debate. Lets briefly
scan the debates. In #1 Bush lost big- in all polls. Kerry was in a
slump after his convention, and then going Dukakis in not fighting back
against the Bush-sponsored swiftboat lies. If youre not gonna
defend yourself will you defend this country? Remember when Michael
Dukakis infamously said hed lecture his wifes rapist on
the social ramifications of his act, as he was mid-rape? Well, ok, he
didnt say that- but he might as well have. That was it for his
chances. Kerry seemed to be going the same route.
Then the first debate- Kerry gained stature by being on the stage with
Bush, dwarfing him not only in height, but in facts, presentation, and
demeanor. Bush looked peeved, disgusted that he had to be in the same
room with Kerry. It was Al Gores 2000 Debate sighs all over again.
Polls showed Kerry won huge- almost all in double digits, with some
margins as high as 24 points. Worse for Bush was that all independent/undecided
voters gave higher margins to Kerry than mixed polls. In the Vice Presidential
debate John Edwards was supposed to get chewn up by Dick Cheney, yet
it was the VP who several times refused to elaborate on questions and
points. Edwards showed why he was an excellent lawyer. While the margins
were not as huge as the first Presidential debate Edwards was a clear
winner in virtuallyevery poll, again with independent/undecideds giving
larger margins to Edwards than the mixed polls. The biggest factor in
that debate was that Edwards won over younger, independent voters by
being upbeat, while Cheney played to the worst Democratic stereotypes
about himself, especially by not elaborating on his profiteering on
the war via Halliburton.
The second Presidential debate saw major overcompensation by Bush. He
seemed to be on speed. Kerry, however, was relentless. He boxed Bush
in and the President was reduced to aphorizing, over & over. But,
his biggest gaffe came in rudely interrupting moderator Charlie Gibson,
of ABC News. Kerrys margin of victory was smaller than the first
debateand the VP debate, but still solid, yet beyond the margin of error
in all the independent/undecideds. More importantly, in the key demographic
of uncommitted women, the President came off looking bullying &
After this debate the Bush strategy changed- it was clear there was
no way they would get the bulk of undecideds, so the best strategy is
to call Kerry a Liberal- to Dukakis him like his dad did against the
impassive governor. A high turnout means a Kerry victory, a low turnout
is Bushs only hope. But, this is not 1988, and the Republicans
strategy of voter suppression in major urban areas has tended to rile
up black voters still angry over their disenfranchisement in 2000.
That brought us to yesternights last debate, and final impressions.
Kerry merely had to maintain his looking like a viable alternative,
while Bush wanted to use scripted lines from his dads anti-Liberal
playbook. It didnt work. Despite my deep reservations about him
he gave his best performance of the 3 debates. Before this year the
President had never lost a debate in the media spin- now hes 0
for 3, with Cheneys drubbing to boot. Bush was scattershot all
evening- somewhere in the nether between his surly Debate 1 arrogance
& dickwaving Debate 2 machismo. Again, I wont even go into
substance, since, post-Reagan, substance does not matter, although Kerry
was, surprisingly, far more eloquent on religion than Bush. That said,
John Kerry is flat out the best Presidential debater of the television
era. Only JFK came close. Kerry is like an android in terms of being
able to laser in on questions & expound.
Bush supporters were kicking themselves for their many proscriptions
for the debates, saying that this inadvertently helped Kerry stay on
focus, & theres some truth to this, BUT, I dont wanna
think about the bloodbath that wouldve occurred had the candidates
been allowed to follow up, challenge, & question each other. The
rules DID benefit Bush in that they allowed him to minimize the damage.
With them these debates were a late round TKO, or lopsided unanimous
boxing decision. Without them, well- Little Big Horn! What makes Kerry
so good is that hes not only a relentless automaton of facts &
composure, but, unlike- say Jimmy Carter- hes an amoeba. Wherever
you hit him, he surrounds you, goos your logic with a fact you not only
did not even know, but were clueless as to having a provenance- he cites
obscure Congressional reports, pundits from your own side, & is
never fazed. Hes the best of Jimmy Carter & Ronald Reagan
in the debates. Bush, meanwhile, hyperventilated several times, &
showed, in these debates, hes the anti-Carter, but not in the
In his debates against Reagan Carter overthought things- in effect,
he was too smart, & could not dumb himself down. Bush, however,
simply lacks the facility to think things through- he flies by the seat
of his smirk. A few months ago I said this race reminded me of the 1980
Carter-Reagan race, & that it would be close until the last weekend,
when there would be a big swing Kerrys way. I believe I was prescient
& will be vindicated, even though I thought Kerry had folded his
sales before the debate. Why will there be a swing? Because the undecideds
will probably go 3-1 for Kerry. With an undecided base of 8-18 percent
thats a 4-8% swing difference in what seems an otherwise dead
heat. Taking the minimum 4% swing, tossing out 2-4% that go for 3rd
parties & youre left with a 50-46% or 51-47% Kerry popular
win, & I think my 80-100 point electoral swing will prove closer
than the 2000 rerun most predict. Simply put, back-to-back close elections
are rare, & incumbents usually win or lose big.
Here are the poll #s for the last debate.
CBS had it 39-25% Kerry only using undecideds, CNN had it 53-39% Kerry
with an even Republican/Democratic split at 36% each, while, most tellingly,
ABC gave it 42-41% Kerry with a 38-30% Republican advantage.
On style Kerry won this debate with a bigger margin than Debate 2. The
image is hes pulling away. Yes, despite my reservations about
Kerry, & decision to go Green, theres no doubt, to the middle
ground, that Kerry won the debates on substance, too. All he has to
do is stay on focus & pounce upon the increasing desperation of
the Republicans. Bush has the worst economic record since the Great
Depression- worse than the Nixon-Ford-Carter years, lied about WMDs,
has gotten 1000+ American soldiers needlessly killed, saw his neglect
lead to 9/11, & just promises 4 years of the same. Kerry should
be winning big- were Clinton running this race would never have been
Yet, Kerry now sees the path to victory and he only needs the
steeliness of his debate demeanor to pull him through, because most
undecideds, like me, will choose him, not Nader nor the Greens. Heres
where he sealed the deal, and if he does win, it will stick out as the
There you go again/Youre no Jack Kennedy moment of
the four debates. In the final question the candidates were asked about
the women in their lives and the President turned on the charm hes
been accoladed for- stating hes learned to listen to his wife.
It got the first round of applause of the night, and some laughter.
Then it was Kerrys turn. Bush seemed to feel he might sneak off
with the debate with that final moment. Surely the automatonic amoeboid
would Dukakis himself. No, he parried with an even funnier line, that
got a better reaction, he said, We both married up. Some would
say me more than others. That was the final nail in the coffin.
Even the President couldnt control himself, and burst out laughing.
Kerry is not Dukakis, and this Bush will, like his dad, be first term
His Liberal label will drive away undecideds who want substance.
I learned an interesting fact from several tv talk shows, PBS, and C-Span.
After a final debate an incumbent President never has gained voters.
I.e.- his final post-debate numbers of likely voters never increases,
theyve either remained steady or lost- swing voters always go
for the challenger. Ill bet that among likely voters Bush gets
no higher than 47% post-debate, and thats his ceiling in the popular
vote. As for the electoral college? Heres the current wisdom (with
electoral votes), and how I think itll play out:
New York- 31
|21 States - 172
states & DC- 168
I agree with all
the solids. Bush leads 172-168. I think Kerry will retain his 32 leaning
votes and Michigan should become a solid Kerry state. Bush, however,
has twoproblems. First, if Colorado splits its electoral votes, which
seems likely, even a win means four less votes. Also, I think Kerry
might sneak off with Arizona- with a popular Democratic governor. By
2008 this will be a majority Democratic state, due to Hispanic influx.
But. lets give all the votes to Bush, minus four in Colorado.
That leaves Bush at 213, & Kerry at 204.
Out west I think Oregon makes a Pacific Kerry sweep, and New Mexico
goes Kerry, theyre a few years ahead of Arizona demographically.
Bush takes Nevada. That leaves Bush at 218, Kerry at 216. In the upper
MidWest, Kerry will take Wisconsin, and just slide by in Minnesota-
their urban areas enough to tip the balance to Kerry, while the more
rural Iowa goes slightly Bush. This leaves Bush at 225, & Kerry
in the lead at 236.
That leaves Florida- 27, New Hampshire- 4, Pennsylvania- 21, Ohio-20,
& West Virginia- 5. I now wanna look at a Bush best case scenario-
because these five states are the real keys out of all the rest. The
economy is the biggest issue in the three blue collar states of Pennsylvania,
Ohio, & West Virginia. I just dont see Bush winning these
three states. West Virginia went republican last time, in an oddity,
Ohio has just been killed economically, and Pennsylvanias two
big urban centers of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh will trump the Pocono
Republicans. Those 46 electoral votes give 282 to Kerry, with 269 needed.
At best, Bush takes Florida and New Hampshires 32 for a 256 electoral
vote total. Even if Colorado rejects splitting its electoral votes and
a Bush wind thats still a 278-260 Kerry win.
But, if Kerrys momentum can continue, and he stays relentless,
hell win bigger. Lets give back the four electoral votes
from Colorado and were at 282-256 Kerry. My gut tells me New Hampshire
will complete a New England sweep for a 286-252 margin. But, I think
one o fthree other things will happen. When undecideds go in to vote
they will look at the last 34 years and ask the old Reagan query- if
theyre better off than four years ago- something Kerry should
have articulated. I think Arizona can break for Kerry- thats 296-242.
Also, Iowa may just go the same way for a 303-235 Kerry win.
If thats not the case then the Republican suppress the vote strategy
may backfire, and nowhere will that harm them more than Florida- where
folks are already angry at the slow response time of the Federal government
to their hurricane trifecta. If Florida goes for Kerry then the 286-252
for Kerry swells to a more comfortable 313-225 margin. Thats,
to me, the most likely scenario, I see Kerry getting to 300 electoral
votes. Bush can only win by taking Florida, either Ohio or Pennsylvania,
and hoping Minnesota turns. I dont see it. However, Bushs
relentless negativism could lead to a significant shift. Only Kerry,
in the last debate, spoke of what he would do in the next four years
that would not be like the last four, while Bush promised more of the
same. A worst case scenario- which I would rate a 20% likelihood- is
this. Kerry retains his leaning states, while Arizona and Colorados
full 9 electorals go Kerrys way. Of the swing states, Bush can
only nab Nevada and Iowa- that leaves Bush at 210 & Kerry at 328-
not quite a blowout, but, if that happens, it could make for a national
shift toward Democrats, at least Presidentially, and would be the fourth
consecutive popular Democratic win.
Regardless, there is some irony and symmetry in this election, because
I think itll be a sort of quarter-century bookend to the Carter-Reagan
election. Islamic Extremism (Ayatollah Khomeini) led to the assumption
of Right Wing Extremism in this country. Had Carter won, a likelihood
save for the hostages, Reagan and the Far Right would have been devoured
by the Bush, Sr.-New England patriarchs. Just as 9/11 was the last dying
spasm of Islamic Fundamentalism before it caves in to McWorld, so it
is apt that another Islamic Extremist (Osama bin laden) topples the
American Far Right. Very interesting, as Curly Howard would say. I say,
Lets go Greens!
© Dan Scheider Oct 15th 2004
all rights reserved