“I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy.”

June 17, 2004

Remember the classic Saturday Night Live sketch from 1988 with Jon Lovitz and Dana Carvey playing Mike Dukakis debating George H.W. Bush, the one in which Lovitz/Dukakis ends up exasperated by Carvey/Bush’s inept, banal rhetoric and says, “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy!”?

Well, 2 things today reminded me of this sketch:

First (via Kevin Drum), I see that Andrew Sullivan (everyone’s favorite thoughtful, openly gay conservative pundit) has posted this on his blog early morning today:

My only dilemma now is whether to support Kerry or sit this one out. It still is.

Later in this same early-morning batch of posts, Mr. Sullivan elaborates:

Could it be that Bush has not governed as a conservative in critical ways – and hasn’t even governed competently in others? Let’s list a few: the WMD intelligence debacle – the worst blow to the credibility of the U.S. in a generation; Abu Ghraib – a devastating wound to to America’s moral standing in the world; the post-war chaos and incompetence in Iraq; an explosion in federal spending with no end in sight; no entitlement reform; a huge addition to fiscal insolvency with the Medicare drug entitlement; support for a constitutional amendment, shredding states’ rights; crusades against victimless crimes, like smoking pot and watching porn; the creeping fusion of religion and politics; the erosion of some critical civil liberties in the Patriot Act. I could go on. Is there any point at which a conservative might consider not voting for Bush? For the editor of National Review Online, the answer is indeed “fairly obvious.” But for people not institutionally related to the G.O.P., the only question is: where would that line be?

How can it be that the Democratic Party in general and John Kerry in particular cannot win Mr. Sullivan’s support?!

Second (via Billmon), seeing this deliciously detailed poll by Stanley Greenberg (author of the influential The Two Americas), led me to ask, “Why–oh why!–must we be cursed with the following discrepancy?”:

8. Overall, do you think the country should continue in the direction Bush is headed or go in a significantly different direction?
Among self-described…

“Independents” —
Continue in Bush Direction (Strongly Agree): 23% (16%)
Go in Significantly Different Direction (Strongly Agree): 67% (42%)
Don’t Know / Decline to State: 9%

“Liberal and Moderate Republicans” —

Continue in Bush Direction (Strongly Agree): 56% (38%)
Go in Significantly Different Direction (Strongly Agree): 34% (18%)
Don’t Know / Decline to State: 10%

6. Thinking about the elections in November, if the election for President were held today and the candidates were Republican George Bush and the Democrat John Kerry — for whom would you vote — George Bush or John Kerry?

Among self-described…

“Independents” —
Bush: 36%
Kerry: 36%
Other: 3%
Undecided: 22%
Don’t Know / Decline to State: 4%

“Liberal and Moderate Republicans” —

Bush: 79%
Kerry: 14%
Other: 2%
Undecided: 6%
Don’t Know / Decline to State: 0%

Note how the percentage of “independents” who have concluded that the country should go in a “significantly different direction” than “the direction Bush is headed” is 5% higher than the percentage of independents either for Kerry, still undecided, or don’t know/won’t say. Note that even more alarmingly the analogous discrepancy for “liberal and moderate Republicans” is 14%.

************
UPDATE 4:05 AM: Now that I look at it, there’s even a 5% discrepancy for self-described “conservative Republicans” that a highly optimistic Democrat might think are swayable. And speaking of potentially swayable, look Ralph Nader’s current support in this same poll:

7. If the candidates for President were Republican George Bush, Democrat John Kerry and Independent Ralph Nader, for whom would you vote?

Support for Ralph Nader among self-described…
Liberal Democrats: 8%
Moderate and Conservative Democrats: 4%
Independents: 13%
Liberal and Moderate Republicans: 7%
Conservative Republicans: 2%

************

How can it be that John Kerry can’t just win these people’s support already and walk away with this election in a landslide?

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