Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Whither the Zeitgeist?

Are there larger national forces working to skew these off-year elections, forces in some cases assuming forms of local avatars? Some races may be more significant than others in manifesting such forces.

Florida. "Jeb is gone!"was briefly Terry McAuliffe's proud rant. "There won't be anything as devastating to President Bush as his brother's losing in Florida."

But Despite calls for maddened Democrats to storm the Florida polls to avenge Jeb Bush's supposed electoral shenanigans in both the 2000 election and the Democratic primary earlier this year (where he was widely predicted to punished for voting machine errors in Democrat-heavy counties), according to the Washington Post, he is doing better at this point than in his last run, and a poll conducted jointly by a Republican and a Democratic firm on behalf of the St. Petersburg Times and the Miami Herald showed McBride trailing Bush statewide, 51 percent to 43 percent. Another new poll shows Bush leading McBride statewide by 6%.

In North Florida, where Democrats have hoped their candidate's medal-winning military service would be a boost, McBride was running a bit weaker than Bush's 1998 opponent at the same point in the race. That was also the case in the South Florida Democratic strongholds of Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

So much for Governor Bush being punished for voting machine problems.

UPDATE: OpinionJournal has more on Florida.

New York. One would expect any effect of the September 11 disasters to be most felt in New York. The New York Times has endorsed Republican George Pataki over Democrat and widely thought Clinton-proxy Carl McCall.

California. California is often thought to be a leading indicator of many trends. The Los Angeles Times says that the inept Bill Simon trails the corrupt and incompetent Gray Davis by 36% to 45%. Put another way, the incumbent Davis is still quite a bit shy of the 50% mark that is supposed to mean he is not in trouble - despite Davis' spending many millions of dollars on attack ads savaging Simon and Simon's own inept handling of the race. Of course, there are also some good reasons for thinking Simon may not enjoy the usual challenger's advantage among the undecided voters in this race - especially his 60% negative impression rating in the same poll (although this compares to Davis' 56% negative).

I am certainly not saying that this election will necessarily be good for conservatives or Republicans. For one thing, I continue to believe that polling data in this election is much more suspect than in the past. And while the large drop in consumer confidence reported today could be an election wild card, the stock market's ability to absorb and reverse the effects of such news in a single day also matters.

All in all, I believe there is a good chance that these three elections suggest a trend.

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