|Man Without Qualities|
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose XXVIII: Justice Morris Dissents!
Dick Morris reads the same new poll results considered here in the post immediately below and deduces that the President is in deep, deep bandini (or, as John Kerry might say, "Brandini"):
BOTH of the polling organizations that track the presidential race in daily surveys have concluded that the contest has settled into a stalemate. ... This "tie" is terrible news for the Bush camp. One of the (very few) immutable laws of politics is that the undecided vote almost always goes against the incumbent. Consider the past seven presidential elections in which an incumbent ran ... [and] look at the final vote versus the last Gallup or Harris polls. ... So . . . when Bush and Kerry are tied, the challenger really has the upper hand.
More bad news for Bush: Democrats usually grow 2-3 points right before Election Day as downscale voters who have not paid much attention to the election, suddenly tune in and "come home" to their traditional Democratic Party moorings. ....
What happened? Iraq. The surprising casualties of this disastrous month let Kerry skate by the avalanche of attack ads relatively unscathed. And by now, Bush may have lost the ability to define Kerry. Lying behind the bad news for Bush is his inability to appeal to women in the campaign. ... Women disagree with the entire Bush strategy of fighting terrorism. ... To bounce back, Bush obviously has to staunch the bleeding in Iraq. But he also has to appeal to women voters as he did in 2000... If Bush permanently alienates women by his words and tone in the War on Terror, he'll throw away the issue that he needs to carry him into a second term.
Mr. Morris' column seems to float in some nearly contextless never-never land. He focuses on poll results from old elections and his favorite "undecideds go to the challenger" law, which he's applying way too early. Has he really reached the point where someone has to point out to him that the election is six months away - but his "immutable" law of politics that the undecided vote almost always goes against the incumbent holds only very close to the election - once the electorate has had a chance to study both candidates and all the information is in. Indeed, in presenting his own evidence, he notes: look at the final vote versus the last Gallup or Harris polls. And, slathering the lily of inconsistency, Mr. Morris just a few lines later cites another rule: Democrats usually grow 2-3 points right before Election Day as downscale voters who have not paid much attention to the election, suddenly tune in. So, which is it? Are people going to move or not? Are the large numbers of "upscale" voters who don't "know" John Kerry supposed to ignore what they learn in the next six months? Is everybody supposed to be numb to the warmth of an economy and job market that are still heating up? If so, why? If the whole country is so "50-50" then why the heck did over 60% of California voters voting in the recent recall election vote for a Republican? California is supposedly a fixed "Democratic state." Could we have a little explanation here?
There's nary a reference to the dynamics of what's happening today or been happening in the economy or the Commission or the liberal media - or really even Iraq, although the column purports to focus on Iraq. ("What happened? Iraq.") In fact, Mr. Morris addresses only the effect of recent developments in Iraq on women voters. That male voters - Mr. Bush's "base" - are more likely to be permanently lost if he took a softer line (indeed, many of them already view his approach as too soft), where the effect on women voters will probably mitigate as election day approaches, is ignored. Also ignored is the fact that women generally focus more than men on the domestic economy than on foreign developments in their voting. And the domestic economy is improving. Indeed, a real significance of the new poll numbers in Mr. Morris' terms is that the male/female balance has been struck with Mr. Bush in the lead, a fact Mr. Morris also ignores by depending too much on the nearly-discredited Zogby poll over other available polls. Mr. Morris' concluding line ("If Bush permanently alienates women by his words and tone in the War on Terror, he'll throw away the issue that he needs to carry him into a second term.") is an embarrassing tautology that mostly serves to indicate that Mr. Morris is actually aware of the male/female balance he has pointedly ignored. Of course any politician who "permanently alienates" too many women voters hasn't got a chance. For this we need Dick Morris? What about the rest of what's going on in the world - and will likely go on?
And why is Dick Morris deferring to "BOTH of the polling organizations that track the presidential race in daily surveys have concluded that the contest has settled into a stalemate." Isn't concluding whether that kind of thing has happened in this election exactly what Dick Morris is supposed to be doing for a living? What's his value-added? Maybe Alan Greespan will follow Dick Morris' lead and start deferring to some unsolicited financial newsletter to determine what Fed policy should be.
A few weeks ago Mr. Morris was predicting a big Bush win. Now he's all doomy-gloomy on the basis of a hilarious amateurish and incomplete analysis. For all that, Dick Morris is a very, very smart man and a very, very good political consultant. But these wildly swinging "predictions" are sure to gut his credibility if he keeps it up. In that sense, perhaps he really is deferring to John Zogby on a deep level - but one that will make reading Dick Morris irrelevant.
Gosh, it all makes one wonder what the girls put in the toe polish Mr. Morris has been sucking lately. Or maybe he's saving the good stuff for some candidate who's hired and paying him better than the Post? Are we witnessing the effects of ongoing Zogby-Morris merger negotiations? Yikes! Yuk!
At least Mr. Morris' analysis leads to one possible answer to a question pointedly raised by the Wall Street Journal today:
We'd hardly object if this new deference to the U.N. guaranteed more foreign troops. But last week Mr. Annan ruled out the return of a large U.N. presence until security improves. French President Jacques Chirac has already said that even an international force dedicated merely to protecting the U.N. itself is "totally out of the question." So in return for giving up authority, we get exactly what?
Mr. Morris says: Offered a choice between "letting terrorists know we will fight back aggressively" and "working with other nations," men opt for fighting aggressively by 53 to 41 percent while women want us to work with other nations instead by 54 to 36 percent - a gender gap of 30 points. If that's correct, perhaps "we" (that is, Mr. Bush in the election) hope to "get" more women. In my personal experience, that's generally a pretty good result if you can make it happen - even if the women one "gets" are of the multilateral persuasion.
AN ASIDE: Gee, when did it become more fun to whack Dick Morris than Paul Krugman? All that silly interest rate nonsense. Do we really need to read Herr Doktorprofessor telling us that he thinks interest rates will be what he thinks they mostly have been in the past - and citing authorities he's previously made clear he thinks are complete incompetents? Snooooooooooore. Where's the old libelous instinct, Herr Doktorprofessor? Mr. Okrent got your tongue? If one wants some reasonable interest rate predictions, I'd head to Grant's or Don's.
Why can't Herr Doktorprofessor at least tell us how he would apply some of his home-grown "home market effect" hooch to the outsourcing controversy - at least with respect to software. Software supposedly enjoys all the rich economies of scale goodness that makes a monopolist so happy (ask Microsoft!) but at least in some of Herr Doktorprofessor's papers is supposed to lead to big exports from the "home market" country.
Hey! Doesn't that mean that the US should be exporting a lot of software? Maybe too much? But, wait! Monopolists "underproduce" their products (that is, produce less than the efficient level). Does one "underproduce" by exporting to the whole world? How does all that fit with complaints about US companies importing software from, say, poor old India (the Democrats' favorite whipping boy these days on foreign trade, it seems)?
Why won't Herr Doktorprofessor Paul Von Krugman come back from the international trade dead and tell us all, he will tell us all!
MORE: Good stuff. And, Tom, despite the obviously partisan tone here I'm being flintily objective here - not normative. Sheesh.
STILL MORE: Howard Kurtz puts in his two cents. But he and all the commenters he cites still miss what seem to me to be critical facts, including the fact that two huge factors are moving the campaign steadily towards the President: (1) the positive reaction of many people to the President from the ongoing warming of the economy is not yet fully reflected in the polls and (2) the negative reaction of the many people to Senator Kerry who don't "know" him once they do get to "know" him is not reflected in the polls. The economy may worsen unexpectedly or John Kerry may unexpectedly find some way to make himself likeable or broadly admirable - but the key word here is "unexpectedly."
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