Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Will John Kerry Ride Into A Western Sunset And Take The Democratic Party With Him?

I have theorized that an early Bush-Cheney win determined by East Coast voting would likely have an unusually large and negative effect on Democratic turnout in the West - and therefore have an unusually large positive Republican coat tails effect throughout the West:
[I]t seems likely (and at least plausible) that Kerry-Edwards' supporters would be unusually and disproportionately disheartened by an early and big Bush-Cheney win because so many supporters of Kerry-Edwards don't like "their" candidate anyway. A post-win vote just evidences the voters affirmative support for the loser, and there's not much of that to evidence on the Democratic side. Once Mr. Bush wins, there's no point in voting against him. If that perspective is correct, Kerry-Edwards supporters should stay home much more than is usual (compared to other elections) and much more than Bush-Cheney supporters (in this election). ... [E]lections are normally driven by the race at the top of the ticket. If Kerry-Cheney supporters stay away in droves, Democrats will likely be adversely and seriously affected all down the line. ... Western voters have more of a chance to evaluate Eastern voting patterns before deciding whether it's worth a trip to the polls - which should tend to exaggerate the turn-out consequences. ... John Kerry's aloof personality, a personality that is already hard for a lot of New Englanders to take, is even less sufferable in the West than it is in the rest of the country. ... I therefore strongly suspect that Western Kerry-Edwards supporters are even more disproportionately voting against Mr. Bush, and not for John Kerry, than is true in the rest of the country. If my suspicion is correct, Western Democratic turnout should be even more reduced by a big early Bush-Cheney win. My expectation is that a big and early win for Bush-Cheney ... would translate into a particularly large Republican "coat tails" effect, especially in the West - even in California.Of course, we don't yet know that there will be such a big and early win.
The aftermath of the first presidential debate provides additional support for my earlier theory, as expressed in this remarkable passage from Dan Straight (link thanks to Kausfiles):

[T]he debate reenergized some of Kerry's previously demoralized base on the coasts, but didn't help him much where it counts. This renewed excitement among the base would also explain why there are suddenly a lot more Democrats in many national surveys.But remember, a decent chunk of Kerry's base really doesn't like him - they just hate Bush. When Kerry looks like he might get rid of Bush, they get excited and tell pollsters they're definitely going to vote. When it looks like Bush will probably win, Kerry's base disappears. I think this explains why there have been a few wild swings in the polling despite the fact that there really aren't many swing voters. It's not (so much) the people in the middle who are switching between Kerry and Bush (pace Mark Penn) - it's the people on the far left switching between Kerry and none of the above.
Of course, some (but not all) polls taken in the aftermath of the first debate suggest a reduced chance of a large, early Bush-Cheney win. Questions have been raised about the methodology, and therefore the accuracy, of such polls (do the Democrats who were defending the "party-norming" pollsters who "normalize" for party identification on the assumption that it is essentially fixed still cling to their defenses?). But Mr. Straight also points out that there is reason to doubt the significance of such post-debate polls even if one accepts their accuracy.

Read the whole thing.

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