On Wednesday, ABCNews.com's The Note declared, "this is now John Kerry's contest to lose," following up on a recent Charlie Cook column that noted just how bad Bush's numbers are, especially among undecided voters. I realized this back in June, when I prepared my remarks for a panel discussion at Hamilon's alumni weekend. As I reviewed Bush's re-elect and job approval numbers, the deteriorating Iraq situation, the fitfully recovering economy, the failure of his campaign to "knock out" Kerry early, I realized that not only could Kerry win, he probably would. My suspicions were confirmed, when during the discussion, Phil and I heard one anti-Bush comment after another from a group of mostly elderly alumni. Hamilton is a notoriously preppie school, and its older alums are famously Republican. If these people were angry at Bush, he was in real trouble.
If Bush loses, how will conservative Republicans react? Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush, the last two GOP presidents to be defeated, were hardly favorites of the Right. Conservatives have never had to deal with the defeat of a president they liked (well, not since Herbert Hoover).