Sunday, October 03, 2004

Kerry's Challenge

The Newsweek poll shows Kerry tied (statistically) with Bush. I'm not sure I believe it--when it's confirmed by other national polls, and starts showing up in the state-by-state polls, I'll be convinced. But at least there is some evidence that the debate (and the post-debate spin) registered with voters. The real challenge for the Kerry campaign is to build on voters post-debate reactions. Essentially what they seem to have reacted most negatively to was Bush's manner, his smirking and his seeming inability to think on his feet or react in non-pre-programmed ways. If the Kerry people are smart, they'll try to reinforce these impressions and connect them up to a larger message, which is that Bush isn't up to the leadership challenge of getting the right information, to knowing the truth on the ground, etc. This fits with the Kerry campaign's argument that Bush lives in a "bubble of spin." If the Kerry people can't keep hammering this point, the post-debate bump will be ephemeral, and the focus of attention will go back to Kerry's (non-fictional) flip-flopping.

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