The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Saturday, July 31, 2004

KERRY, GORE, BUSH AND VETERANS

Mark Kleiman has a post up about Kerry's support among veterans compared to Gore's. He notes a study showing that Kerry's vet support is no higher than Gore's.

Kleiman concludes:
That doesn't mean Kerry's emphasis on his service record is a mistake: the audience for that is much wider than veterans. But it isn't good news.
Let's think about this a little more.

The journey from 2000 to 2004 isn't exactly a straight line.

In 2000, Al Gore was the Vietnam vet (a reporter, but he was there, and therefore could have been killed), while George W Bush was a towel-snapper from the Texas National Guard who may or may not have skipped out on several months of duty in Alabama (though the media didn't exactly get into that in 2000). The vast Bulk of Bush's military cred (and thus, veteran cred) came from the positive public association of Republicans and the military that existed at the time. And Gore's campaign did not talk very much about the military, the focus was mostly domestic and economic. The result? Bush held a modest lead over Gore among veterans.

In 2004, like it or not, Bush is a "war president" in the sense that he is irrevocably associated with military action. Afghanistan and Iraq changed perceptions of Bush, no matter what anyone thinks of those actions and how they were conducted. Going by that, it would be logical to see a relative increase in Bush's vet support compared to what he had in 2000. The result? Bush holds a modest lead over Kerry among veterans.

Despite Kerry's record, I didn't expect to see Kerry overtake Bush among veterans. But I was guessing he would keep it close, and close he has kept it. And it hurts me down to the bone to say this, but it may not have been this close with Dean.

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