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Thursday, October 21, 2004
The Toast-O-Meter Returns!

By Steven Taylor @ 8:58 pm

-Rounding-up, analyzing and handicapping the 2004 election-

Texas Toast or French Toast?
Tracking the race to the White House.

After a multi-week hiatus (indeed, just over a month), the Toast-O-Meter is back. The goal from here on out is to have two more 2004 Toast-O-Meters: one next week and then the Final Toast on Election Day.

With less than two weeks left in the contest, both candidates are feeling the heat, but with neither clearly qualifying as toast at this point in time.

The weakness of the Kerry candidacies continues to be manifest: despite the clear vulnerability on the part of the President, Kerry has yet to seal the deal. The fact that his campaign has long lacked a clear theme (“We’ll Do Better” isn’t a theme, it’s a platitude at best) has clearly made it difficult for voters to be drawn to his cause. And while it perhaps oughtn’t to matter, his personality doesn’t help his cause.

A clear indication of his lack of theme is his constant shifts of focus on the campaign trail. The latest examples: social security and the flu vaccine. Neither of these issues were on the edge of the radar a few weeks back, but Kerry is willing to shift at a moment’s notice to whatever vulnerabilities he perceives at the moment, only to drop them when the news cycle gets tired of the tale. Now, on the one hand, this is smart politics, if one has something else that is foundational in one’s campaign. If the strategy is simply to hope for some bad news to exploit this week, then the thinness of one’s platform becomes rather obvious.

Of course, this is the candidate who, in his convention bio film, started his reason for running for president was that he was “frustrated”. (And they say Poppy had a problem with the “vision thing”). Indeed, the strategy for Kerry all along seems to have been a resume-driven one (a la Bob Dole) rather than one based on a specific vision for the country. Of course in Kerry’s case resume means Viet Nam and a lengthy, but somewhat hollow Senate career. The most noteworthy elements in his biography are his four and half months on the swift votes and his post-war protests (and the latter is more prominent than the former). For a wholly analytical viewpoint, the weaknesses he brings to campaign are pretty clear.

I note this because it is equally clear that Bush is a beatable incumbent. However, the combination of Kerry’s personality (which is not endearing), his lack of philosophical clarity and vision both linked to his problematic biography have made it difficult for Kerry to capitalize on the President’s position.

As such, I predict that Bush will win, but narrowly. The main fear that I have is that the lawyers will cause a boatload of problems before the winner is declared (to the detriment of our democracy).

This week’s reading of the Toast-O-Meter has Bush slightly ahead, as the general poll situation favors him slightly, and for the above-mentioned weaknesses on Kerry’s part. Kerry scores some Wonder Bread for being able to use the debate (specifically the first one) to quell doubts that had been growing about his candidacy. Bush gets the edge because despite the tight polling, Bush still has commanding leads in multiple polls on the terrorism question, which I still maintain will be the issue that turns this election.

Kerry also gets some flames for his inconsistency and his Mary Cheney gaffe. Bush gets some heat over his debate performance-wherein he could’ve landed some serious hurt on Kerry, but instead let his opponent capitalize on the event.


(Of course, some of these have been on the heat so long, they taste more like burnt coffee than freshly brewed)


    • Bush Says Kerry Doesn’t Understand Terror War

    • Kerry Mocks Bush War Leadership
    • Bush Vs. Kerry: Tackling the Threat of Nuclear War
    • In Bush’s Vision, a Mission to Spread Power of Liberty [RSS]

    • Voters in 10 States Likely to Ban Gay Marriages. This could matter because it could boost conservative turn-out in states like Michigan.
    • Divergent Views of Iraq Defining Election


    • This flu vaccine thing has become something of an issue. While I understand the basic issue, I am quite unclear as to precisely why it would be the job of the President of the United States to gurantee that everyone gets a flu shot or to guarantee the activities of a British manufacturing plant. Still, it have people upset, includingMark A. R. Kleiman. Also, Kerry Ad Says Flu Vaccine Shortage Is Typical of Bush’s Policy Blunders. Meanwhile,Kevin Drum ponders the whole issue and provides links aplenty.
    • Flu Vaccine an Issue in Presidential Race
    • Cheney Got Flu Shot, Aides Say, Citing Heart Issue
    • Lawmakers getting flu shot sparks debate

    To some degree this function as a substitute for the abortion debate. However, the main purpose of the stem cell debate for Kerry is to raise the spectre that Bush is a religious luddite who will place arcane doctrine over science and saving lives. Of course, Edwards took the entire discuss to the level of sad parody and/or cruel expectation generation when he said “"If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve will get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.” That has to rank as one of the most shameless statements in the history of American politics, not to mention a blatant exploitation of a man’s death.

    • Kerry Promotes Expanded Stem Cell Research
    • Bush, Kerry Tangle on Health Care, Stem Cells.

    • Kerry Calls for Science, Tech Investment

POLLING (And we all now how painful that can be).

  • What the polls are telling us.
  • Some key red states are still hard to pin down.
  • Polls Apart.
  • Poll Shows Split Views on Iraq War.
  • WaPo: Charting the Campaign.
  • Eight states, 99 electoral votes draw focus from Bush, Kerry
  • Yahoo! News - Analysis: 8 States May Decide Election
  • For all the polling and Electoral College Info you can take:

    • Daly Thoughts and Dales’ Electoral College Breakdown 2004

    • Election Projection - 2004 Edition
    • RealClearPolitics.
    • The Hedgehog Report

KILL ALL THE LAWYERS (The Shakespearen section)

No doubt the biggest problem we face is the potential unleashing of 1000s of lawsuits during the election, so as to turn demoracy into litagation. I fear this more than any other outcome on election day.

  • Election Protests Already Starting
  • Both Sides Ready to Mount Legal Challenges to Election Results.
  • Florida Under the Magnifying Glass.
  • Candidates prepare for recount.
  • Lawyers Keep Eyes On Election, Polling Places May Be Challenged.
  • A look at lawsuits, voting problems and other ballot issues around the country.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign
  • The Command Post - 2004 US Presidential Election linked with The Toast is Back in Town
  • The Glittering Eye linked with The Toast-O-Meter is Back!
  • linked with Toast
  • Accidental Verbosity linked with For the next to the next to the last time...
  • Backcountry Conservative linked with Pre-Election Toast-o-Meter
  • Simon World linked with Enemablog
  • VodkaPundit linked with Linkfest and Kleenex
  • Simon World linked with Enemablog
  • The American Mind linked with Butter Please
  • bLogicus linked with Toast-O-Meter Rounds-Up, Summarizes Pre-Election Status
  • Dean\’s World linked with Toast-O-Meter
  • Dean\’s World linked with Toast-O-Meter
  • Accidental Verbosity linked with a pingback
  • Teacher\’s Ramblings linked with Toast-O-Meter Returns
  • Outside The Beltway linked with The Toast-O-Meter Returns!
  • Overtaken by Events linked with Toasty Warm

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  1. Gosh, where to begin. First, glad you’re back. Second, I disagree that Bush is clearly vulnerable.
    The only “vulnerability” I see is which lie the DNC spouts that isn’t rebutted quickly enough. People don’t feel comfortable with Kerry, and I think that will carry Bush to a decisive win.

    Comment by Ron — Thursday, October 21, 2004 @ 10:42 pm

  2. Don’t get over confident Ron. While I certainly agree with you… You have to realize that this isn’t an election between President Bush and John Kerry. This election is between President Bush and the War on Terrorism. It is about whether or not any particular voter voting will support going after the Terrorists or backing down due to casaulties. A lot of ‘weak heated’ Americans are going towards John Kerry, not because of John Kerry, but because in a war there are casaulties.

    Comment by Jeff MacMillan — Friday, October 22, 2004 @ 4:22 pm

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