Saturday, September 04, 2004

The Election Comes Down to One Thing

The post-convention bounce for Bush -- which began a week before the convention -- leaves me with the following big questions:

1. Are there enough truly undecided voters left to make a difference in the outcome of the election?

Probably not, especially if the Republican base is energized to turn out in large numbers. And the base seems to be energized.

2. What -- if anything -- would change the minds of enough voters to swing the election to Kerry? Is there a scandal in the wings? Might Bush stumble so badly in the debates that his performance turns off borderline supporters? And how would voters react to a successful terrorist attack in the U.S. or against U.S. interests overseas?

Scandal-mongering at this point is more likely to backfire on Kerry than to hurt Bush.

Bush seems unlikely to stumble badly in the debates, if stumbles at all. He still misspeaks, but not as often as he used to. And his inarticulate directness is more impressive than Kerry's grandiloquent circumlocutory style.

The real joker in the deck is terrorism. A thwarted attack would be a big plus for Bush. A successful attack might cut either way.

Absent a terrorist attack, the election is now Bush's to lose.