Steven Den Beste has some (long) thoughts on what the Bush campaign is up to, how they seem to be holding things in reserve, and why they really will not open up on Kerry until September. He explains why Kerry is deeply vulnerable and why he cannot win (assuming a few things). Very thoughtful and agreeable. A couple of lines: "So what I conclude is that the next Bush ’masterstroke’ is going to be the November election. The Republicans and the Bush administration have been biding their time, and conserving their money. They have been carefully accumulating political ammunition and have resisted the urge to expend any of it too soon. They’ve laid the groundwork for a very effective campaign this autumn, and the Democrats are going to get routed."
"The Republicans are carefully preparing the groundwork for a full-scale assault on his greatest weaknesses. Once they open up active hostilities, it’s actually going to end up being very much like the other Bush masterstrokes, where everything changes permanently and no one can again look at the fundamental issues the same way."
My view is similar to this. The Bush campaign is not in a tentative mode, it is in strategic preparation. They are ignoring the polls and they are right to do so. Besides, a careful analysis of the polls show that the polls (even if they are in Bush’s favor) are not especially meaningful because there are too many variables. USA Today/CNN/Gallup and FOX News/Opinion Dynamics has the race running exactly even. The Los Angeles Times has Kerry up by only 2% whereas they had him up by 4% a month ago.
Only Wall Street Journal/NBC pollsays that only 41% of the voters hold favorable views of the Democratic Party (compared to 46% positive just before the 2000 Demo convention). This is not good for the Demos. Will Kerry get a 15% bumb in the polls following next week’s convention (as Gore got in 2000)? I don’t think so. In fact, I will say that he will get no more than a 7-10 point jump. The most important fact in any of the polls--in my opinion--is this: who do the voters think would do a better job on the war against terrorism? Bush consistently wins by large numbers, FOX says that 50% think Bush will do a better job on the war against terror, while only 35% think that Kerry would. Is this likely to change given the increasingly complicated and frightening news coming out of places like Iran and North Korea? Kerry has not given anyone the impression that he is willing to attack his low numbers in this regard, save to say that he would like more international cooperation. That is not an argument. Bush continues to maintain a huge lead when voters are asked who would be the stronger leader (Bush 50%, Kerry 31).
Let me take this opportunity to remind you that the best place to catch up on the latest polls (all the polls), political commentary, and all such matters, is RealClearPolitics. Starting about now, if you are a political junkie, you should visit it a couple times a day. Oh, and dont ignore their "Commentary" section. Very good and useful stuff, clarly laid out.