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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Presidential hopefuls look weak like 2004 Democrats

    There’s something about these presidential hopefuls. They seem so very similar. Not to one another, rather they seem similar to the presidential candidates who trotted about in 2003 and 2004. Yes, these Republicans look a lot like the Democrats that lined up to challenge to President George W. Bush.

    Back in 2004, incumbent President Bush had just endured a travesty in his first term: The Sept. 11 attacks. Despite slumping approval ratings, a struggling economy and waging a war in Iraq in search of weapons that weren’t there, Bush still defeated Senator John Kerry.

    Kerry was easily blackballed as a waffling candidate, and although he had a military background he couldn’t outrace the “unity” factor that Bush carried as fearful Americans wanted to keep the standing president in office in such uncertain times. Factor in that so many Democrats flat-out didn’t believe in the Kerry and John Edwards ticket (11 percent of Democrats still voted Bush), and Bush was served up a one sided election. To put that in perspective, Kerry got only 6 percent of Republican votes.

    Interestingly enough, Kerry still edged out Bush nationally among the independent voters, by one percent. So in other words, when looking at the national polling numbers, Bush won by having incredible solidarity within in his own party, and by being able to essentially split the fence and steal a considerable amount more of his opponents’ party than Kerry did his. However, when you look closer at “swing states,” the disparity becomes more apparent and the blowout of the election becomes more clear.

    In the infamous swing state Florida, Bush demolished Kerry by stealing 14 percent of the Democrat vote, while ceding only 7 percent and bashed Kerry’s results by nearly 400,000 more votes. In Ohio, things were a bit closer by comparison. Bush had only almost 120,000 more votes than Kerry.

    So what does this ultimately mean? A weak candidate can’t oust an incumbent. Incumbents, by the shear fact of name recognition alone, have the upper hand in elections. That’s the reason why the 2010 election was so historic, as we saw “anti-incumbent fever.” If you don’t have good enough candidates, or at least a strong enough message, you can’t beat someone who’s already got the job. Then again, it’s not like the candidates in 2010 were so great.

    All in all, when you look at the Republican lineup, it’s hard to see anything that could contest President Barack Obama. Let’s be honest, Mitt Romney might just be the best bet, although the leader of the pack changes just about every week, depending on who your news source is.

    If you want to beat an incumbent president, especially one who certainly won’t go down without an intense fight, you better have someone strong to stand behind. Ultimately, you know that Democrats will stand behind Obama, but will all Republicans stand behind candidates Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry or Romney? We’ll see, but as it looks now, whoever gets the nod had better recognize the importance of not becoming another weak irrelevant candidate like Kerry was. If you want to win, you need to convince your party first, that you’re a viable candidate.

    —Storm Byrd is the Perspectives editor. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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