July 27, 2005

20/20 2004 Hindsight

Despite the fact that it's reliving the past and most people have "moved on", so to speak, I'm interested in what you feel to be the mistakes of the 2004 Kerry campaign.

What do you think the campaign should have done differently?

What were the primary factors in Kerry's loss?

From the standpoint of the race being Kerry's to lose, just how did he let it slip away?

And as a bonus question, who, if anyone, do you think would have won if they had been the nominee rather than Kerry?

Bottom line: Why did Kerry lose?

Explain your reasoning.

28 Comments:

At 7/27/2005 6:22 AM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Kerry had a complex message and a complex way of delivering it. I agreed with everything he said but I am not the average voter. I read as much as I can about what is going on. The average voter only reads the headlines and listens to quick soundbytes.

Kerry lost the headline and soundbyte war in the press. Bush stayed on message. And since Bush is not very bright it was easy for him. He kept repeating the same simple stuff over and over and over like a trained parrot. And those who fed it to him were brilliant. They knew the right buttons to push to get the uninformed majority all riled up and out to vote.

The Dems need to take a page out of history and find a way to do this with the issues important to us that have broad appeal to the average guy sitting on his couch who worked a double shift and is not sure if he wants to take the time to go out and vote or not.

Lots of people are disenfranchised with our system and feel disconnected. Somehow, Bush and co found a way to connect with a simple message and they stayed exactly on target and on message. They barely did it but they won. Ohio could have had illegal activity with precincts and the long lines but it slipped under the radar and the Dems did too little there too late.

Kerry just could not compete. He kept explaining himself like a thoughtful and intelligent candidate which I loved, but he missed the mark. The people got confused and went for the simple guy with the simple little line they could remember and the charming little "albeit evil" smile that kind of lulled them into submission.

Presto, we get a dufus for President. Many who voted for Bush would never admit it today.

 
At 7/27/2005 6:56 AM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

5 paragraphs!?

More like 2 words.

He lost because they convinced people he was a flip flopper, and found a good word/image to repeat over and over and over and over.

"flip flop"
Bush wins

 
At 7/27/2005 9:20 AM, Blogger diehard said...

I really cant say. I dont know that Kerry could have done anything differently than he did.
he was a good candidate I thought he looked very presidential.
But for some reason Americans have been sold the idea that we dont want anyone from the senate to be president.
Why is it such a great idea to bring in an outsider who knows nothing about Washington?

 
At 7/27/2005 9:55 AM, Blogger diehard said...

Also the millionare thing. To a lifelong class warfareist like myself it was hard to put up with his wife. I'm not a Teresa hater I actually liked her. She didn't take any crap from anybody.
But she really did not help him.
And maybe Kerry himself had the attitude of a millionare, with his body sufing,fancy Harley, and designer hunting gear.
Its like when you sign a baseball player for 10 million a year. What's his insentive to win?
Bill Clinton actually neede the job. He was like a boxer that was hungry...woops sorry thats two sports analogies in one posting.

 
At 7/27/2005 12:55 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Good points Diehard. Except for Teresa - I met her and I liked her a lot. So what if she is a strong woman who won't take any crap? Men are gonna have to get used to that more in the future.

As for QC Images - see my point exactly proved by your response. You bought into the crapola that Bush was spooning out to the public.

Gee it's easy to be duped if you don't read up on what's going on. I suppose you believe the swift vets too. Sorry Images, either you always hated Kerry or you just weren't sure and the Bush message was just easier to get. Too bad too sad for you and all of us.

5 paragraphs is what I want to print and that's what I will do until the Dope cuts me off.....

 
At 7/27/2005 2:06 PM, Blogger youngridemocrat said...

For young Democrats like myself, I think the question is what did Bush do to win? Answer: say and do anything it takes, including ripping to shreads John Kerry's legitimate and courageous service to our nation. I think the Kerry Campaign completely misunderstood the nature of their opponent, and how low their opponents would go.

On the other side, Kerry won more votes than any Democratic candidate for President in the history of campaigns. He did a lot right. He should have dropped, however, that tendency to assume every audience member was a member of the U.S. Senate.

The Bush Campaign was better at directing sharp and clear and patriotic messages.

But what's patriotic about running up the biggest deficit in the history of our civilization?

That's what Kerry should have been saying, instead of trying to explain a 9-point plan every day.

 
At 7/27/2005 3:23 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

Ugh. You've apparently not been paying attention to any of my posts here Maybesomeday... I'm certainly a Kerry fan. A huge one, actually... he was my favorite before the caucus, but I never expected him to get the nomination. Even though I have no political affiliation I was able to shake his hand on a downtown Davenport street corner. Try that with Bush.

I was just explaining why I believe he lost. I'm not saying it was even remotely right that he got beaten by ignorant people slapping sandals together, but I believe that's how it happened. People were easily brainwashed, and the GOP was happy to repeat the phrase flip flop every 3 seconds until he lost.

 
At 7/27/2005 3:27 PM, Blogger youngridemocrat said...

I think QCIMAGES is right ... the GOP was better at repeating a very simple message: flip, flop, flip, flop, flip, flop, ad nauseum. I guarantee you the conservatives were not paying attention to Kerry's plan to cut the deficit in half, revive the economy, reduce crime, improve our foreign policy, cut our dependence upon foreign oil, invest in our workforce, improve health care and cut government bureaucracy.

NO -- that would have taken too much time and energy.

Flip, flop, flip, flop -- that's much easier.

Sad commentary on this country and its voters.

 
At 7/27/2005 4:13 PM, Blogger Dave said...

You guys can't even agree why your candidate sucked. Better figure it out before the next go round

 
At 7/27/2005 4:50 PM, Blogger DownLeft said...

In a close race like that one there are always a million things you can point to that might have made the difference. I'll point out two that I think were most important and will be important to remember next time.

First, he voted for the Iraq war. I know the clueless East Coast media and Democratic political establishment all said we had to nominate someone who supported the war in Iraq so that we look tough on defense. Ironically, the vote that Kerry and others took to ensure they were safe presidential candidates is what undermined his campaign.

Voting for the Iraq war made it impossible for Kerry to effectively criticize the basic premise and unjustness of the war. Any time Kerry criticized the war it made him look like an indecisive flip-flopper, which means people could not see him as a leader. If we had nominated someone who had opposed the war early on they could have attacked Bush for his incompetence and lies without looking like a hypocrite. That made a huge difference. The leading political establishment of the party who told us Kerry was the most electable are completely clueless. Next time we should ignore them.

Second, Kerry wasn't defeated by Bush as much as he was defeated by the media. When a majority of Bush voters can go into the voting booth believing that Iraq was tied to 9/11 and that we had found weapons of mass destruction, then there is something seriously wrong with the news media. Republican control and manipulation of the corporate media is a huge part of why they defeated Gore, Kerry and how they keep down unions. We should keep that in mind as we prepare for next time and do something about it now.

I think John Edwards or Bob Graham could have won. Graham because he voted against the war, could carry Florida, and appeals to moderates. Edwards was stifled as a running mate and would have been far more effective at the top of the ticket. His populist appeal would have won a lot of support in the south and Ohio. Edwards-Graham or Edwards-John Lewis would have won by a safe margin.

This was really the time when we could have won with a populist, anti-war, anti-nafta liberal and we blew it.

 
At 7/27/2005 4:55 PM, Blogger DownLeft said...

I will add that Kerry's position on trade is another case where having a candidate with the moderate "safe" position hurt us. Kerry's support for NAFTA and the WTO made it impossible for him to deliver a strong message about job losses to trade without looking like a flip-flopper.

A more clear, and more strongly voiced fair trade message about the loss of jobs to free trade would undoubtedly have made the difference in Ohio where that is a huge huge issue. Once again, the east coast party establishment has no clue about how to win elections in the hearltand. We should ignore them in the future.

 
At 7/27/2005 8:18 PM, Blogger diehard said...

Dave
And your saying your candidate didnt suck? Don't drink the bong water man!

 
At 7/27/2005 9:49 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

To Dave....

We may differ in our opinion of why our candidate lost, but we are all in agreement that Bush sucks like a black hole in space. That's not too tough for any honest, reality-based person to figure out.

 
At 7/27/2005 10:06 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

... and I must say that I echo DownLeft's opinions almost 100%. I too believe that the right had Kerry in a box from the get-go with his war vote, and figured out how to use it against him. Then tragically, he stepped on a land mine and handed them the issue when he gave them "I voted against the war before I voted for it." (of course it was used out of context and was unfair... but it was still devastating.) He aided and abetted the right in establishing the "flip-flop" meme.

And the role of the media is giving Bush white glove treatment vs. giving heavy play to every bullshit RNC blast-fax should never be left out of any analysis.

Bush's statements never added up, his proposals were mathematically impossible, yet the press never said a word.

Also, the multi-million dollar Swift-liars effort was a major factor, and should be included in any analysis as well. The entire thing was demostrably and proven to be false and utter contemptible bullshit, and this even got some, though little, media play. But it was adhered to and repeated so often, so steadily, and got so much free media just from idiot cable talking heads discussing it ad nauseum that it truly had it's desired effect, which was what would have been unthinkable in any other time, namely that Kerry's very biggest asset, his heroic and patriotic service in the military, and his even more courageous and patriotic role in organizing non-violent opposition to the war after he returned, was amazingly perverted into his service being portrayed as almost never happening, that he lied his way into all his medals, and that he had it easy in 'Nam somehow, completely ignoring the fact that no matter what, he had volunteered for duty and served in an extremely hazardous combat area, had led his men valiantly and that every single one of his crew, including Republicans, came out and vouched for his accounts. And his actions after the war were used to portay him as nothing less than a traitor.

This was simply unbelievable, and the Kerry campaign and the press sat by while it happened and did nothing.

And what happened when Bush's proven avoidance of combat, desertion and dirilection of duty was reported? The entire thing blew up over the fact that a couple documents were supposedly forged.
They made that the issue, completely ignoring the fact that even WITHOUT those particular documents, there was ample evidence that Bush simply decided he didn't have to fulfill his guard duty, failed to report for a required physical likely because of the liklihood that drugs would be detected, and then showed up once or twice to get things wrapped up.
His campaign lied and covered things up repeatedly, his commanders stated they never saw him on duty, and despite offers of tens of thousands of dollars to anyone who would come forward and say they say Bush serve during the year in question, to this day, no one has claimed it.
That was all swept under the rug.

Just stop and consider the way Kerry's true service was perverted, a man who opposed the war yet served in harms way, and the way Bush's direlection of duty was treated, a man who was gung-ho for the war yet found a way to avoid having to go to 'Nam and didn't even finish his obligation in the states. It's mind-blowing.

 
At 7/27/2005 10:36 PM, Blogger Dave said...

Blah, blah your guy was a dud and everyone knew it. He stood for nothing, had no solutions and didn't understand common folks.
You bunch of turds should have stuck to your guns and stayed with the maniac Dean. Maybe Hillary will save you.

 
At 7/27/2005 11:54 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Blah blah, our guy was a principled war hero, an incredibly accomplished man who had always stood up for the very best of American values and strengths.
Your guy was an incurious illiterate who was born on third base and thought he hit a triple.
He's never accomplished a damn thing except being a coke-head and a lush until his Dad finally set him up with some oil companies, which promptly failed and were bailed out by ... you guessed it, Daddy's Saudi pals, and others.
He was a losing candidate for office and then latched onto Karl Rove (Whom Bush calls "Turdblossom")who got him elected to the most weak governorship in the United States where he presided over a state that routinely placed near dead last in numerous catagories such as children in poverty, polution, crime, corporate/government corruption, etc.

Stay smug Davey, but I can't respect anyone who gloats about having elected an umitigated failure as President.

I..and many, many others, know that history will judge Bush Jr. as one of the very worst president's in our nations history. The evidence is all around you if you'd only pull your head out of Rush Limbaugh's cyst filled ass long enough to breath.

 
At 7/28/2005 12:31 AM, Blogger LL Cool T said...

Bush won because he got more votes counted.

New Mexico Bush 376,930
Kerry 370,942

Bush wins 5 electoral votes by 5,988 votes

Nevada Bush 418,690
Kerry 397,190

Bush wins 5 electoral votes by 21,500 votes

Iowa Bush 751,957
Kerry 741,898

Bush wins 7 electoral votes by 10,059 votes

This total of 37,947 votes out of 121,068,715 would have shifted the electoral college by 17 votes making it a 269-269 tie in the electoral college.

Ohio 2004 Bush 2,859,764
Ohio 2000 Bush 2,294,167

Ohio 2004 Kerry 2,741,165
Ohio 2000 Gore 2,117,741

Bush won Ohio in 2000 by 176,426 and Bush won in 2004 by 118,599

Kerry increased the Democratic vote total by 673,424 over 2000 and Bush increased his total by 565,597. 1.2 million more Ohioans voted in 2004 for the Democrats and Republicans than in 2000.

The total vote nationally increased from 101 million in 2000 to 121 million in 2004.

Kerry's message that this was the most important election of our lifetime was universally recieved and increased turnout by 20% over 2000.

The Democrats as a party have failed to recognize that even though people are born as Democrats we must do a better job of early childhood education because I have no rational explanation as to why people who have nothing and no future identified themselves with the Republicans and went and voted for Bush cuz he's cool man, going to kill some commies, or muslims, or terrorists, whatever, until its their brother or cousin or friend who is killed in action. We gave people a reason to go vote, but unfortunately Karl Rove out hustled us on the ground in Ohio, Nevada, New Mexico and Iowa. We better get back to the grass roots and fast and win back the House of Representatives in 2006 because 269-269 looks like a real possibility in 2008.

And yes John Kerry will resign from the Senate and run for President and both parties will nominate a woman to become our next vice president, maybe Mary Landrieux of Louisiana delivers their 9 electoral votes.

Other than the fact that Rove beat us at our own game with the GOTV and got the votes counted at the polls; the two biggest blows to the Kerry campaign were Dan Rather and the rest of the media blowing the National Guard story on Bush being AWOL and John Edwards delivered zip, nada, nothing to the ticket and spent all of his time preaching to the choir instead of winning new votes where we needed them. I met him and watched him from behind the scenes during the campaign and he was a fake made for TV guy who turned it on when the cameras were rolling and didn't always know when they weren't. Sen. Graham or Amb. Richardson would have been much better. Hell, Al Sharpton would have delivered more votes than John Edwards!!

I also wonder about why Laura Bush's covered up vehicular homicide of her boyfriend was never brought out in the mainstream media. She is an evil woman can't you just see it in her eyes that pierce your soul.

 
At 7/28/2005 6:47 AM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

All good points of course II cool.

And yet the Republicans don't ever stop. Last night on Fox they were having a discussion on issues.

When the talk heated up over some hot issues - the usual - death penalty and abortion and the corrolation between the fact many are both pro life and pro death penalty. Some boneheaded woman with no brain speaking for the right said "what about chappaquiddick?"

Dam, that's all they have? And they keep going back to it? this is just so typical and so stupid. Yet people buy it - they forget the original issues and sieze onto something that has NOTHING to do with anything they are talking about.

So I guess even a moron like that woman can be trained in Rovian tactics. This is scary since we see it daily and more and more.

There are really stupid people out there getting face time on TV using their 30 seconds of fame to muddy up the real issues and keep that mantra going for the Right wingers.

There is no time for thoughtful debate on the points of importantance. No, they want to bring up anything they can that is 180 degrees different yet a hot button to change the subject whenver they get any heat.

95% of the time, pro lifers want to go to the prisons and "fry em" and "hang em high" just like their hero Bush. Bush never met a death sentance he didn't like and he never reversed one while he was Gov of Texas!!

 
At 7/28/2005 8:42 AM, Anonymous puzzler said...

The reasons Kerry lost are complex, but his opposition to the Vietnam War after he had served was difficult for the WW II generation to understand. It's the same today: people have a hard time grasping the concept that someone can "support the troops" while believeing our presence in Iraq is ill-conceived.

 
At 7/28/2005 9:59 AM, Blogger DownLeft said...

ll cool t wrote: "John Edwards delivered zip, nada, nothing to the ticket and spent all of his time preaching to the choir instead of winning new votes where we needed them."

Edwards wanted to spend more time in rural areas and swing states where he could have made a bigger difference. Decisions about where to send him were made by top Kerry and DNC staff. You can't blame Edwards for that. Edwards potential to help the ticket was also weakened because he was asked to drop his two-americas theme and not outshine Kerry. Edwards did help the ticket and could have helped much more if the Kerry campaign had been willing to use him more effectively.

One reason our GOTV wasn't as effective as the Republicans is that our GOTV and voter registration was done by a dozen different 527's and 501-3c's that couldn't legally coordinate their efforts with eachother or with the campaign nor could they explicitly tell people to vote for Kerry. McCain-Feingold hurt us.

 
At 7/28/2005 10:01 AM, Blogger DownLeft said...

"but his opposition to the Vietnam War after he had served was difficult for the WW II generation to understand."

I don't know about the ww2 generation but there are some Vietnam vets who are still seriously bitter about Kerry speaking out after the war. That is what motivated most of the swift boat liars for Bush group. I met the top few organizers of that and it became obvious that for them it was about what Kerry did after he got back from Vietnam, not what he did while he was there.

 
At 7/28/2005 10:22 AM, Blogger Dave said...

Here's why you lost.

Q: Mr Kerry, what is your plan for Irag and fighting terrorism?

A: Go to my website.

It really is just that simple.

 
At 7/28/2005 1:05 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

So you're people are too stupid to figure out "the internets", as Chimpy calls it?

Anything more than a sound bite policy to handle an incredibly messed up and complex quagmire is enough to make a candidate suspicious?

In other words, you're saying that Americans were too damn stupid to vote for Kerry.

I see.

 
At 7/28/2005 2:05 PM, Blogger Dave said...

I'm saying, he didn't answer the question and neither did his website.

I'm saying he had no coherent plan to deal with the threats we face.

I'm saying he was a stand for nothing do nothing Senator.

I'm saying pick a candidate who is not an elitist East Coast liberal Senator. (pay attention Hillary)

 
At 7/28/2005 4:36 PM, Blogger SENOR MF BADASS said...

He lost because more voters wanted Bush to be President than wanted Kerry to be President. Those voters weren't too stupid to see through Bush's evil, twisted plans to make his oil buddies richer, they just didn't like what Kerry had to say. You may sugarcoat his positions and call them nuanced... but the fact remains that he had very little in the way of core values and people don't trust that.

 
At 7/29/2005 8:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read the latest Harper's. He didn't lose.

 
At 7/31/2005 8:50 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

We need someone kickass to go into Ohio and find out what the he--- happened there last fall!

 
At 8/01/2005 7:01 PM, Blogger Dave said...

Yes, someone kickass, like.......like Durbin, or ....Dean you know, one those kickass guys.

 

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