This is at least two months too late. Readers will have to take my word that I thought exactly the same thing (in terms of the numbers I am predicting) two months or more ago, when the polls were much closer than they now are. But anyway; better late than never. I want to see how much of a "political prophet" I can be. Here are my predictions, for the record:
Bush: 32 states
Kerry: 18 states
Bush: advantage of about 60 electoral college votes (no "Florida fiasco" this year)
Here are some of my reasons:
1. The Southern vote will be key in the electoral college. The South has voted increasingly Republican since 1968. Clinton was an exception in the Presidential races, because he was a Southerner and pretended to be a "good ole boy" moderate; even a conservative in some ways. The same was true for Jimmy Carter (and he had the assistance of the Watergate scandal). But the South will not be fooled by a Senator from Massachusetts, with the most liberal record in the Senate. Besides, Bush was raised in Texas. Bush will take almost all of these states. Gore even lost his own home state of Tennessee in 2000. If he had just won that, he would have won the election.
2. The ludicrous, largely-irrelevant Kerry "Vietnam hero" convention strategy has obviously been a dismal failure (even beyond the swift boat vets controversy). People are concerned about the problems today with world terrorism, which are quite different from the old Cold War, with its hot spots in Korea and Vietnam. They observe what Bush has been doing and they agree with it. People are skeptical of Kerry's effort to make it appear like he is some sort of "liberal hawk." It's absurd: the man voted for the resolution to use force in Iraq; now he is against it. He has flip-flopped all over the place. Democratic Senator Zell Miller put it best. After recounting about a dozen weapons systems that Kerry voted down, he asked (paraphrase), "what does he expect the military to use, spitballs?" Kerry has no plan to speak of to fight terrorism. All he can do is criticize every jot and tittle of Bush's plan. This won't do (to put it mildly).
3. People also know that Kerry is a liberal. It has become (especially this year) a ridiculously transparent game that the Democrats have been playing ever since Carter in 1976: pretending to be moderates and being publicly ashamed of what they really are: political liberals. When they run as what they are: unashamed, unabashed, old-style leftist, self-righteous, more compassionate / smarter-than-thou liberals (with 60s radical elements increasingly predominant), they lose (and lose big): McGovern: 1972, Carter II: 1980, Mundal; oops, Mondale: 1984, Dukakis, 1988. When they pretend that they aren't liberals, they win or come very close to doing so: Carter: 1976, Clinton I: 1992 (but then only because of Ross Perot taking away G.H.W. Bush votes), Clinton II: 1996, Gore: 2000.
4. Kerry's major dilemma (closely related to #3) is that he hasn't clearly shown what he believes and stands for. He tried to run as some sort of moderate, but now that the polls have tilted heavily towards Bush, he is going back to Howard Dean-style orthodox liberalism. The problem is that this is an era where such indecision and cynical spin doctoring won't play anymore. It is a post-911 world. The usual Democrat, Clintonian, chameleon-like political games just won't fly. Bush is who he is. Kerry, very much like Bill Clinton, sticks his spit-covered finger up in the air every day to see which way the wind is blowing, and assumes that persona for that day. It ain't gonna work . . .
5. No Senator from the Northeast has won in 44 years (JFK in 1960; and he was quite conservative by today's standards; he cut taxes and was an avid anti-Communist, even to the extent of commencing our involvement in Vietnam). In fact, no former Senator from anywhere has won since 1964 (LBJ), and that was only after he had been Vice-President and then President due to JFK's assassination. Every victor from 1964 on (for whatever reason) was either an incumbent President, Vice-President, or a Governor.
6. Every post-Kennedy Democrat who has won the Presidency has been from the South (LBJ, Carter, Clinton). Even then, there were fairly clear, "deciding factor" reasons for victory: the "sympathy" vote in 1964 (LBJ having been JFK's Vice-President, Watergate, and Ross Perot's hijacking of the G.H.W. Bush II campaign due to a personal vendetta: Clinton only received about 41% of the vote in 1992, and only 49% in 1996).
7. Bush has the advantage of incumbency (which even got Clinton re-elected after folks knew he was an inveterate liar and womanizer, and Nixon re-elected despite Vietnam and the beginnings of the Watergate scandal), and a high approval rating. He wins the character and leader "sweepstakes" hands-down.
I could think of more reasons, but dinner awaits, so that will be sufficient for now . . .