Ten Reasons Why Bush Will Win 

With just three months to go, guessing the winner of this year's presidential election is like choosing between red and black at the roulette table. It's that close. Still, I'll put my chips on President Bush to end up on top in November—with a slight majority of the popular vote this time—for the following reasons:

1. We're at war. Given the choice, American voters are loath to remove sitting presidents from office during wartime. George W. Bush is the horse that has pulled the country this far across the stream since the terrorist attacks, and even though it's been a bumpy ride at times, voters are unlikely to trade him in now.

2. Foreign affairs are again important. Republicans fare better in presidential elections when voters have foreign policy on the brain, just as Democrats usually enjoy an advantage when domestic issues are the major public concerns. After the Cold War ended in the early 1990s, Bill Clinton benefited from the nation's vacation from foreign affairs in 1992 and 1996. So did Al Gore in 2000. The pendulum has swung back with gusto—to the Democrats' disadvantage.

3. The economy is on an upswing. The national economy is not exactly surging, but things are moving in the right direction. Unemployment is dropping. The stock market is coming back. Home ownership among Americans is at an all-time high. Consumer confidence is higher than it's been in two years. If all or most of these trends continue, President Bush reaps the benefit, as incumbents usually do.

4. Bush has tended to his political base. In today's Republican Party, Bush has two major constituencies he must please to maintain his natural base of political support: business-oriented types and Christian conservatives. Bush has managed to cater to these groups on the issues that matter most to them right now: the tax cut for the business side and support for a constitutional ban on gay marriage for the Christian conservatives. Unlike his father, "W" has remembered to go dancin' with the people who brung him. He'll be rewarded accordingly.

5. Democrats aren't wild about Kerry. Quick, name a Democrat who is really and truly excited about John Kerry. Other than maybe Bob Tuke, I can't find anybody. Neither, I bet, can you. The excitement about John Kerry among Democrats in February was that he was not Howard Dean. The excitement about him among Democrats now is that he is not George Bush. Just when will Democrats actually get excited about John Kerry for being—you know—John Kerry? From the looks of things, never, because, as more and more people are discovering by the day...

6. John Kerry is a terrible candidate. What was the major knock on Al Gore in 2000? He spoke condescendingly on the stump with a robotic voice that would have put his listeners to sleep had they not been filled with the urge to rush up to his podium and pummel him mercilessly with a tire iron. What is the major knock on George W. Bush? He's a filthy rich Ivy League type motivated by a sense of personal entitlement who does not understand the needs and concerns of average Americans. And who possesses all of these traits in one neat and tidy package? John Kerry, a man so politically obtuse and emotionally self-centered that he uses part of his acceptance speech to speak of his own birth in the "west wing" of a maternity ward as an omen of things to come.

7. Bay State blues. This may come as a surprise to some people, but the state of Massachusetts doesn't exactly scream political moderation to the typical American voter. More Americans identify with the Texas of George W. Bush than they do with the only state that went for George McGovern in 1972. Fair or no, the role John Kerry's home state will play with middle-of-the-road voters should not be underestimated. It's a bigger negative than many people realize, and the gay marriage issue doesn't help matters any.

8. "Bush Sucks" is not a winning message. Remember Bob Dole running around shouting "Where's the outrage?" about President Bill Clinton in 1996? Well, there wasn't much "outrage" among independent voters about the incumbent president then, and there really isn't much now. Are there some concerns? Yep. Some reservations? Sure. But outrage? Not really, and swing voters will be turned off by the rhetoric this year, just as they were eight years ago.

9. The South goes GOP. It's imperative for Democratic presidential candidates to make inroads in the South to get to the White House, but right now pretty much every Southern state is solidly in the Bush camp. The three exceptions are Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida, and those three are certainly attainable for Bush. Kerry's pairing with North Carolinian John Edwards doesn't remedy this situation, since Edwards can't even deliver his home state, much less the rest of the region. If Kerry goes 0-for-the-South—and he may do just that—he probably loses.

10. There's no Ross Perot. Wittingly or not, Independent candidate Ross Perot helped Bill Clinton beat George H.W. Bush in 1992 by siphoning off many of the blue-collar and middle-class conservative types that Republican presidential candidates must have to win. These were voters unhappy with the sitting Republican incumbent but wary of the Democratic challenger. With Perot on the ballot, these voters had an outlet. This year they don't. That means most will probably hold their noses and reluctantly vote for Bush as the less discomfiting choice under the circumstances (see No. 1). While this won't exactly be a ringing endorsement of the president or the policies of his administration, it will be enough to give him a second term in the Oval Office.

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