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Purple People Watch

Florida. Florida is never far from the minds of either campaign's top strategists, but Floridians had bigger fish to fry than the presidential campaign this August as the state suffered much devastation at the hands of Hurricane Charley. Conventional wisdom has it that then-President George Bush Senior and then-Governor Lawton Chiles both suffered mightily at the polls for what was widely seen as an inadequate response to 1992's Hurricane Andrew, so both Bush brothers pulled out all the stops last week to show that they feel hurricane victims' pain. According to an August 20-22 USA Today /Gallup Poll, they succeeded, with 70 percent of respondents expressing satisfaction with this year's hurricane response. So does George W. Bush have it in the bag? Hardly. The same Gallup Poll gave Bush an ultra-narrow 48 percent to 47 percent lead in a poll with a 4-point margin of error, while an August 21 Zogby poll gave John Kerry a similarly thin 50 to 49 lead. Message: In Florida, at least,...

Purple People Watch

Arizona. Is Arizona really still purple? That's the question on everyone's mind these days. When last we checked in, the state's rock-star senior senator, John McCain, had just reverted to good soldier and commenced stumping for George W. Bush in earnest -- and that seemed to torpedo John Kerry's Arizona prospects for good. (Two polls in late June and early July showed Bush creaming Kerry by twelve points.) McCain has only gotten tighter with W. since, recently accompanying him on a tour of key swing states that culminated in a massive rally last Wednesday at Phoenix's Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which drew a crowd of 15,000. The fact that the Kerry campaign scaled back its advertising in Arizona early last month would seem further indication that it's quietly conceding the state -- but it may still be too early to say. The most recent poll, taken by Market Solutions Group a few days after the Democratic convention, has Bush narrowly beating Kerry 48 to 45, or within the margin of...

Devil in the Details

Bush Flips and Flops On August 3, 2000, in Philadelphia, Republican candidate George W. Bush accepted his party's nomination for president and delivered a stirring address. As we await the president's upcoming convention speech four years later, let us reflect on the promises he made then and the realities he's created. Can you say “flip-flop”? Flip : “America has a strong economy and a surplus. We have the public resources and the public will, even the bipartisan opportunities, to strengthen Social Security … .” Flop : Projected deficit for 2004: $445 billion. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that, if Bush's tax cuts are made permanent, the revenue loss over the next 75 years will be triple the size of the Social Security shortfall over the same period. Flip : “We will set [Medicare] on firm financial ground and make prescription drugs available and affordable for every senior who needs them.” Flop : The new prescription-drug law covers less than a fourth of the...

Purple People Watch

Colorado. Pragmatism triumphed over principle in Tuesday's dual Colorado Senate primaries. As expected, state Attorney General Ken Salazar, a pro-war moderate, easily defeated more liberal educator Mike Miles to win the Democratic nomination. The race on the Republican side was harder-fought. After the surprise retirement of incumbent Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell made the race competitive, the GOP establishment recruited beer magnate Pete Coors to be its standard-bearer in November. The Coors coronation briefly seemed headed for a derailing at the hands of former Representative Bob Schaeffer, who drew even in the polls with Coors by appealing to social conservatives with attacks on the Coors Brewing Co.'s gay-friendly employment policies and marketing strategy. In the end, though, Coors won (in part by denouncing his company's policies, and getting denounced in turn by Coors Co. advertising), thus forcing Salazar to run against the more moderate, though arguably less competent on...

Purple People Watch

Iowa. This morning the city of Davenport exists, for a brief period, at the very nexus of the race for president, as both candidates make appearances only a few blocks away from each other. (John Kerry meets with business and labor leaders in the River Center at 10:00 a.m. and George W. Bush leads a rally in LeClaire Park at 10:40 a.m.) Kerry was last in Iowa eleven days ago. Bush has been slacking; he hasn't stopped by since July 19. They're putting as much time as they can in the state because Iowa's poll numbers haven't budged in ages. Last week's American Research Group poll of 600 likely voters gives Bush and Kerry 46 points apiece and Nader two points; in a head-to-head match-up, they earn 47 points apiece. (The undecided figure was 6 percent in both equations.) Those numbers are virtually identical to two polls taken a week earlier. There are some morsels of potentially troubling news for the president amidst all this, including a 56 percent disapproval rating for his handling...

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