Monday, July 19, 2004

Kerry Takes the Misery Tour On the Road

Not long ago, Kerry took his tour of misery and pessimism on the road to the town of Massillon, Ohio. The town has been hard hit by lay-offs in the past and is struggling to get back on its feet. If residents of the town did not think they were miserable before, John Kerry is coming to town to ensure they know it. The resident's of the town have warned Kerry that he should not try to use their hard luck for political gain. The Kerry campaign has stated that Kerry will bring specific proposal's to save jobs, which will no doubt amount to an increase in government spending, the raising of taxes and an increasingly isolationist position on the economy.

On the stump Kerry has often referred to this as the "worst economy since Herbert Hoover", despite the creation of over 1 million new jobs this year and very strong economic forecasts. Why would Kerry fall back on economic pessimism in his stump speeches? According to Democratic consultant Dane Strother, "It's the best issue they've got, especially in some of the swing states". It is the only thing they have to cling to. Senator Kerry has been put in a position where he has to hope the economy falters. But, according to Fox News Kerry will have a much harder time selling the poor economy than Reagan did in 1980 or than Clinton did in 1992 when he defeated the President's father:

When it comes to voters' anxiety about the economy, this election year is a far cry from 1980, when Ronald Reagan (search) famously asked: "Are you better off today than you were four years ago?"

Nor does 2004 measure up to 1992, when Bill Clinton's team summed up the campaign's theme with the memorable phrase: "It's the economy, stupid."

Kerry and Edwards have a bigger selling job than Reagan had in 1980 when he defeated President Carter or Clinton had in 1992 when he beat the first President Bush.

In June 1980, three-fourths of Americans disapproved of Carter's handling of the economy at a time of rising inflation and little growth.

In June 1992, three-fourths disapproved of the elder Bush's economic performance when the economy was just starting to revive.

An AP-Ipsos poll this month found that voters were about evenly divided about the current president's handling of the economy, with 49 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving. Also, consumer confidence has been on the rise.

In a twist on the old Reagan question, those in the AP poll were asked: "Compared to four years ago, is your family's financial situation better today, worse today or about the same?"

Four in 10 respondents said better, 34 percent said the same and 26 percent said worse.

In July 1992, only one-quarter of Americans said they were doing better than four years earlier.


The economy is improving everyday and the message is getting to the voters, as evidenced by the steady rise in consumer confidence the past few months. Kerry has to be able to convince voters that despite the fact that the economy has weathered the storm of the past few years quite well, they are doing poorly. As this is the only issue they have any several swing states, voters are assured of hearing more pessimism from John Kerry for the next 100 days.