I doubt that Josh Micah Marshall’s post or this article by Dana Milbank and Jim Vandehei will tell anyone here much of anything that they don’t already know, but it might be evidence that this year the media won’t be quite as willing to carry water for Bush as it was in 2000. Milbank has always been more willing than most to tell it like it is, and success-worshippers who support Bush for that reason alone might be figuring out that the guy is turning into a loser.
As Marshall points out, Bush has virtually nothing positive to run on, and has to run entirely by stressing’s Kerry’s negatives. But negative campaigning has worked in the past, so we can hardly be complacent.
In a negative campaign, the Nader factor becomes more important, since the Bush people can sit back and let the Nader campaigners do a lot of their work for them. Bush’s core constituency of hard-core rightwingers seems to be at least 30% of the electorate, so Kerry needs almost three-quarters of the remainder.
If Nader gets a significant chunk of the vote, he could make it possible for Bush to win with a plurality even if most independents and non-insane moderate Republicans desert him. (And as I keep saying, centrists and independents aren’t necessarily all that smart — some of them are just random airheads).
So Bush could be elected by a plurality without the vote of anyone whatever except fanatics and airheads. The lame duck we’d end up with would be a rabid one.