After a week away on business in the US I’ve returned to the UK more convinced more than ever that the Bush-Kerry race in November is going to be very tight even though the latest batch of polls has Bush back on top.
The Bush campaign is attacking Kerry’s policies such as threatened hikes in gasolene taxes. In contrast the Kerry campaign is focussing on the qualities of their candidate trying give to give positive reasons to vote. People are talking about this election in a way they were not talking four years ago. I have to be careful not to be guilty of wishful thinking but the anti-Bush resolve seems to be very strong. Given the low turnout in US elections it might be that those wanting change are more determined to vote than those happy with the status quo.
It’s not just Iraq and its ongoing aftermath that is raising the doubts but the whole aggressive isolationist style of the Bush administration.
Common topics of conversation were the lack of ease Bush showed fielding questions at his nationally televised press conference, and of course the visit to Washington by Tony Blair. You also a good feel for opinion from the TV shows particularly C-Span’s “Washington Journal” which usually has a large phone-in content on the immediate political issues of the day.
A friend and colleague from Vermont, who had first raised doubts in my mind about Howard Dean’s chances, is now convinced that Bush can be beaten. He is an acute observer of the US political scene and I take his view seriously. I made a lot of money on his advice on Dean and I’m inclined to think he’s right on the November vote.
One of the wonders of American politics is the extraordinary openness on political donations which mean that it’s often very easy to check people’s politics. There’s a great website where you can find out about all political donations above the very small amounts and you can cross check the view that people express to you with whether they ever contributed to Republican or Democrat campaigns. What really shocked me was discovering that two of those who expressed the biggest doubts about Bush had been Republican donors in the past.
The markets in the UK continue to tighten and now only one bookmaker is offering 2.37 on Kerry which, even with the latest polls, looks good value.