All of a sudden, it's conventional wisdom that John Kerry has a very good chance of winning.
Mark Mehlman, in The Hill yesterday:
"So Mark, how well is John Kerry doing?"
"Better than any challenger in modern times has ever been doing at this point in this race!"...
In the latest Gallup poll, John Kerry leads George Bush by five points among registered voters when Nader is included, and by 6 when he is not. How do we know just how strong a showing that is for Kerry?
...No challenger has ever done as well against an elected incumbent at this point in the cycle.
Howard Fineman in Newsweek:
...politics is a game of comparison in which timing and context are all. And given where the war in Iraq is right now, the Kerry flips may matter less than where he flopped. In the new Gallup survey, Kerry and Bush are running neck and neck on the question of who can better handled the situation there. If the president can't handle it - and the doubts are growing - then what choice will voters have come November? Why not a guy with personal experience on a real battlefield who sounds like he can deal with the diplomats?
That’s the theory. And it’s one that Bush operatives are worried about more than they say....
Andrew Kohut, in yesterday's New York Times:
...There is no reason to expect a one-to-one relationship between public disaffection with the incumbent and an immediate surge in public support for his challenger.
President Jimmy Carter's favorable rating in the Gallup surveys sank from 56 percent in January to 38 percent in June, yet he still led Ronald Reagan in Gallup's horse-race measures....It was not until the two men held a televised debate eight days before the election that Ronald Reagan gained legitimacy in the eyes of the electorate.
Similarly, in May 1992 President George H. W. Bush had only a 37 percent approval rating according to a Times Mirror Center survey, but the same poll showed him with a modest lead, 46 percent to 43 percent, over Bill Clinton. Only the Democratic convention and the debates brought about an acceptance of Mr. Clinton (even though his negative ratings were higher than Mr. Kerry's are now). It took a long time for him to be seen as an acceptable alternative to Mr. Bush....
Mr. Kerry's lack of progress should not, for now, be cause for concern to Democrats. Public opinion about Mr. Bush is the far more important barometer - and if it remains low, Mr. Kerry will have a chance to make his case.
But at the New York Post, Eric Fettmann is still on the island fighting for the Emperor:
DEM PANIC ON KERRY
May 13, 2004 -- JUST 10 weeks ago, when John Kerry came out of nowhere to vault ahead of the Democratic presidential field and leave his rivals choking in his dust, conventional wisdom had it that President Bush was certainly a goner and that Kerry should start writing his inaugural address.
Now, with Bush showing surprising resiliency in the face of probably the most politically damaging months of his presidency, some Democrats are starting to push the panic button...
His sources? A 2003 quote from The Boston Globe, a 2002 quote from Bill Keller of The New York Times ... yeah, that all seems up to date, right? Plus that same damn Village Voice article every other Kerry basher quotes (er, James Ridgeway's pretty far to the left -- he hates Democrats as much as Rush Limbaugh does).
Move on, guys. "Kerry panic" is so last month.