... how long has it been since we've seen this much antipathy toward each candidate in turn. The left has been in full anybody-but-Bush swing for months; MoveOn has made that its rallying cry; even the DNC put people on the street not to push voting for Kerry but to push voting against Bush. And similarly, on the right, we've seen an often vitriolic effort to get people to get out to vote against Kerry.
At the end of the post he asks if there are any polls about this sort of thing, and his commenters provide a couple. One commenter, "too many steves," links a New York Post article that notes:
The Fox News poll asked Kerry supporters if their vote for the Democrat could best be described as motivated by support for Kerry (41 percent) or by opposition to Bush (51 percent). By contrast, Bush voters emphatically say, by 82-13, that they are voting for the president rather than against the challenger.
I think Jarvis gets it half wrong. The anybody-but-Bush (ABB) crowd is a significant percentage of Kerry voters. But the anybody-but-Kerry (ABK) group is very small; Bush voters in general really do support Bush. This is why Bush can take strong stands on many issues, but Kerry can't -- outside of hatred of Bush, half of his base is divided on important issues. If he takes a strong stand, he may lose a quarter of his voters.
More significantly, Jarvis misses the boat entirely when he writes:
The left has been in full anybody-but-Bush swing for months.
The left has been in full ABB swing since December 2000. For a normal political cycle, the election campaigns really start a few months before the election, but the anti-Bush mud-slinging campaign began right after he was declared the winner of the 2000 election, and it has never stopped.
This is one reason I think attacks on Bush's character don't work anymore. Once you declare "Bush = Hitler," as the ABB crowd has been doing for 3 years now, "Bush skipped a few Guard drills 30+ years ago" is a non-starter:
Husband: "Hey, honey, they're saying Bush was AWOL from the Guard in '72."
Wife: "Aren't those the same people who were saying he was Hitler?"
Husband: "Oh, yeah. Hey, what do you want to watch tonight?"
These days I have to laugh when I read pro-Kerry commentators talking about how the Democrats have been too nice, now it is time to Attack! Attack! Attack! They've been compulsively, viciously Attack! Attack! Attack! -ing for three years now. In saying now is the time to start attacking, the anybody-but-Bush crowd takes a nose-dive into farce.
(Mug tip to Professor Bainbridge for the list of attack examples.)