I am no pollster, but I was interested in what my undecided friends – I have a few – thought of last night’s convention. This pool of undecideds are all leaning towards John Kerry because they are ready for a change and have had various opinions about George Bush, all of which were unfavorable. Based on my twenty conversations, by phone, email, and in person, I think the anti-Zell Miller pundits are wrong. Zell had one hell of an impact.
While two of my friends are still firmly undecided, but leaning Kerry, the other eighteen all gave similar statements along the lines of “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.” What struck me is not that they took Zell Miller’s words to heart, but that by Zell Miller reciting the litany against John Kerry, these people realized they have not really heard about John Kerry, other than that he is from Massachusetts and went to Vietnam. “I realized that he has spent a bunch of time in the Senate and no one has really talked about it,” said one. Zell Miller listing the defense systems Kerry voted against hit home with these undecideds. As much as they would like a change and a fresh start, between Cheney’s statement that “we were already attacked” and Zell’s statement that his family is more important than his party, these undecideds are making up their minds for Bush.
The Republicans, in a sense, were right to have everyone up until the President focus on the war and terrorism. As Rich Lowry suggests, it is no secret that a lot of voters want a change. Voters might just be willing to accept change from the President and keep the guy who makes them feel safe. By focusing on the war and terrorism, Republicans have kept the issue front and center and rekindled emotions that have disappeared since September 11, 2001. Republicans have throughly discredited John Kerry on the issue via a member of Kerry’s own party. Now all President Bush has to do is reassure voters that he wants to give peace and prosperity a chance.
Frankly, though, I do not know that the President really even needs to do much of that. Judging solely by this unscientific pool of white twenty and thirty something voters, the power of Zell’s message about safeguarding family with the party that actually can safeguard the family will pull wavering voters into Bush’s camp. The opposition is right about one thing – the Republicans have played up fear – fear of getting stuck with an inept President who will not respond to attack without other countries’ permission. That is a valid fear. Americans do not want a spineless egotist in the White House.