In 1972 Democrats’ hatred of Richard Nixon was not enough to produce a strong nominee against him. In fact, Democrats were so unconcerned about electability that they chose perhaps the weakest possible candidate: George McGovern, who lost in a November landslide. Likewise, in 1996 the Republicans’ powerful desire to beat Bill Clinton did not yield a potent nominee. The GOP picked the “next in line” candidate: Bob Dole, who lost by a wide margin to Clinton. In 2004 however, Democrats are clearly going with their heads not their hearts (even as we approach the Feast of Saint Valentine). Rightly or wrongly, the activists voting in the early contests are often passing over their first choice and selecting the candidate they believe can win in November. Thus, the Democrats of 2004 may accomplish a feat that eluded the Democrats of 1972 and the Republicans of 1996.
So how strong is Kerry? Or maybe the question is, how strong does Kerry really need to be, when Bush is getting weaker with his conservative base?