While making one point, Dick Morris accidentally makes another:
The polls already have shown how Kerry’s own voters break almost evenly on the issues, with half supporting the war in Iraq and half opposing it, and almost equal numbers saying we must stay the course as say we should bring the troops home.
So Kerry can’t use issues to hold his own in the debates: Whatever he says will antagonize some of his base. And now it’s plain that he can’t rely on personal popularity to hold them, since most are just voting against Bush.
If the president gives an even moderately effective presentation and comes across as even somewhat likeable, he can cut deeply into Kerry’s vote.
Now we know where Bush’s convention bounce came from, and why Kerry didn’t get much of one. Kerry’s convention speech was mostly content-free, to avoid alienating his core supporters. Bush’s speech didn’t have much more in the way of content, but he did come across as likeable.
If Morris is right, that’s about all Bush has to do, so long as Kerry’s negatives remain high and his likeability remains low.