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March 3, 2004
Kerry Strong Among Base, Not Holding Independents

In what could portend disaster for the Democrats in November, John Kerry -- the most liberal Senator in 2003 -- seems to fall short in attracting independent voters:

Yet even in California, Kerry did not run nearly as well with independents who were eligible to vote in the Democratic primary as he did among party members. This trend was more pronounced in Tuesday's voting in Ohio and Georgia, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Media Research/Mitofsky International.

In that way, the results underscored Kerry's ability to mobilize Democrats and the challenge he may face with independents as the campaign's focus shifts to the battle against Bush.

The LA Times exit polling showed the same trend throughout most of the contests yesterday and points out the folly of nominating a candidate from the extremes. John Kerry's record of attacking military and intelligence spending plays well in San Francisco and Massachussetts, but there's little risk of those voters going for George Bush in any case. They could go Nader or Green, of course (especially San Francisco), and some of the Deaniacs may indeed do just that. However, independent voters will tend to consider the war and support military spending, and those will go to Bush. Others will focus on economy and jobs -- and since both of those are improving, a good portion of those will also go to Bush in November.

Kerry's problem is that his extreme record will only appeal to the true believers among the Democrats, once that record is carefully vetted in debates and by the media. Therefore, the next month or so is critical for the Kerry campaign in the battle for the middle voters. If Kerry can't attract independents at this point in the race, before Bush really goes on offense, he's going to get creamed in November.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 3, 2004 3:00 PM

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