The Note





July is the month for the Democratic convention.

August is the month for the Republican convention.

September is the month for national security and post-Labor Day voter focus.

October is the month for the debates.

Which makes June the month to add up each side's fundamental advantages in the presidential race:


1. The war on terror serving as a potential trump issue, a la the communist threat during the Cold War. 2. Incumbency in a time of national crisis will seem safe(r) to a lot of voters. 3. The sustaining value of the "Bush brand" (highlighted again this month with 41@80). 4. The likeability and accessibility stops haven't even been pulled out yet. 5. Laura Bush. 6. An improving economy and seemingly successful POTUS projection of "if even one American is looking for work, that's too many" caring. 7. The rise of the Republican 527s. 8. Candidate confidence and rapid response confidence. 9. The political press' general belief the Kerry probably won't win, and inclination to scrutinize the Kerry "record" more than the Bush "record." 10. Most imaginable October Surprises favor the President. 11. The skew of the Electoral College.


1. An energized base which (we are now ready to say) viscerally dislikes President Bush as much as the right disliked Clinton. (Although no accusations of domestic murders yet . . .) 2. Stew of wrong track, events in Iraq, gas prices, and other only semi-controllable factors. 3. Famous capacity to close strong. 4. Potential week or more of positive coverage if he picks a good running mate. 5. Don't forget health care. 6. The regularity of the circularity of history (one-term Bush presidencies featuring a war victory in Iraq, stratospheric poll ratings, and, then, decline . . . ). 7. The head start of the Democrat 527s. 8. Unchallenged in key Blue States such as California, Illinois, and New York. 9. Daughters, stepsons, vets unveiled big time in Boston. 10. In what would be a Bush irony (and The Note tries exceedingly hard not to misuse the term), the President's team's apparent* belief that Kerry is a phony, liberal, hypocritical Francophile might just blind them so much to his appeal to voters that they (mis)underestimate him all the way through November, and never take him seriously enough to stop him. 11. The political press' general preference for (a) underdogs; (b) challengers; (c) change; (d) Democrats; (e) good stories.

The work week will be bookended by two key events -- today's special election to fill the Janklow House seat in South Dakota and Friday's job numbers.

Voters in South Dakota head to the polls for that special House election between Democrat Stephanie Herseth and Republican Larry Diedrich. Polls open at 8:00 am ET and close at 9:00 pm ET.

The winner has to run again in November.

For whatever reasons of sanity, the national political press over the last few years has stopped imbuing these special elections with cosmic national meaning, but you can bet the winning side will crow.

Although we share the suspicion of some Republicans that THEIR special election wins are often discounted more than those of Democrats by the national press, a Herseth win in a Republican state (and after the Democrats won the cycle's earlier special House race in Kentucky) would be at least semi-eye catching.

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