carville and luntz in rolling stone

If you haven’t seen it yet, the Rolling Stone website has an interesting Q & A with partisan political strategists James Carville and Frank Luntz. Carville, as most of you know, was Clinton’s head strategy person in the 1992 presidential campaign. Luntz, a rightwing pollster, worked with Newt Gingrich in 1994 to draft and market the Republican Party’s “Contract With America.” Now, they’ve both got some interesting insights on what we might expect come November. Here are a few quotes:

LUNTZ: This election is going to be closer even than 2000. There are only about a dozen states that are in play. The biggest of these states — Ohio, Florida, Minnesota, Pennsylvania — represent about twenty percent of the vote. Roughly ninety percent of Americans aren’t going to switch their preference between now and Election Day. That means that only about two percent of Americans really matter in this election. Close to $400 million is going to be spent trying to win their votes. My prediction is that Bush will win the election by a slim margin — about two points.

CARVILLE: John Kerry is going to win by four points. Bush lost the popular vote by half a million votes last time, so in order to win this time he’s going to have to bring a whole hell of a lot of new people out in his favor. That’s not going to happen. Ninety percent of the people who voted in 2000 will vote in 2004. I defy anyone to tell me that there are a few hundred thousand people who voted for Al Gore in 2000 who have been so impressed with Bush that now they’re going to vote for him.

LUNTZ: I’ve met plenty of Gore-to-Bush voters, particularly in the Jewish community. I recently talked to a room of several hundred Jewish voters. When I asked who voted for Bush in 2000, about two people raised their hands. When I asked who was voting for Bush this time around, almost half the room did. You’ll also see an increase in the Hispanic vote, which appreciates Bush’s focus on the immigration issue. And I think he will do better among suburban moms, who appreciate his focus on education.

His focus on education? He cuts $8 billion from what he says he’ll put into education, and yet people still think that he’s pro-education because of that damned “No Child Left Behind” marketing campaign. Say what you will about Karl Rove, the man’s a fucking genius… And I knew that Bush had been pandering to Jewish voters in the past few weeks, but for some reason it hadn’t even occurred to me that it might be because he sees the potential to win over some of those that voted for Gore-Lieberman in 2000… Presidential politics are as fascinating as they are disgusting.

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