Democrats now believe Bush can be beaten
Tuesday 02 November 1999
Convinced for months that the best they could hope for was to regain control of the House of Representatives, Democrats are now starting to think that the White House may not be a lost cause after all. Republicans, meanwhile, are beginning to contemplate just the sort of messy contest they had hoped to avoid.
Democrats' earlier pessimism was understandable. Bill Clinton's indiscretions in the White House, they felt, had cast a blight on a Democrat's chance of succeeding him. With the former basketball star Bill Bradley running a plausible campaign, their party seemed to face a potentially divisive contest that could last until the party convention next summer. In George W. Bush, meanwhile, the Republicans appeared to have a candidate with the lineage, the personality and perhaps even the record to unite the right and take the presidential nomination by acclaim.
The past two weeks of frenetic political activity, much of it concentrated in New Hampshire - the state whose primary election follows the "first in the nation" Iowa caucuses in the new year - has done much to change the mood. Democrats came away from watching the first direct confrontation between their two presidential candidates, Vice-President Al Gore and Bill Bradley, at Dartmouth College last week greatly cheered. It was not that they felt the contest would be decided any time soon, but that the party had two candidates who were worthy of the job.
A survey conducted after the forum confirmed that while a majority of those asked expressed a preference for one or the other candidate, they also professed themselves content with either - and so unlikely to flee into the Republican, or non-voting, camp.
At the same time, the odd spoke has started to stick in the hitherto well-oiled wheels of the Bush machine. His non- appearance at the Republican candidates' forum in New Hampshire last week drew venomous jibes from local voters who turned in droves to Senator John McCain. In New Hampshire, Mr McCain's poll ratings are now within 12 points of Mr Bush's, and commentators are increasingly treating him as a viable candidate.
Nationally, Mr Bush continues to dominate the poll ratings, but the gap with Mr McCain is starting to narrow. And if the publishing millionaire Steve Forbes increases his ratings, even by a few points, there could suddenly be the prospect of a true contest on the right.
The tenor of the campaign is also changing. Big social questions, such as health and education, are back on the agenda; so long as the economy flourishes, the main issue will not be, as it was for Mr Clinton eight years ago, "the economy, stupid". This does not necessarily help the Democrats, but it certainly does not harm them either.
- 1 Top 20 misconceptions people believe are true
- 2 'We're not heroes, just tourists': Swedish police officers on holiday stop vicious assault on New York subway
- 3 Black Mass trailer: Johnny Depp might have started making good films again
- 4 Jacob Lescenski and Anthony Martinez: Straight student asks gay friend to High School prom and makes a million Twitter friends
- 5 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
Top 20 misconceptions people believe are true
Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
'We're not heroes, just tourists': Swedish police officers on holiday stop vicious assault on New York subway
Head transplant: man will be attached to new body in under an hour and aim is immortality, doctor says
Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Katie Hopkins on LBC: Listen to caller taking The Sun columnist to task over migrant comments
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election
Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...
£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst...