Skip to comments.Disenchanted Bush Voters Consider Crossing Over (Independent joins GOP in just two weeks time!)
Posted on 02/21/2004 5:07:32 PM PST by ambrose
Disenchanted Bush Voters Consider Crossing Over By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
Published: February 22, 2004
BEACHWOOD, Ohio - In the 2000 presidential election, Bill Flanagan a semiretired newspaper worker, happily voted for George W. Bush. But now, shaking his head, he vows, "Never again."
"The combination of lies and boys coming home in body bags is just too awful," Mr. Flanagan said, drinking coffee and reading newspapers at the local mall. "I could vote for Kerry. I could vote for any Democrat unless he's a real dummy."
Mr. Flanagan is hardly alone, even though polls show that the overwhelming majority of Republicans who supported Mr. Bush in 2000 will do so again in November. In dozens of random interviews around the country, independents and Republicans who said they voted for Mr. Bush in 2000 say they intend to vote for the Democratic presidential candidate this year. Some polls are beginning to bolster the idea of those kind of stirrings among Republicans and independents.
That could change, of course, once the Bush campaign begins pumping millions of dollars into advertising and making the case for his re-election.
But even as Democratic and Republican strategists and pollsters warned that a shift could be transitory, they also said it could prove to be extraordinarily consequential in a year when each side is focused on turning out its most loyal voters.
"The strong Republicans are with him," a senior aide to Senator John Kerry said of Mr. Bush. "But there are independent-minded Republicans among whom he is having serious problems."
"With the nation so polarized," he added, "the defections of a few can make a big difference."
In the interviews, many of those potential "crossover" voters said they supported the invasion of Iraq but had come to see the continuing involvement there as too costly and without clear objectives.
Many also said they believed that the Bush administration had not been honest about its reasons for invading Iraq and were concerned about the failure to find unconventional weapons. Some of these people described themselves as fiscal conservatives who were alarmed by deficit spending, combined with job losses at home. Many are shocked to find themselves switching sides.
While sharing a sandwich at the stylish Beachwood Mall in this Cleveland suburb, one older couple ? a judge and a teacher ? reluctantly divulged their secret: though they are stalwarts in the local Republican Party, they are planning to vote Democratic this year.
"I feel like a complete traitor, and if you'd asked me four months ago, the answer would have been different," said the judge, after assurances of anonymity. "But we are really disgusted. It's the lies, the war, the economy. We have very good friends who are staunch Republicans, who don't even want to hear the name George Bush anymore."
In 2000, Mr. Bush won here in Ohio with 50 percent of the popular vote, as against 46.5 percent for Al Gore.
George Meagher, a Republican who founded and now runs the American Military Museum in Charleston, S.C., said he threw his "heart and soul" into the Bush campaign four years ago. He organized veterans to attend campaign events, including the campaign's kickoff speech at the Citadel. He even has photographs of himself and his wife with Mr. Bush.
"Given the outcome and how dissatisfied I am with the administration, it's hard to think about now," he said. "People like me, we're all choking a bit at not supporting the president. But when I think about 500 people killed and what we've done to Iraq. And what we've done to our country. I mean, we're already $2 trillion in debt again."
A nationwide CBS News poll released Feb. 16 found that 11 percent of people who voted for Mr. Bush in 2000 now say they will vote for the Democratic candidate this fall. But there was some falloff among those who voted against him as well. Five percent of people who said they voted for Mr. Gore in 2000 say this time they will back Mr. Bush.
On individual issues, the poll found some discontent among Republicans but substantial discontent among independents. For instance, on handling the nation's economy, 19 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of independents said they disapproved of the job Mr. Bush was doing.
"As the president's job rating has fallen, his Democratic supporters have pulled away first, then the independents and now we're starting to see a bit of erosion among the Republicans, who used to support him pretty unanimously," said Evans Witt, the chief executive of Princeton Survey Research Associates. "If 10 to 15 percent of Republicans do not support him anymore, that is not trivial for Bush's re-election."
But Matthew Dowd, the Bush campaign's chief strategist, suggested that no one in the White House was worried about Mr. Bush's losing much of his base. He said polls continued to show that the president was enjoying the support of 90 percent of Republicans.
Many of those interviewed said that they had experienced a growing disenchantment with the conflict in Iraq over many months, but that only recently had they decided to change their votes.
A number said they had been deeply disturbed by recent statements of David A. Kay, the former United Nations weapons inspector, who said he was skeptical about administration claims that Iraq possessed unconventional weapons.
"The lack of evidence on Iraq has really hurt him, and the economy here is bad ? there's a lot of unemployment in the mills," said Phyllis Pierce, who is in the steel business in Cleveland and recently decided not to vote for Mr. Bush again.
John Scarnado, a sales manager from Austin, Tex., who voted for Mr. Bush in 2000, said he would vote for Mr. Kerry if the senator won the Democratic nomination.
"I'm upset about Iraq and the vice president and his affiliation with Halliburton," said Mr. Scarnado, a registered Republican who said that he had not always voted along party lines. "I think the Bush administration is coming out to look like old boy politics, and I don't have a good feel about that."
Many of those wavering in their loyalty to Mr. Bush were middle-class voters who said that his tax relief programs had disproportionately helped the wealthy.
"I voted for him, but it seems like he's just taking care of his rich buddies now," said Mike Cross, a farmer from Londonderry, N.H., adding, "I'm not a great fan of John Kerry, but I've had enough of President Bush."
retired newspaper man
Whenever you see some media article quoting a "Republican" who is slamming Bush, using Democrat Talking Points, look up the so-called Republican's name via google or Open Secrets...
How many CSeminarPAN Callers do you hear calling in WITH this line?
The editors probably consulted with some power hour types in Washington, either on the Kerry Campaign or at the DNC. This week's meme is "Kerry is getting surprising support from dissatisfied Republicans". Watch; this will be picked up by other papers, beginning with those rags (such as the Sarasota Herald-Tribune or the PB Post) that are owned by the Times Company.
The Republicans who are wobbly on Bush right now have been your basic RINO's, the Jeffords types. I strongly suspect that our friends quoted here, especially the one quoted twice on two different days, were antiwar Republicans from the getgo.
Be Seeing You,