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"Kerry's Contest To Lose":

A smart-sounding and persuasive political item from Mickey Kaus (paragraph breaks added):

I've obsessively sniped at ABC's The Note for its declaration on August 11 that it was "Kerry's contest to lose." This might not seem fair--maybe it was Kerry's contest to lose and he lost it? Didn't The Note just guess wrong in a close election?

Answer: No! The whole point of ABC's Note is that its put out by the smartest, most knowledgeable and nuanced political insiders around, which it is. And the whole point of it being "Kerry's contest to lose" was that these experts were telling us that the underlying dynamic of the campaign favored Kerry because of Bush's "poisonous job approval, re-elect, and wrong track numbers."

But we now know that this considered judgment of the smartest, most knowledgeable insiders was wrong--it was Dem wishful-thinking spin. Kerry in fact did pretty well in the final months of the campaign. He won the debates. He didn't commit many gaffes. He raised tons of money and successfully turned out record numbers of Democratic voters. And he still lost. Why? Because the underlying dynamic of the campaign didn't actually favor him at all. It favored Bush, despite the supposedly tell-tale "wrong track numbers." The economy wasn't that bad, and voters knew it. Terrorism, and support for Bush on that issue, remained strong. And . . . Bush had a far more sophisticated campaign organization. . . .

How could brilliant genuine experts like Mark Halperin & Co. get it wrong? Because at some level they were conned by their peers and their Dem campaign sources (who were probably conning themselves) in a way I doubt they could be conned by Republican sources. . . .

Go to Mickey's column for more.