It was never Kerry's policies or his charisma that attracted the Democratic base, because he had neither. His policies are unintelligible, and his charisma rivals Al Gore's. Boy, but was he ever good at breathing fire at George Bush.
John Edwards, who had a great deal more charisma and a much more focused message, titillated the voters and the media for a while, but ultimately, Kerry's fortuitous momentum was unstoppable because Democrats weren't willing to risk Edwards' electability -- always keeping the goal in sharp relief.
This theme of Democratic unity continued to play out as we observed the reluctance of Kerry's primary opponents to challenge him and the graciousness with which John Edwards acknowledged his defeat and endorsed Kerry. Folks, their unity around the goal is so thick in the air you can almost touch it -- it will probably ensure that Ralph Nader won't even be a factor.
The Democrats' unity and the motivation of their base presents a problem for the GOP, which is exacerbated by the restlessness of its own base, some of which has been appreciably alienated by Bush's gravitation to the left on education, campaign finance reform, trade, overall domestic spending and immigration, to name a few.
I don't think too many of these disaffected conservatives are irretrievable. But to get them to the polls, President Bush is going to have to persuade them his reelection is vitally important on many fronts. Obviously, in his conduct of the war there is little doubt, other than from the committed anti-war right -- which is rather small. And he's been very strong and courageous in his tax policy. Lately, he's also shown a greater commitment to slow the growth of domestic spending. He's been strong on social issues, punctuated by his recent call for a Federal Marriage Amendment. There's plenty of red meat to go around here.
More importantly, now that Kerry's nomination is all but formalized, President Bush will begin to draw sharp distinctions between his vision and record and Kerry's. The more Kerry's horrendous record and absence of vision are publicized the more energized the GOP base will be, and that should be more than enough to thwart the goal.