As for President Bush, his extraordinarily high approval rating in Florida is early bad news for the current pack of relatively weak Democrats who are flailing about in obscure forums and debates in places such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. They have to worry that America's overall unemployment will decline from its current 6 percent-plus to Florida's more palatable 5.3 percent. And what if other states get as aggressive with foreign trade as Florida and Jeb Bush have done? What would a Democratic nominee have to run on next summer and fall? Not much.
Of course, risks remain for all Bushes and all office-seeking Republicans in 2004. Political success often breeds arrogance, and arrogance can kill a politician. But the two Bush brothers seem to be keeping their feet on the ground. They keep pushing their agendas while also staying mindful that, in politics, today's hero can be tomorrow's goat; yesterday's friend can be today's enemy.
Another danger is the possibility that the economy will never fully recover. Absent any new wars or terrorist attacks that cause Americans to close ranks around current leaders, an economic slowdown could slow down the president's popularity, too. But even if this happened, the Democrats likely would need a more moderate candidate than they now have in order to have a real chance to beat President Bush.
Right now, both events and polling numbers are trending well for George and Jeb. If the song remains the same for another year or so, no one will be eagerly waiting to count presidential ballots in Florida. Instead, America will see the crown jewel of Florida placed safely in the GOP column as soon as the polls close.
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