Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Return of Steven den Beste

Steven den Beste takes a look at Presidential election polling numbers. He concludes that Kerry is steadily losing ground.

In September, I think there was a deliberate attempt to depress Kerry's numbers, so as to set up an "October comeback". Of course, the goal was to engineer a bandwagon. Public opinion isn't usually as ephemeral as these polls suggest that it is. But there can be long-term trends, and I find it interesting that such a thing actually does show through. It's quite striking how close some of the data falls to the long term trendlines which I've drawn in. The reason the Democrats and the MSM are getting frantic is that they're losing.

Follow the link to his graph, which visually conveys more information than can be easily described. The most striking thing about the Kerry trend line is that it suggests a system that has been maxed out, like an engine which has reached the limit of its design. That suggests a far larger problem for Liberals then the mere weakness of a Kerry candidacy. To a substantial extent, Kerry is a proxy for an abstract candidate called 'Anybody But Bush'. The failure to get maximum acceleration when the Left needs it most could indicate that its traditional political instruments are losing traction. Celebrity endorsements, mainstream media support, favorable reviews from academia plus street events rooted in the old antiwar-civil rights movement  -- the old winning combinations -- no longer have an overwhelming effect. That doesn't mean they have no effect. We will know whether Steven den Beste's long term trend lines are correct in a little over two weeks.

A big Kerry win will indicate will indicate that the Liberal position is after all, a stable one, and that the system is returning to its equilibrium state after an accidental derangement occasioned by September 11. George Bush will have been identified as an aberration; the United Nations and the transatlantic alliance will reassume their accustomed places. The old order will be restored. But a Kerry loss or even a narrow win will suggest that a permanent sea-change has taken place.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
... The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
-- W.B. Yeats

What indeed? The new world is one whose advent the Left will not acknowledge, on peril of its life. It looks to the future by fixing its gaze firmly on the past. But even conservatives are likely to be perplexed. It is one thing to become aware of a new presence and another to know precisely what it is. But one thing at a time.