Does the 2012 campaign look a lot like the 2004 campaign? Many Democrats think so.
And there are some resemblances. As in 2004, current polling suggests a close race and shows only about a dozen states in contention.
As in 2004, the incumbent has been running negative ads against the challenger, hoping to disqualify him as Bill Clinton disqualified Bob Dole in 1996. Many Democrats think that Barack Obama’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s business career will have the same effect that they think the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads had on John Kerry in 2004.
But, as William Galston of the Brookings Institution, an alumnus of the Clinton White House, writes in The New Republic, “the evidence in favor of all these propositions is remarkably thin.”
Galston points out that in 2004 no single issue was as prominent as the economy is this year and that on most significant issues George W. Bush had a clear edge by the end of the campaign. He cites polling evidence that the Swift Boat ads hurt Kerry less than did Bush ads replaying his March statement that “I did actually vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”