Doing a bit of website tidying last night, I came upon these charts from 2003-2004 showing the share of all bumper stickers we’d sold that were promoting particular candidates:
Throughout the summer and fall of 2003, newspapers and magazines focused strongly on the horse race aspect of competition among Democrats to win support for the 2004 presidential nomination. There was the brief Wesley Clark boomlet of the late summer, followed by the big Howard Dean boom of the fall that had its nose chopped off by the Dean scream and the first actual primaries in January of 2004.
But overshadowing it all was the sentiment of “Anybody But Bush,” a sentiment that allowed Democrats and liberals to sigh and shrug and accept John Kerry as a presidential nominee even though he had the presence of wood and the charm of a moldy noodle: he was, after all, not George W. Bush.
Next year will be the mirror image of 2003 in a structural sense: this time, we have an incumbent Democratic Party president, Barack Obama, who will be running for re-election while various Republicans jockey with one another for popularity in the leadup to the Republican presidential nomination process.
Will 2011 resemble 2003 in other respects? Will Barack Obama go without a primary challenger like George W. Bush did? Will Republicans be unified around an “Anybody but Obama” sentiment, or will they split bitterly on policy disputes?