BUSH AND KERRY IN THE POLLS….Ruy Teixeira thinks George Bush may not be doing as well as the headline poll numbers suggest:

Instead of getting more votes where he needs them–in the battleground states–his posturing is mostly driving up his support in the hardcore red states, where he doesn’t need them. If that’s true, Democrats should definitely not be intimidated by recent poll results. Bush is preaching to the converted–which can make him look better in a national poll–but he’s not winning many new converts where it counts.

I try as hard as I can to be rigorously nonpartisan about poll results, since putting the rosiest possible spin on facts on the ground is a recipe for disaster. If there’s bad news out there, it’s better to know it, understand it, and then do something about it.

But this analysis strikes me as sound. The usual “early days” caveat applies as ever, but I suspect that Bush’s usual Texas macho act combined with Karl Rove’s plan to energize the base isn’t going down that well with independents. These guys aren’t such fervent supporters that they believe Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney can win the war just because they say they can. Instead, they want some actual evidence that we can win and that B/R/C have some clue about how to do it.

But they aren’t getting it, and Bush’s support among these voters is slowly bleeding away. Hopefully the Bush brain trust never figures this out.

Of course, the question for liberals is whether they’re smart enough to capitalize on this. As Mark Schmitt says, if the usual liberal pressure groups do nothing except demand ideological purity and public obeisance from John Kerry before the election, instead of actively supporting him and then pressuring him after the election, it might not matter. After all, Bush may have given up on the middle, but that doesn’t do the Dems any good unless they take advantage of it.