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Bush Slipping Amongst Corporate America?

Posted By Barry Ritholtz On June 29, 2004 @ 2:37 pm In Politics | Comments Disabled

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Two recent polls/anecdotal surveys reveal disturbing realities about what should be near automatic support for the President amongst GOP voters in the upcoming election. They are not good news for the incumbent

The first is a 1H 2004 CNBC poll of 30 professional money managers. This group manages over $320 Billion dollars — a third of a trillion bucks. They were questioned about the market, the economy and the upcoming election. While 92% of these pros thought the stock market would do better under Bush than Kerry, a surprising 37% of them were supporting Kerry anyway.

For the incumbent, this amounts to a very large vein of discontent running through what should be a heavily GOP stronghold. Republican presidents do not typically get re-elected when they are only polling a 63% support on Wall Street.

Adding support to this survey was an article from Tuesday’s WSJ: “Chinks Appear in Bush Business Armor [1].” Again, we see a strong vein of discontent amongst what should be a GOP stronghold: VCs, technology execs, and corporate executives.

The article took quotes from participants at the Wall Street Journal’s recent “All Things Digital” conference of senior technology executives. “An informal show of hands revealed many more planning to vote for Mr. Kerry than Mr. Bush. Even “Undecided” beat the president.” The audience included large and small company execs, Wall Street Analysts, and Venture Capitalists. In the high-tech sector — a younger and less-traditional set of players — is where the Journal suggests Mr. Kerry will find the most fertile ground for support.

This development is yet another example of a demographic voting bloc that should be a lock for a GOP President — but isn’t for this one. As we have seen in the recent past (Cubans [2], Arab-Americans [3], etc.), the incumbent should not lightly assume that traditional GOP voters will be fully behind him in November.

“Though George W. Bush has been a decidedly pro-business president, a few cracks are surfacing in what had been a solid wall of business support.

Those small cracks, some stemming from dismay with record budget deficits, others from fears that his foreign policies are clouding the global business climate, have grown wide enough for Sen. John Kerry to launch a behind-the-scenes effort to woo business executives. While the Democratic candidate has no chance of matching the incumbent Republican’s business support, even a few notable defectors could help blunt Mr. Bush’s advantage, raise doubts with swing voters and draw more money into the Kerry coffers.

Increasing Deficits Cause Exec Worry
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Source: WSJ [1]

The upshot is a mostly quiet but significant struggle over business’s allegiance.

For Mr. Kerry, last week’s endorsement by onetime corporate icon Lee Iacocca, the former Chrysler Corp. chairman, was only the first of what his campaign promises will be more such staged appearances with business leaders. Mr. Kerry already had won backing from Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett and Apple Computer’s Steve Jobs.”

As we mentioned back on March 10 (Market Adapting to Ugly Realities [4]), there is a brewing backlash against Corporate America to the foreign policy adventures of the present administration. I’m glad this meme is gaining traction in the mainstream media — hopefully, before too much damage is down to US brands and reputations:

Brand America Damaged by Foreign Affairs?
exec_gripes_ii
Source: WSJ [1]

WSJ [1]:
“Among Kerry supporters is Eric Best, a managing director at Morgan Stanley, who says Mr. Bush’s tax cuts go too far at the expense of mounting deficits. “I was raised as a fiscal conservative, and I think his fiscal policy is scary,” he says. Mr. Best, who remembers Mr. Bush as an upper-class dormitory proctor at Phillips Academy Andover boarding school, says that what really motivates him to stump for Mr. Kerry is the hostility the global strategist finds as he travels.

“I can testify to the extraordinary destruction of ‘American Brand Value’ accomplished by this administration, from Europe to Hong Kong to Shanghai to Tokyo, and beyond,” he wrote in a recent e-mail that he widely distributed. “If any CEO of a global multinational had accomplished this for his enterprise as quickly and radically as George Bush Jr. has done for the U.S., he would be replaced by the board in no time.”

Fascinating stuff.

Source:
Chinks Appear in Bush Business Armor [1]
Kerry, Sensing an Opening, Tries to Gain Political Capital By Courting Corporate America
By JACKIE CALMES
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
June 29, 2004; Page A4

http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB108846166940349698,00.html


Article printed from The Big Picture: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog

URL to article: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2004/06/bush-slipping-amongst-corporate-america/

URLs in this post:

[1] Chinks Appear in Bush Business Armor: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB108846166940349698,00.html

[2] Cubans: http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2004/03/cuban_voters_in.html

[3] Arab-Americans: http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2004/03/arabamericans_s.html

[4] Market Adapting to Ugly Realities: http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2004/05/market_adapting_1.html

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