I don't think the defeat was based on the perception that they were weak on terrorism. I think the defeat was because they did not have a plan of their own. In the '02 election the Dems were very busy criticizing Bush, Repubs, economy etc. (The repub's were citiicizing too. Different topic) but were not coming forth with an alternative. Typical debate:Originally posted by: Dr Smooth
Bush has gained support for this war by defining an invasion on a country that has not attacked the US as part of the war against terrorism. As the Democrats learned in the 2002 elections you can not appear to be weak on terrorism.
D, "The economy sucks. Bush has ruined the economy!"
R, "The economy is not recovering as well as we would like. We propose a tax cut."
D, "Your tax cuts only favor the rich."
John Q Public, "OK D what is your plan?"
D, " The economy sucks. Bush has ruined the economy!"
So with the absence of a plan or the inability to get whatever they had, the exposure it needed, they lost the election. Same with the protestors. Bush had a plan (kick their ass) and everyone else concentrated on saying how much Bush sucked. In the absence of a coherent, alternative plan of any sort the guy with the only plan, no matter how bad it is, wins.
With the exception of Max Cleland's defeat in GA, I think it was an absence of a alternative that lost the Dem's the last election, not being portrayed as being weak on terrorism.