Sam G wrote a great comment, under Tifanie's name, in the post below about Debate #2. I checked out opensecrets.org to see what the numbers were in terms of lawyer donations in the 2004 election cycle. They've given about $96 million to Democrats and $35 million to Republicans. Note, that's to the parties and their candidates, not to Bush and Kerry. Either way, lawyers are, and always have been rather active in the political process.
They have also, historically, given to Democrats. Now, to me, lawyers aren't the evil beings most people think they are. I mean, they're easy to hate, until you need one. But, certainly, they have an effect on the system.
Why do lawyers swing towards Democrats. I could just laugh and say that lawyers are well educated and people who spend a lot of time learning critical thinking skills tend to lean that way. But that's an alienating answer.
It's not that lawyers spend a lot of time looking out for the interests of the little guy, either. Most civil cases are between big companies suing other big companies. So, these guys are definitely part of the corporate system. But then, so is the Democratic party, they're just all we've got right now.
It might be that lawyers are more likely to be urban than not and city folk sway Democratic.
And, it might be that Republicans have been hostile to the profession with their tort reform ideas that would explicity make it harder to bring class action lawsuit, would cap lawyer's fees and would cap punitive damage awards.
But, does this mean that Democrat politicians are in the pockets of lawyers? I'd argue no. Republicans have been so extreme on the tort reform issue that the Democrats have a lot of room where they can demand reforms (Edwards' idea of independent certification before a medical suit can be brought, or his 3 frivolous suits and you're out idea) without being hostile to the profession. Ever think you're choosing between the lesser of two evils? Well, the lawyers probably feel that way too.
Sam also wrote about the debate, observing poignantly that Kerry let Bush off the hook a number of times and that he failed to really take control of the event the way he did the first time. I have no argument there. Kerry dominated the first debate. I think he won the second. Most folks call it a tie, and I think that's being really generous to Bush.
In terms of what Kerry needed -- the race has tightened since the debates. Bush's lead has, on average fallen from five percent to less than half a percent and electoral college projections have narrowed to the point where either candidate could win by stealing one or two close states from the other side.
The first debate put Kerry on the map and made him a legitimate contender. I know it's weird, but most of the country didn't get to know Kerry until that debate. Meeting him while Bush pulled his MC Stammer routine really helped Kerry along. In Debate #2, Kerry did well and didn't embarass himself. Basically, Kerry lost none of the ground he lost.
Now, we're coming to the third debate, which will be the same format at the first. One could argue that, going into the first debate, Bush could weather a screw-up. He screwed up, but he's still ahead. Edwards was good enough in the veep debate to keep Cheney from being able to save Bush. In the second debate, a town hall format that Bush excels at, he only managed to keep pace with Kerry. Now, going back to a format that doesn't serve him well, Bush can't afford to mess up. And... Kerry can't afford to not deliver a decisive blow. This is really down to the wire. But, I think Kerry can pull it off.