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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

It’s Official: Kerry’s Ahead

I noted on April 2 that Kerry was ahead of Bush by 5 points in a Bush-Kerry trial heat among RVs. The two latest Bush-Kerry trial heats among RVs show Kerry ahead by even wider margins.
The latest ARG poll, conducted April 6-9, has Kerry ahead by 6 (50-44). And the latest Newsweek poll, conducted April 8-9, has Kerry ahead by 7 (50-43).
The Newsweek poll also finds that, by 60-23, the public thinks the Bush administration “underestimated the terrorist threat and focused too much on other security issues like missile defense and Iraq” rather than “took the threat of global terrorism as seriously as it should have prior to September 11th”.
And note that this poll was taken before the release of the August 6, 2001 briefing memo to Bush, which just hit the papers today. It will be interesting to see how much the release of this memo further erodes Bush’s credibility and political standing.

24 comments on “It’s Official: Kerry’s Ahead

  1. Barry Schwartz on

    I agree that Kerry should lay low. All these bad things that are happening to Bush are Bush’s own fault, and there is no way the worst of it can get better for him. However bad Iraq looks now, it will get worse. Furthermore, Bush is so irresponsible that, whenever new facts are discovered about his conduct, they will always be bad.
    What you do not want is for John Kerry’s name, voice, or face to be associated with the bad Bush stuff. Let those things stick to Bush.
    Sometimes I don’t understand how people can come up with certain ads. For instance, there is this attack ad of Bush’s that has a bunch of goofy talk about John Kerry and taxes or something. What sticks with me about that ad is how upbeat it sounds. I don’t care what they are saying, I just associate “John Kerry” and the upbeat tone. Wouldn’t it be nice if Bush would run upbeat “John Kerry” ads right up to Election Day!
    We really do not want to see Kerry juxtapose himself with mayhem in Iraq or an irresponsible and frankly criminal White House.

  2. Sara on

    I certainly agree with Kerry laying back right now, talking economics and jobs and raising money. The “Free Media” is working to discredit Bush on his strengths — War President and Anti-Terrorist — and what Kerry needs to do is be prepared to sell his case to those who are open to retiring Bush after they have been convinced by non-partisian information that a new President is in order. It’s a two step thing — first, strong questioning of Bush’s effectiveness, and then movement toward the alternative. Kerry needs to save his energy and assets for the right time to make the sale and close the deal with Independent voters.

  3. frankly0 on

    The methodology behind the Rasmussen polls is, I gather, pretty unconventional, since, apparently, it involves robo-calling. Other things being equal, I’d give more weight to the conventional (and more expensive) polls.
    On the other hand, I’m not sure why the Rasmussen polls should not be measuring genuine movements within whatever subset of the American population their methodology actually selects. On still another hand, I’ve certainly seen a number of cases in which Rasmussen goes one way, and conventional polls another, even on the same days.

  4. Donald from Hawaii on

    RE: “And the latest Newsweek poll, conducted April 8-9, has Kerry ahead by 7 (50-43).”
    You should qualify your statement, that these particular numbers are the projected result in a head-to-head matchup, and in the absence of a Ralph Nader candidacy.
    When Nader’s candidacy is factored into the equation, Kerry leads the Newsweek poll, 46% to 42%.

  5. Ted Waters on

    Okay, so let me get this straight: Iraq is becoming a quagmire of immense military, political, economic proportions, AND in terms of lives lost. The actions of Mr. bush prior to 9/11 define the word mis-management.
    How can he be moving UP in the polls?
    I say that the dems need to draft Richard Clarke as their nominee.

  6. markalan on

    Ruy Teixeira really needs to explain why he is so positive with Newsweek,CBS, and other polls and does not even mention Rasmuusen. Rasmuusen seems the most legit because it has a large sample (1600) and is of likely voters as opposed to registered voters or adults.
    Help me understand Ruy!!

  7. Doofus on

    Yes, but . . . if the strategy of letting Bush self-destruct all by himself is working so well, then why are the two men essentially even in the polls? I know that it’s still early, but if this is how Bush looks during a BAD stretch, what is he going to look like after his campaign succeeds in defining Kerry as a waffling, tax-supporting, Jane Fonda-loving Massachusetts liberal? Because that’s what they doing with those ads. And I’m just not seeing a very urgent response by the Kerry people to (1) counter those images, and (2) keep the pressure on Bush. Complacency with this incredibly ruthless crowd is a mistake.

  8. reignman on

    Plus, the media isn’t focusing that much on Kerry right now anyway, so he should wait until Sept. for some really hard hitting speeches.

  9. laura on

    I agree with FranklyO. I think Kerry needs to let events take Bush down while he promotes his positive alternative. A couple weeks before the election when a critical mass of voters have become critical or doubtful will be the time to have some hard hitting ads. And them the ads should be Buish’s words . For example an ad built around him laughing about the nonexistant WMDs or an ad quoting from Woodward’s book.

  10. Maxcat on

    Kerry is doing the right thing for the right time, right now. The Bush admin is in a self detruct – death spiral mode and Mr. Kerry is taking full advantage by staying out of the way. Doesn’t cost him a penny, and every time they open their mouths to gasp for air, they get weaker and weaker.
    Hey if the oponent is knocking himself out why waste your energy (and limited funds) trying to achieve what he is going to acheive on his own.

  11. Doofus on

    Kerry has been too cautious in the past two weeks. Bush is vulnerable right now, and Kerry needs to be attacking at the same time he’s unveiling his major policies. Let’s not forgot that Bush/Cheney is running lot and lots of negative ads in key states, taking full advantage of their current, substantial advantage in funds raised. Thus, while Bush is other respects seems to be reeling from the situation in Iraq, the 9/11 hearings, and the still-weak economy, he and his people are hammering Kerry on TV. And history shows that negative ads are very effective, particularly when the opposing candidates is not yet well-known among the general electorate (remember the Alamo and Mike Dukakis).

  12. Peter on

    Kerry is back to trailing in Rasmussen. Condi has made America go back to loving and fearing Bush, as has the continued turmoil in Iraq. Bush is still the favorite, by a wide margin.

  13. Doug on

    So Debra,
    This means then that the next ARG and Newsweek polls are likely to show Bush ahead? More and more I’m getting the feeling that Texeira’s analysis has a lot of pro-Dem spin, rather than objective analysis that would help Dems make mid-course corrections.

  14. patachon on

    Dan O.: “Does the DNC and Kerry campaign have a major ORGANIZED EFFORT to register voters and to get out the vote?”
    I’m sure there’s an effort. It’s the “organized” bit that, at least for the moment, I have my doubts.

  15. Debra on

    These results track the Rasmussen Daily polls for the dates they were condutced. April 8-9 for Newsweek Kerry was ahead: April 6-9 for ARG Kerry had the largest lead over Bush on April 7th.
    The results mesh.

  16. reignman on

    Independents will probably wait until the debates to decide. Democrats and Republicans have already made up their minds. If you look at the data, Independents are more critical of Bush than that of the national average, especially w/ Iraq related things. Kerry should do well w/ Independents, and we should see that in the home stretch. A Kerry-Edwards ticket would ice it, considering how well Edwards did w/ Independents and Republicans in the primaries (ex. Wisconsin). Edwards could also help out in West Virginia.
    As for the electoral college, if you have a lead in the popular vote by about 5%, it will be virtually impossible to lose the electoral college. The popular vote and the electoral college were both virtual ties in 2000. In fact, looking at the 1948, 1960, and 1976 elections, the winner of the popular vote won by a humble margin, while he won the electoral college by quite a bit.

  17. Ken on

    I’m not yet convinced of a Kerry lead. There’s the Rasmussen poll, and his numbers among independents in the ARG poll are statistically even with Bush’s. His lead comes from having (at least apparently for now) solid backing among Democrats, whereas Bush’s numbers have softened a bit among Repugs. Bush will, in the end, carry more than 90% of Republicans who turn out, and if Kerry is going to have a chance he needs at least a five point margin among Independents. So far, that ain’t happening.

  18. Rick P. on

    I agree with the other posters. Until Bush is defeated and is safely back in Crawford, TX, we cannot rest on our laurels. We need to be ahead by 20-plus percentage points or until the electoral college votes him out in December of 2004. We cannot relax until a new president is sworn in!

  19. Dan O. on

    Individual State polls can better indicate any important trends.
    However, actual votes that are COUNTED in each State will determine the election.
    Does the DNC and Kerry campaign have a major ORGANIZED EFFORT to register voters and to get out the vote?
    Remember you can alway vote using absentee ballot, but you need to request a absentee ballot early!

  20. EW on

    You will also note that these polls are of either registered voter or just “adults”. That makes them not much less useful than a poll of “likely voters” or one that performs an analysis electorally. I know it is more expensive but I would much rather see polls generally show electoral spreads, not popularity spreads. We all know too well from 2000 that the popular vote means little if the electoral battle is lost.

  21. Eldon on

    But how does this translate into electoral votes? If all the lead is in New York or California or Massachusetts, it does little good.

  22. Alan Snipes on

    I think Kerry is ahead also but Rasmuusen Reports, which had Kerry ahead earlier in the week on their daily tracking poll now has Bush ahead by 3 because they say Ms. Condoleeza’s testimony went over well with the American Public. Also, a recent poll on Florida by Mason-Dixon has Bush ahead there by 51-43. Help me I’m confused!


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