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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Sorting Out the Latest Horse Race Data

We have three new public polls to consider:
CBS News, May 20-23
ABC News/Washington Post, May 20-23
Gallup, May 21-23

Note that the survey dates for all three polls are virtually identical. Comparing apples to apples–that is, my favorite apples of RV, Kerry-Bush matchups–all three polls agree Kerry is ahead: Gallup by 48-46; ABC News by 49-47 and CBS News by 49-41.
On the CBS News result, their internals show Kerry leading by 16 points (!) among independents (51-35). My my. Considering that Kerry only needs to win independents by a few points to pretty much guarantee himself an election victory, that’s quite a result.
For what it’s worth, Gallup finally has its RVs and LVs agreeing: Kerry is ahead in both samples by two. In their last poll, Bush was ahead by 1 among LVs, while behind by 6 among RVs.
Gallup also provides a breakdown of the RV, Kerry-Bush matchup by red, blue and purple states (thanks, Gallup!). That breakdown shows Kerry leading by 5 points in the purple states (50-45). In 2000, Gore and Bush were dead-even (48-48) in the purple states.
Not a bad set of horse race results for Mr. Kerry, not bad at all.

25 comments on “Sorting Out the Latest Horse Race Data

  1. bt on

    In reply to Marcus’ post above, first, Kerry has been talking about particular aspects of homeland security, such as rail system security, that have obviously been neglected by Bush.
    Re the threat of a terrorist attack, it’s a disconcerting subject to consider. But if one were in al qaeda’s position wouldn’t one want a second term for Bush?
    He gives them the best of both worlds: he is the ideal, straight-from-central-casting villain whose presence in office has aided al qaeda recruiting immensely.
    Yet at the same time he and his Administration are incompetent, permitting al qaeda to recover and grow as the US flounders in Iraq. His actions and words have created discord with many countries that would presumptively (under a competently managed campaign against al qaeda) be working hand in glove with us in a focused, top-priority campaign now. At the same time, his Administration’s actions have made it far more difficult for us to obtain the critically needed support of as many as possible of the governments and peoples of majority Muslim nations in that effort.
    He is so widely and deeply despised and discredited around the world that there now appears to be no possibility that he would be able to effectively harness world governmental and public efforts to combat al qaeda in a second term.
    So I’m ready if and when a Bush-leaner tries to snow me with the BS assertion al qaeda would want Kerry to win because he is supposedly softer on combating them than Bush.
    The other points I may make in response to such an argument are twofold: 1) why would we think the people who got us into this awful situation are the ones to get us out, particularly when they appear to be incapable of acknowledging, let alone learning anything, from their mistakes? 2) Since when do Americans let al qaeda or the views of others outside of this country affect how we vote? If we believe Bush is a screwup, which he is, and that we can and must do far better, which we can, then we, as in we Americans, will vote for this change. We simply do not have to put up with inept leadership.
    If al qaeda has an interest in helping Bush and they have the capability of doing so, why wouldn’t they try?
    To my way of thinking the possibility of an Administration attempt to declare martial law in the wake of terrorist attacks which disrupt the election, while remote, is not beyond the realm of possibility. Why? Only because this is an Administration which combines a heavily authoritarian manner of governing (evidenced in so many ways over 3 1/2 years) with a messianic sense of itself and sense of certitude in the rightness of its decisions which is deeply removed from reality.
    The other major potential wildcard factor that can at this time easily be foreseen is, by contrast, one where immediate action is necessary: a) an effective, coordinated effort to prevent tampering with election equipment and vote tabulation processes b) ensuring there is a backup paper trail for electronic voting machines wherever they will be used. If and where there are no backup paper trails, it should be obvious that anyone who seeks to challege the results via a recount is going to be SOL.
    What would knowledgeable viewers recommend as specific courses of action we ordinary citizens can take to help ensure ballot integrity?
    I hope the above is taken in a “failure is not an option” spirit stemming from a determination to prevail under any set of circumstances, rather than as a prediction that these grim scenarios will play out. I remain cautiously optimistic (counting myself in neither the “it’s ours to lose” camp nor the “it’s Bush’s to lose” camp at this point) about our chances to win a free and fair election while recognizing this is an unusual and highly dynamic time in our history.

  2. Ron Thompson on

    QED, James. When you write, it’s always about the bad things that are about to happen to the Democrats. I don’t want good people to be discouraged by your constant negativity. If you’re not a troll, find something positive to say. If you are a troll, well, that would explain a lot.

  3. Marcus Lindroos on

    > I’m really scared about, from both a human and a
    > narrowly political perspective, is a large-scale
    > terrorist attack in Sept or Oct; the rally effect will
    > certainly exceed the feeling that Bush did not protect
    > us, at least for the first few weeks– and that’s all he’ll
    > need.
    I worry about this too — although the negative impact could be somewhat alleviated if it turns out the Administration’s partly at fault e.g. by previously cutting budgets or neglecting the particular issue that was exploited by the terrorists.
    If I were Kerry, I would already be screaming like crazy about the absurdity of spending hundreds of billions on INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENSE and invading Iraq. The real issue is homeland security, which “Shrub” hasn’t been that interested in.
    Having said that, I agree the President probably would benefit from another spectacular terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Sigh.

  4. James on

    Ron, who ever said they “minded” me in the first place? Why are you trying to stir up trouble and spread lies? Because you have nothing valuable of your own to say? That’s obvious whether I’m here or not. You totally destroyed this thread just to make yourself seem like you have a purpose. Why? What’s your agenda?
    I’ve seen the media save Bush’s hide time and time again. All of this talk about Sadr’s fighters backing down in Najaf and about how momentous 6/30 will be and how the economy is wonderful and Americans will realize that once Iraq dies down, about how gay marriage is such a crucial issue, that Bush has trumped Kerry on Iraq, they’re exactly the same, why isn’t Kerry doing better in the polls, etc. all this is designed to tip the race to Bush. And slowly but surely, that seems to be happening. The election is so far away.

  5. Gary on

    The most damning numbers for Bush might be the Red/Blue/Purple state breakdowns in the Gallup poll. Bush’s lead in the Red states–states that should be reliably Republican–is not very large, 51 to 43 without Nader, 48 to 42 with Nader (note that Nader, somewhat oddly, seems to help Kerry in the Red states). Kerry’s lead in the Blue Democratic states, however, stands at 55 to 38 without Nader, 54 to 37 with Nader. If Bush’s support in traditionally Republican states is as soft as the Gallup poll indicates, he might be in some real trouble because he will have to fight to keep those states (particularly states that have tended to be less Republican in recent years, e.g., Arizona, if it is not already considered a battleground) in his column, assuming these trends hold. And one should probably assume that the trends will hold, given the large numbers of voters who are firmly committed to one candidate or another. Kerry’s not finished yet, but you have to think that he’s looking pretty good.

  6. reignman on

    about 50% of the polls i’ve seen are a dead heat, and the other 50% are Kerry w/ about a 5 point lead. i don’t think i’be seen one where Kerry is ahead by 2 or 3 points though.

  7. mara on

    So…why did I hear on MSNBC last night that the latest polls show Kerry and Bush stuck at 46-46. I don’t get it. Actually, Bush is sinking and Kerry is holding steady or pulling ahead, but according to MSNBC it’s a dead heat! Dead wrong. I’m sick of it.

  8. Kevin on

    Has anyone looked at the Zogby Interactive battleground states poll? If it’s accurate, it’s great news for Kerry, but I wonder if it’s reliable given that the polling was conducted by e-mail.

  9. demtom on

    I’d agree Bush is pretty near the GOP electoral floor — even Goldwater only did a few points below the CBS 41. The only thing that could reduce him further — and this is something that wouldn’t show up in polls, wouldn’t be apparent until Election Day — would be significant voter abstention by traditional (but disgusted) Republicans. When you hear Tom Clancy (and his ilk) saying how difficult it would be for him to support Bush, you don’t figure this foretells a switch to Kerry, but you might project he represents a certain percentage that simply doesn’t have the heart to turn out for Bush. Such a stay-home factor could skew the percentages by making Dem voters a far greater percentage of the electorate than usual; this could put Bush below the normal party-split numbers we assume govern most elections.

  10. theCoach on

    most likely the nadir for Bush, but there is a tipping point Bush could reach. If it appears that Bush is sinking the ship (and 41% is sinking the GOP ship) regional congress critters might jump off the SS Bush, which would lead to lower numbers I believe.
    Not likely, but at this rate not impossible.

  11. Ron Thompson on

    Don’t mind James–he’s always there with his pessimistic point of view. He’s not an overt troll, just a guy who consistently attempts to decrease morale by predicting that events will soon break Bush’s way. Maybe he’ll be right one of these days–a stopped clock is right twice a day.

  12. bt on

    If independents are leaning so strongly towards Kerry and all he needs is a much smaller margin among indies to almost guarantee that he will win the election, then why is Kerry running barely ahead overall?

  13. howie on

    One of the problems we have is that the media insists on representing all of these polls as problems…for Kerry! With all this bad news, why isn’t he further ahead?
    On local DC TV last night, Derek McGinty did a segment on “Kerry Disconnect”. He had a local Dem pollster as a guest and, frankly, the guy wasn’t very good. McGinty kept going after the lack of Kerry lead and even represented Iraq as a negative-“why should we change horses, now that Bush is calling for international involvement, too?”
    The Dem had little ability to respond. I kept screaming at him to point out that Bush had been dragged kinking and screaming to Kerry’s position, but McGinty’s belief that Kerry has to change his position solely because Bush took it ruled the conversation.
    The exchange was something that Bob Somerby would have a field day with on his site had it occured in a national forum.
    Since no incumbent has ever been blown out this early in a campaign; I don’t understand the belief of many that these numbers are horrible for Kerry. The lack of traction is due to the vacuum Iraq creates. The news is all Bush all the time. If Kerry were actually sniping constantly, I think he’d run the risk of appearing to “hate America” and his negatives would rise.
    My only fear, and it’s a big one, is that Kerry won’t have a big enough lead to offset the Gore-ing the media’s going to pull on him later in the campaign. Th RNC will leak some insignificant item, and the press will give it the same play they’re currently giving Iraq.

  14. James on

    pangolin, the Rethugs are already whipping up the fear-mongering over unknown, unnamed terrorists again. That will drive up Bush’s support. Bush’s speech got very good marks from the Joe Sixpack crew. That will help his numbers. The media has never really let him be seen as losing or slipping anyway, they always say that Kerry is in a worse situation. Kerry hasn’t given a strong policy on Iraq, and even if he did, the media would ignore or distort the policy. The public knows Bush and already seem to be flocking back to him to some degree.
    The closer we get to 6/30 and after 6/30 the less the media focuses on the negatives in Iraq and the more willing the public is to ignore the issue, or accept it as some kind of muted victory. Meanwhile, Bush and the media can reframe the debate on issues that will suit Bush, like bullying people into believing the economy is fantastic, and like getting people scared to death over same-sex marriage.
    We’re entering a period very soon where Bush will most likely rebound in all the major polls. I hope I’m wrong but it seems like the worst has passed and Kerry and the Democrats are still going nowhere fast.

  15. dsquared on

    Hmmm … the two 47s actually drag up the moving average on the approval rating, don’t they? Kerry’s been doing very well at the Iowa Electronic Markets (he’s on 0.493), but my guess is that he tops out there. My guess is that we should be looking for a couple of polls giving Bush approval >50 in the pretty near future; I’d agree with Ruy that the long-term momentum is looking pretty sick for Bush, but things appear to have overextended themselves on the downside for the near term.

  16. CrazyR on

    Hey this is just the start. Kerry wins big Demo’s get congress back. The gop is only in control of the supremes and time is not on there side CrazyR

  17. pangolin on

    Blogs: the Kerry campaign can and should do what it likes with its wholly owned blog; we should hold it to different standards from those of partisan, but unaffiliated, blogs and fora.
    Horse race: yeah, the numbers will bounce around; what we need is for people who have already realized that Bush can’t do the job not to go back on that realization. A couple more weeks of negative news may be all it takes.
    Future events: if we stay in Iraq, we keep getting hit; that’s horrible news for the country and for our brave soldiers, but good news for our chances of firing the misleader who got us into this mess. If we leave, Bush looks weak, and people who think we’re out of danger feel free to vote on domestic issues; if Bush wants an election based entirely on those, bring it on. What I’m really scared about, from both a human and a narrowly political perspective, is a large-scale terrorist attack in Sept or Oct; the rally effect will certainly exceed the feeling that Bush did not protect us, at least for the first few weeks– and that’s all he’ll need.

  18. Joe Zainea on

    Permit me to interrupt the squabbling around the sand box. We’re talking about polling numbers here and in the previous post it was all about the Pres’ speech of last night.
    I believe Bush’s numbers are going to go back up and probably pretty soon. Everything I hear and read tells me that the “sovereign” Iraqi government is going to tell the US and Britain to take a hike; probably before our election in Nov.. Bush and Blair will hear that and run like thieves. The neo-cons will probably go nuts that we’re cutting and running but most of the GOP will breath a huge sigh of relief.
    Kerry has to be ready for that. He should now be getting to the right of Bush regarding the situation in Afghanistan. When Bush announces his premature withdrawal, he should jump on him with both feet for creating a mess then leaving it for the Iraqis to clean up. The middle will like that, even if the far right and left don’t.

  19. NeoFascist? on

    Actually, I visit a number of conservative blogs, and find that there are a few brave liberal souls who come to debate us. They are not banned or deleted unless they use obscene language, and I have fun debating the liberals who don’t curse. To be fair, I have encountered many conservatives who use foul language as well, and I avoid associating with them.

  20. Mencken on

    of course republicans silence dissent w/i their own blogs/party. dems are supposed to be better.
    not sure what the deal w/ neofascist was, but I do know that the kerry campaign is systematically deleting posts as well as bloggers who have the ultimate temerity to criticize it.

  21. Me on

    You banned NeoFascist?. So this is how you handle opposing viewpoints; you silence and eliminate them. Looks like someone’s spent too much time reading the Communist Manifesto.


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