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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Sorry, GOP, No Reagan Death Bounce Here

The Los Angeles Times (LAT) has released a major new national poll that includes oversamples in three battleground states, Ohio, Missouri and Wisconsin. And it provides little evidence that the GOP’s fervently-desired “Reagan death bounce” is materializing; in fact, Kerry’s 7 point lead among RVs in this poll (51-44), conducted entirely since Reagan’s death, is actually larger than Kerry’s lead in a recent Gallup poll that only partially overlapped the period since Reagan’s death.
The breakdown of the horse race data provides some interesting results. Bush’s current advantage among men is almost non-existent (49-48), while he is behind by 13 points (40-53) among women. Kerry is ahead by 10 points among 18-29 year olds, consistent with the lead he has had among young voters in most polls. And he has a 2:1 advantage among moderates (60-32), though, interestingly, and in contrast to other recent polls I’ve seen, he runs slightly behind among independents (46-49; note, however, that among moderate independents, Kerry has a huge 63-31 lead). In terms of the three battleground states where LAT oversampled, Kerry is losing 42-48 in MO, dead-even in WI (44-44) and ahead 46-45 in OH).
And here’s a startling result from their generic congressional ballot question: Democrats are favored over Republicans by an amazing 54-35 margin, including 3:1 among moderates (60-20) and even 51-38 among male voters.
In terms of direction of the country, the classic right direction/wrong track question is heavily negative (34 right direction/58 wrong track). And a related question, “…do you think the country is better off because of George W. Bush’s policies and should proceed in the direction he set out, or do you think the country is not better off and needs to move in a new direction?”, also returns a resoundingly negative 39/56 verdict, including 26/61 among moderates and 35/58 in Ohio.
Bush does get an approval rating that is high by his recent standards (51 percent). He is, however, net negative among independents (48/50) and moderates (44/52) and only 48/48 in Ohio. His other approval ratings are unimpressive, if a tad higher than in other recent public polls: 54/42 on the war on terrorism; 44/55 on Iraq; and 43/54 on the economy (as LAT notes, essentially unchanged since their last poll in late March, despite the last several months of pretty good job growth).
In the poll, almost half the country (49 percent) now says they have an unfavorable impression of Bush, compared to exactly half who say they are favorable, for a razor-thin +1 net rating. Kerry, in contrast, is only viewed unfavorably by 32 percent, compared to 51 percent who view him favorably, for a +19 net rating. Note that that relationship is replicated in Ohio, where Bush is +1 on favorability and Kerry is +16.
I’ll cover the Bush-Kerry comparisons on specific traits and issues tomorrow.

23 comments on “Sorry, GOP, No Reagan Death Bounce Here

  1. bt on

    Perhaps the most powerful indication yet of how desperate the President is feeling these days?:
    Link is to story in today’s Washington Post about his effusive praise of Bill Clinton at today’s WH ceremony unveiling the portrait of his predecessor. The last time the man showed any grace was during the 2000 campaign when he wanted voters to think he was a compassionate conservative.

  2. Marcus Lindroos on

    > By the way, one of the huge differences I see
    > between Reagan and W.
    There are others, and Kerry would be wise to stress them as much as he can.
    1) Reagan was only willing to pay lip service to the Christian Right’s agenda whereas “Shrub” wholeheartedly embraces it, as his push for a federal marriage amendment shows.
    2) For all the bellicose talk, Reagan’s actual policy vs. the main enemy of the day was actually quite cautious and ended with negotiations with Gorbachev. In contrast, “Shrub’s” decision to invade Iraq was both poorly planned and extremely reckless.
    3) Fiscal policy. Although both managed to rack up enormous budget deficits, at least Reagan occasionally raised taxes to help balance the budget. He also tried to honestly simplify the tax code. In contrast, “Shrub” has never seen a tax cut he didn’t like (except for the poor). It doesn’t matter to him what it does to the economy in the long term, or how much it will alienate the opposition. And his fiscal policies and tax cuts have deliberately made the tax code even more complicated, whereas Reagan tried to close loopholes.
    4) Personal qualities. I think Reagan was overrated; a dumb, simplistic President for the dumb, simplistic “redneck” half of America. But one has to grudgingly admit his ability to persuade not just Republicans but occasionally even his opponents that he was right. Reagan had style and finesse. At least he looked and sounded like a great president.

    The less said about the current incumbent, the better.

  3. AS on

    MoE doesn’t explain it at all. If MoE is the explanation for the high approval ratings, then what we’d have is an oversampling of Bush-friendly voters, which is entirely inconsistent with the congressional preference.
    A Dem oversample would explain it all, except for that darn Bush approval score. Maybe they have a weird way of asking or — more likely — scoring that question. Come to think of it, they always have an approval number on the high side.

  4. Marcus Lindroos on

    > Does anyone here read the incredibly lame
    > Carlos Watson on CNN?
    I do — and I am waiting for the next opinion polls with increasing concern… What he says sounds perfectly logical. The bad news from Iraq *has* recently been overshadowed by other events; the economy *has* shown some modest improvement; all the Reagan nostalgia ought to have *some* positive impact on the political standing of those associated with the Reagan/Bush regime.

    The upside is, if “Shrub” is still trailing a few weeks from now, we finally ought to have conclusive proof he will have to fight like crazy to get reelected.

  5. Paul C on

    Does anyone here read the incredibly lame Carlos Watson on CNN? He had a column earlier this week where he categorically stated that Bush would “regain his lead in the polls” because of Regan’s death. I think I am about to give up on this guy. He is a former Dem staffer, but I have yet to see him write anything other than the GOP line, and never anything particularly inciteful.
    By the way, one of the huge differences I see between Reagan and W. (besides competence) is that I think Reagan genuinely believed that his policies would help all Americans. I disagreed completely, but at least I have to grant him the sincerety of his beliefs. W., on the other hand, has such a myopic view of the world, the only people he cares about, or wants to help, are his privileged, born-again circle of friends.

  6. Jay on

    I have a hypothesis about the strong preferene for Democrats in the generic Congressional race.
    I could easily see many folks, who thought of themselves as Republicans because they were fiscally conservative, becoming disgusted with the current Congress, which has shown itself to be very free spenders. One could easily imagine such people wanting a split government, and sticking with Bush because he’s the “strong leader” and because the support his efforts against terrorism and in Iraq.
    Consequently, they might easily decide its time to toss Tom DeLay over the side and put up with Democrats in Congress for a while.

  7. jw on

    I almost forgot, if you check the trendlines, the last LAT poll had Bush’s job approval at 51% also, which is the lowest recorded by LAT since 911. Also, his job DISAPPROVAL went up to 47% from 44% (still statistically insignificant, but it still hints at a decline of support for the President).

  8. jw on

    Remember everyone, MOE. It is -+3. So, it could be as low as 48% (which would match the recent Fox News job approval rating for W).

  9. demtom on

    These numbers just don’t go together. A poll with a gigantic Dem Congressional preference should not give Bush his highest approval rating in any poll for four months. A poll that has Kerry leading 51-44 nationwide should not show him trailing among independents, behind in MO and barely even in WI and OH.
    In short, these results feel like they were thrown together by someone under the influence. I really await new numbers — from the Times or elsewhere. These are useless.

  10. Tiparillo on

    On the Dem skew issue:
    I saw a Bush Campaign official (don’t remeber who) claiwing an over-sampling of Dems and he specifically pointed to the Congressional preference too.
    I am curious about this too.

  11. Forest Street on

    My initial guess about how Kerry could lose among independents and still have a significant lead in the overall numbers is that it might indicate “Republicans” turning into self-identified “Independents.”

  12. Paula on

    AS, I understand your question, but if there were an oversampling of Dems, I seriously doubt Bush’s approval rating would be 51 percent. Plus, the most recent Gallup poll also has Kerry with a lead outside the margin of error. As for the independents, since Kerry has a huge lead among moderate indepdendents, maybe they oversampled conservative independents, because every other poll I’ve seen shows Kerry with a solid lead among indys.

  13. AS on

    Hmm. Much as I’d love to believe it as word from on high, I don’t like this poll (technically speaking) at all. There’s just no way we have a 19 point lead in congressional preference. That would mean 50 Repub incumbents going down. No way.
    More strangely, how is it possible for Kerry to lose Independents and still lead by 7? I don’t see a particularly large erosion in Bush support by R’s, so that’s not the reason. This and the congressional preference result point to a very strong over sampling of Dems.
    Ruy: Any thoughts? This can’t be right.

  14. C. Ama on

    The hagiographic port-mortem Reagan worship we have witnessed this week was never likely to do anything but hurt Bush. No current president could do anything but suffer by comparison to the heroic image being cast by those who choose to remember all of President Reagan’s virtues (and he did have them) and none of his faults. George W. Bush is, at best, a mediocre chief executive. I believe that, even unconsciously, people cannot help but make comparisons between the Olympian Reagan of this week’s remembrances and the sallow, defensive, hunkered-down Bush of the last few months. Rush Limbaugh and other Bush lickspittles have spent the entire week trying to get people to see Bush and Reagan in the same light. To some degree, they have succeeded. The problem is, with the Reagan light burning so rhetorically bright, Bush looks quite dim by comparison.

  15. John Everett on

    How come every truth (TRUTH) about GOP and their corrupted, immoral and destructive policies is labeled “anti-American”???
    Is it just another trick they learnt from their heirs – Joseph Goebbels and Leni Riefenstahl? I suppose the liberals in Germany back then were “anti-German”? Just as the sane muslims (shia, the liberals) are labeled “anti-islam” by Bin Laden, another right wing conservative.
    Well: I hate conservatism and I love America. Get that, “Texas Star” (sign with your own name please, and show some spine)??

  16. Jeff on

    Texas Star bite me.
    I suppose it is true that Bush is roaming around the White House calling every one who disagrees with him a “traitor” or “unAmerican.”
    I agree that Bush has been hurt by all this talk about Reagan. Because people remember Reagan, and they see Bush’s deficiencies.
    Poor George. He just can’t catch a break. The GOP were all giddy when the Gipper died. Believing that they were finally in the clear. Now it turns out that it didn’t help them at all.
    I can’t wait until Kerry takes over and sends all these neo-con bums to prison.

  17. dean on

    Prefab Sprout, I can’t believe you said that. Ronald Wilson Reagan was not every bit as corrupt as George Walker Bush. That statement just shows a bias brought on by the liberal media. 🙂
    I can’t see how dead Reagan can help Bush and I don’t see why anybody thought dead Reagan might. It would be different if dead Reagan could have been on the stump for Bush, but dead he doesn’t do anything, and dead Reagan wasn’t capable of stumping for Bush these past years. The idea that there was a dead Reagan bounce for Bush in the polls seemed to me to be something of a non sequitur.
    Oh, and in case you were wondering, I kept repeating the phrase “dead Reagan” because I just like writing “dead Reagan”.

  18. Texas Star on

    Isn’t it sad that you radical morons can’t stop your carping and nasty, pathetic anti-American rhetoric for a week to honor a past President!
    Your ignorance is truly showing through, but then again, we expected as much.
    Blow your horns, clap your hands, and scream because you are definitely outnumbered?
    Why don’t you go and hear another Al Gore rant!

  19. Prefab Sprout on

    Reagan was an enemy of the poor and helpless, and of the environment and the middle class. In that respect GWB is worth the comparison. However RR was nowhere near as corrupt and stupid as our current pres.

  20. EdW on

    I think that W is suffering from what I refer to as the Benson Effect. Some swing voters are thinking about Bush and saying to themselves “I voted for Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was a President of mine. You sir, are no Ronald Reagan.”
    Of course, even Reagan wasn’t all that this week’s fanfare makes him out to be. By comparison, this hurts Bush even more. Instead of a Reagan Death Bounce, Bush is getting a Reagan Death Punch!


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