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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Edwards Polling Roundup

A number of polls were released today indicating a positive reaction to Kerry’s selection of Edwards as his running mate and suggesting an immediate boost to the Democratic ticket. CBS News, for example, found the Kerry-Edwards ticket besting Bush-Cheney by 5 points (49-44) among RVs, while Kerry alone was leading Bush by only a point (45-44) 10 days ago.
That poll also finds Cheney with a heavily net negative (-20) favorability rating–only 27 percent favorable, compared to 47 percent unfavorable. Edwards is not rated by many respondents but those who do view him favorably by an even larger margin (38 percent favorable/9 percent unfavorable, for a +29 net rating) than Cheney is viewed unfavorably.
Even more impressive, in NBC News’ overnight poll, Kerry-Edwards leads Bush-Cheney by 11 points (54-43). Moreover, 24 percent day Edwards’ selection makes them more likely to vote for Kerry, compared to just 7 percent who say that selection makes them less likely.
Could Edwards be president? The public thinks so, even if Bush (“Cheney can be president, next”) does not. By 45 percent to 38 percent, voters pick Edwards over Cheney as the one who do the better job running the country. And, by 49 percent to 28 percent, voters pick Edwards over Cheney as one who is more optimistic about the future of the country.
The poll also finds Bush’s approval ratings still languishing at 45 percent approval/48 percent disapproval. But at least he’s doing better than Cheney who only receives a 44 percent approval rating.
Gallup’s polling doesn’t include a horse race question, but has some very interesting data anyway, particularly comparisons with earlier years. For example, 28 percent of voters rate Kerry’s choice of Edwards as “excellent” and 36 percent as “very good”, for a 64 percent positive rating. By contrast, Bush’s selection of Cheney was rated positively by 55 percent (including just 10 percent excellent) and Gore’s selection of Lieberman was rated positively by 53 percent (including 18 percent excellent).
In addition, 22 percent of voters (40 percent of Democrats) say they are “enthusiastic” about Kerry’s choice of Edwards and 48 percent of voters (also 48 percent of Democrats) are “satisfied”.
In an identical finding to the NBC News survey, 24 percent say they are more likely to vote for Kerry because of Edwards’ selection, compared to 7 percent who say they are less likely. That’s a more positive effect than either the Lieberman or Cheney selection elicited in 2000 (though not as good as the Kemp selection in 1996 or the Gore selection in 1992–a pattern that runs through much of the other data).
Edwards also is rated qualified to serve as president by as many voters as rated Cheney qualified in 2000 (57 percent) and by more than rated Lieberman qualified (52 percent).
Similarly, Kerry’s choice of Edwards is rated favorably by as many voters as rated Bush’s selection of Cheney favorably (64 percent) and by more voters than rated Gore’s selection of Lieberman favorably (57 percent).
Finally, are voters going to look askance at Edwards because he’s a trial lawyer? On the contrary, according to the Gallup data people overwhelmingly (67 percent) see Edwards’ trial lawyer experience as a strength (major/26 percent; minor/41 percent), rather than a weakness.
So score that opening round for Kerry-Edwards.

30 comments on “Edwards Polling Roundup

  1. Thomas Riehle on

    Here’s the AP/Ipsos poll:
    Yep, Bush is ahead.
    His handling of the economy is up, as is general consumer confidence.
    Yep, Kerry is making headway.
    His strong support represents 64% of his voters now, up from only 55% of his voters strong in June.
    That’s based on Monday-Wednesday poll. On Tuesday-Wednesday only, an additional question was added with full tickets paired. No difference (+4 Bush/Cheney over Kerry/Edwards) than full poll, and down from +3 Kerry/Edwards in June.
    Read the whole thing. I think larger trends (improving consumer expectations, handover in Iraq) are more important than first impressions of Edwards in explaining current trends. (Check out the graph called “Consumer Attitudes and Political Measures Chart”)
    Let’s see how the rest of July plays out.

  2. Ron Thompson on

    No, it’s a positive theme that we can do something about the divisions in our country, but ignoring them (which seems to be the conservative approcah) will not make them go away.

  3. S Robinson on

    Good point; optimistic messages sell well. But do you consider Edwards’ “two Americas” message to be an optimistic one? I don’t. He speaks of the haves and the have-nots, us and them. It’s a divisive, negative theme.

  4. Marcus Lindroos on

    > Edwards has less experience than Dan Quayle.
    Conservative TV host Joe Scarborough (of all people!) has a great response:
    “Today, President Bush took a shot at John Edwards, suggesting the U.S. senator was ill-prepared to be vice president of the United States.”
    “The attack was a cheap shot: John Edwards has served the same amount of time in the Senate as George W. Bush served as governor of Texas when he was elected president. The Texas legislature only meets every other year and the governorship of the Lone Star State has long been considered one of the weakest positions of its kind in America. Add to it that Edwards has sat on the intelligence committee through the days before and after September 11th. You could argue that Edwards has more experience in key areas than George W. Bush did when he ran in 2000.”
    “Other vice presidents, like Harry Truman, were dismissed as political hacks and lightweights, too, because of their relative lack of experience. But when the Senator from Missouri replaced one of the greatest presidents of the 20th century, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Truman exceeded all expectations and ended up being one of our country’s strongest leaders.”
    > And Edwards’ populist message may sound great
    > on the stump but rarely wins votes (ask Al Gore
    > or Pat Buchanan).
    True, *negative* populism doesn’t sell. But a case could be made that Edwards’ optimistic brand of populism matches that of Clinton and Reagan.

  5. dan on

    I think Bush’s comment would make a winning campaign slogan.
    “Kerry-Edwards ’04:
    Otherwise, Cheney Can be President!”
    That’s a winner.

  6. AS on

    Missed the AP Ipsos-Reid poll, which is much worse than the ones you report. It had Bush up 4 and at 50% (albeit with Ralph).

  7. JeffA on

    Just want to check arithmetic on the CBS poll. Unless I’ve gone completely off my rocker, isn’t Edwards fav/unfav of 38/9 a net of +29, not +19?

  8. James on

    Drudge is touting a new AP poll (along w/Faux News, always the most Bush-loving poll) that says Bush has GAINED with Edwards on the ticket, leads Kerry, and has gained confidence on domestic issues and the economy.
    The media will make sure that this and the Zogby (who is totally unreliable in good or bad news if you ask new) poll are the only polls that matter, and will try to tell people that Edwards actually helps Bush.
    The truth is that it’s just too polarized for any VP candidate to make a real difference.

  9. Lawrence on

    “Cheney can be president”
    Probably the most unintentionally scary thing he could say! 🙂 Let the american people take it as a warning! Yet another unsonsidered statement that will come back quickly to bite W in the ass.
    Re: Edwards experience – just to reiterate what has already been stated upthread:
    Edwards: 6 years as U.S. Senator
    Bush: 6 years as Governor of Texas
    Edwards: Successful ($50 million) career as a plaintiff’s attorney.
    Bush: Business failed.
    Kerry: married into money.
    Edwards: made his own fortune.
    Bush: born with money.

  10. SqueakyRat on

    S Robinson —
    Matthew Dowd’s “15% bounce” comment sounds like pure pre-emptive expectations-raising spin to me. Don’t buy it.

  11. theCoach on

    I would also add that the prevaling wisdom in 2000 was that who was President would not matter all that much. Times had been so easy with the peace and prosperity that people thought we could put it on autopilot and people could register disgust at Clinton’s affair.
    The last four years have disabused us of that notion, and the consensus is that this is an election that matters, and I think a lot of minds have been cast, mostly on the basis of an up or down on Bush — Kerry just needs to not be objectionable.

  12. theCoach on

    storwino makes an important point – there is not a lot of room for big changes in this electorate.
    Bush and Kerry each probably have 40% of likely voters who are very unlikely to switch in the runnup. Another 5% are pretty devoted to each, leaving about 10% of likely voters in play. So, big bounces are probably not too likely.
    If everything plays out normally the undecideds should break Kerry, but if Kerry gives those undecideds a reason not to vote for him – Dukakis in the tank kind of thing, or debate screw ups, it could swing the other way.
    I seem to remember though, that under pressure GWB tends to get frustrated and is probably more apt to screw up, whereas Kerry has a reputation of improving when it gets important.

  13. S Robinson on

    Nice comment, TinMan. The difference is that not many Republicans were taking Hatch seriously as a presidential candidate, while the comment I mentioned came from your (presumptive) nominee. You would have done better to mention the elder Bush’s ‘voodoo economics’ line about Reagan’s tax cuts!

  14. TinMan on

    When you hear Republicans disparage Sen. John Edwards’s lack of experience, remember the words of Sen. Orrin Hatch, spoken to George W. Bush at a debate on Dec. 6, 1999.
    “You’ve been a great governor,” Hatch declared of his rival for the Republican presidential nomination. “My only problem with you, governor, is that you’ve only had four and going into your fifth year of governorship. . . . Frankly, I really believe that you need more experience before you become president of the United States. That’s why I’m thinking of you as a vice presidential candidate.”

  15. S Robinson on

    I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Kerry-Edwards would get a quick bounce. Even Matthew Dowd, Bush’s chief strategist, estimates that Kerry may gain a 15-point bounce between naming his VP and the media attention from the convention. My surprise is all the excitement Edwards is generating among the Dems. Edwards has less experience than Dan Quayle. Didn’t Kerry make a comment about Edwards still being in diapers when Kerry came back from Vietnam? And Edwards’ populist message may sound great on the stump but rarely wins votes (ask Al Gore or Pat Buchanan).
    As far as ‘earning’ their money, you know the GOP will spin this as one marrying into money (twice!) and the other making it from contingency fees.

  16. Samuel Knight on

    The initial reaction was positive, but the long term traction depends on how the ticket is sold – and there appear to be a few great ways to build on the buzz.
    1) Pound on the fact that both Kerry and Edwards have been a success in every job that they have ever had.
    2) Repeat often that they both have excellent training – great grades, consistent focus on getting things done.
    3) Reiterate that neither of them came from wealthy backgrounds – Kerry’s dad was in the State Dept, and one was a mill worker. One upper middle class, one lower middle class. But neither grew up wealthy. Instead they went and earned it.
    Of course, these are not too subtle contrasts.

  17. storwino on

    Here’s a press release from Zogby.
    I tend to agree with Zogby’s take that there just isn’t room for a lot of movement in our electorate today.
    I was interested to note at the very bottom they mention the “slight weights” they added to account for region, party, age, race, religion, gender and presidential voter. This sounds really suspect to me. Trying to be conservative, I guessed there would be:
    4 categories for region,
    3 categories for party,
    4 categories for age,
    4 categories for race,
    2 categories for religion,
    2 for gender, and
    2 for presidential voter.
    Based on that I arrived at 1536 unique categories. I would say that the margins of error in those sub-groups would be higher.
    I’m guessing he applies some kind of clustering based on all those factors. Does anyone know anything about what he’s doing?

  18. accommodatingly on

    Found it– Google “Zogby Edwards July,” then click on the News link (Bloomberg reports the whole poll, which says no bounce– nothing about night one vs night two, though).

  19. Marcus Lindroos on

    > “Mr. Bush, is it true, as the New Republic reports,
    > that you are playing election year politics with the
    > security of the United States? Why was going after
    > these high value targets not a concern for years,
    > invading Iraq instead, but when you have fallen
    > behind in the polls, has it become necessary to
    > capture him before the election.
    Josh Marshall made the same exact point the other day. Why is getting Osama suddenly such a high priority when it clearly wasn’t in the spring of 2003??
    I agree it is probably better if Kerry raises the point in advance. His campaign might perhaps want to repeat this basic message in a number of attack ads, to thoroughly raise the point that the Bushies are “extremely concerned about terrorists” only when it suits their partisan goals at home… Osama was clearly a unwelcome distraction in early 2003, for example, when voters had to be reminded about the real and perceived dangers of Saddam at every opportunity.

  20. Mike on

    Would you comment on the new Zogby 2-nite poll? He suggests a large bounce for Kerry/Edwards on the first night, followed by an even GREATER swing toward Bush on the second night?

  21. theCoach on

    Kerry shoudl do something with that article. Something along the lines of
    “Mr. Bush, is it true, as the New Republic reports, that you are playing election year politics with the security of the United States? Why was going after these high value targets not a concern for years, invading Iraq instead, but when you have fallen behind in the polls, has it become necessary to capture him before the election.
    “The American people will forgive a lot in their President, but they will not forgive a President putting his own election concerns above the security of the United States. These are serious charges and I urge you to repudiate them, and to get to the bottom of why they are being leveled. You might want to do the same with the Plame case. Furthermore I ask you to repudiate your failures in the area of American security, and to change courses to one of greater security for Americans above partisan electioneering. You might not win the election, Mr. President, but it will go along way toward regaing your honor and dignity.”
    Perhaps a rewrite or two 😉

  22. Marcus Lindroos on

    I am really nervous about July 27, though. THE NEW REPUBLIC reports the Administration is working as hard as it can to pressure Pakistan to capture Bin Laden and/or other leading Al Qaeda operatives before Kerry/Edwards are officially nominated in Boston three weeks from now, or before the November elections at the very latest. And the Paki’s have some incentives to comply, since they reportedly are worried about Kerry/Edwards favoring India if they win the elections (Democratic presidents usually feel less inclined to do business with military dictators in Pakistan than do Republican ones).

  23. X @ on

    Thanks for the breakdown. I have nothing to add to the conversation except that I am a bit surprised by my own gut feeling that it’s s a good choice. Pleasantly surprised.


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