A Harris poll of nation-wide LV’s conducted Sept. 9-13, has Kerry leading Bush 48-47 percent, with 2 percent for Nader and 3 percent not sure/refused.
TDS Strategy Memos
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By Ed Kilgore
March 29: Here Comes the Tea Party Strategy on Retirement Programs Again
If you are feeling a sense of deja vu about where the current budget debate in Congress is headed, you aren’t alone, and I offered an explanation at New York:
In the partisan messaging battle over the federal budget, Joe Biden seems to have Republicans right where he wants them. Beginning with his State of the Union Address in early February, the president has hammered away at GOP lawmakers for plotting to gut wildly popular Social Security and Medicare benefits. This has driven Republicans into a defensive crouch; they can either pretend their proposed cuts aren’t really cuts or forswear them altogether. It’s a message that Democrats would love to highlight every day until the next election, or at least until Republicans figure out a better response than lies, evasions, and blustery denials.
But as Ron Brownstein points out in The Atlantic, there is a logical path Republicans could take to counter Democrats’ claims that GOP policies threaten popular retirement programs. It’s based on pitting every other form of federal domestic spending against Social Security and Medicare, and on making Democratic support for Big Government and its beneficiaries a political problem among seniors:
“Republicans hope that exempting Social Security and Medicare [from cutbacks they are demanding for raising the federal debt limit] will dampen any backlash to their deficit-reduction plans in economically vulnerable districts. But protecting those programs, as well as defense, from cuts—while also precluding tax increases—will force the House Republicans to propose severe reductions in other domestic programs … potentially including Medicaid, the ACA, and food and housing assistance.
“Will a Republican push for severe reductions in those programs provide Democrats with an opening in such places? Robert J. Blendon, a professor emeritus at the Harvard School of Public Health, is dubious. Although these areas have extensive needs, he told me, the residents voting Republican in them are generally skeptical of social-welfare spending apart from Social Security and Medicare. ‘We are dealing with a set of values here, which has a distrust of government and a sense that anyone should have to work to get any sort of low-income benefit,’ Blendon said. ‘The people voting Republican in those districts don’t see it as important [that] government provides those benefits.’”
And so Republicans will very likely return to the messaging they embraced during the Obama administration. Back then, self-identified Tea Party conservatives constantly tried to convince elderly voters that the real threat to their retirement programs stemmed not from GOP budget cutting, but from Democratic-backed Big Government spending on younger people and minorities, with whom many conservative voters did not identify. Then as now, a partisan budget fight — and the threat of a debt default of government shutdown — let Republicans frame funding decisions as a competition between groups of beneficiaries, rather than a debate over abstract levels of taxing or spending.
The big opening shot in the anti-Obama campaign was Sarah Palin’s wildly mendacious but highly effective September 2009 Facebook post claiming that the Affordable Care Act would create “death panels” that would eliminate Medicare coverage for seniors or disabled children deemed socially superfluous (the barely legitimate basis for the attack was an Affordable Care Act provision to allow Medicare payments to physicians discussing end-of-life treatments with patients).
Soon Republicans would come up with slightly more substantive claims that Obamacare threatened Medicare. In 2011, House GOP budget maven Paul Ryan, whom Democrats hammered for his proposals to partially privatize both Social Security and Medicare, claimed that Obama administration projections of health cost savings in Medicare represented a shift of resources from Medicare to Obamacare. By 2012, when Ryan became Mitt Romney’s running mate, Ryan was campaigning with his mother in tow, claiming that Republicans wanted to protect her from raids on her retirement benefits by the redistributionist Democrats.
Romney and Ryan didn’t win, of course, but they did win the over-65 vote by a robust 56-44 margin, a better performance in that demographic than Trump registered in 2016 or 2020. As Thomas Edsall explained in The New Republic in 2010, the Tea Party–era Republicans understood they had to mobilize their federal spending constituents against alleged competitors:
“Republicans understand that one axis of the resource war will be generational. All of their vows to defend Medicare are coupled with attacks on Obama’s health care reform. They implicitly portray Democrats as waging an age war—creating a massive new government program that transfers dollars to the young at the expense of the elderly. Republicans have cleverly stoked the fear that Obama is rewarding all his exuberant, youthful, idealistic supporters by redistributing resources that are badly needed by the old.”
In a 2024 campaign in which Democrats are going for the jugular with seniors, a reprise of the GOP’s 2012 Medicare counterattack, dishonest as it was, might make sense.
During this year’s budget skirmish in Congress, House Republicans are expected to take a claw hammer to domestic spending outside Social Security and Medicare, as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities reports:
“This spring, House Republicans are expected to release an annual budget resolution that calls for large health care cuts, and Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) marketplace coverage are likely to be prime targets. House Republican leaders are calling for cutting the deficit and making the Trump tax cuts permanent, while saying they will shield certain areas of the budget (Medicare, Social Security, and military spending) from cuts. To do all these things at once, it is highly likely they will propose cuts in health programs that provide coverage to millions of people.”
The House GOP has also already called for deep cuts in nondefense discretionary spending, including food stamp and nutrition programs. It’s likely the GOP’s state-based crusade against “woke” public education will lead to a renewal of ancient conservative demands to deeply cut or kill the U.S. Department of Education. Maybe those representing energy-producing areas will go hard after EPA or the Department of the Interior’s programs. Almost certainly, the GOP as a whole will embrace across-the-board cuts in federal employment or federal employee benefits under the guise of “draining the swamp.” Any and all such cuts can also be rationalized as necessary to avoid reductions in spending for Social Security, Medicare, and national defense, not to mention tax increases.
Whatever formula they adopt, there’s little doubt Republicans will find ways to present themselves the true defenders of Social Security and Medicare, just as many of them will always keep scheming for ways to damage or destroy these vestiges of the New Deal and Great Society. Biden seems committed to his effort to make seniors fear the GOP, and this is the only way Republicans can counter-punch.
I signed up for the Zogby polls and receive a set of questions about once a week. I always say yes for kerry. As I live in Texas, it is my small part in helping the polling numbers.
Hi Ruy: First let me say thank you for all your good work. To my point: Brian Lamb (on C-Span) just reported on Washington Journal that USA today has a new Gallup poll giving bush a 12 point lead.
The election coverage is the same as sports coverage.
I have long maintained that national politics is easily the most exciting of all the televised sports. The games take a good deal longer to play out than ball games, so you do sort of need an attention span to follow them, but the rewards are many. For one thing, it’s the only sport I can think of where the spectators get to pick the players.
My feeling is, whoever said, “Democracy is not a spectator sport,” probably just never really gave it a fair chance.
Electoral-Vote.com will go by the most recent poll.
The lead in Wisconsin is based on a Strategic Vision poll, a Republican polling group.
That electoral vote site has silly methodology. It will take whatever poll comes out last and swing the EV map from one extreme to the other. You can go from mostly Zogby data to mostly Survey USA data overnight.
Oh, and case you want proof that polls are nutty, check this map out. http://www.electoral-vote.com/ It has Illinois as barely Kerry, and Wisconsin weak Bush! This is so laughable its absurd. Again, I don’t have any crystal ball, but I would poo myself if WI or IL go Bush…or for that matter if IL was even within 10 percent. Crazy days.
The election coverage is the same as sports coverage.
I can’t believe how similar the Cubs commentary in Chicago sports parallels the Kerry Bush race. After the Cubs were thumped by St. Louis head to head with the Cards going from 7 up to 10 up on the Cubbies, the town went mad. For two weeks or more all you heard was crying about how terrible the Cubs were. As time passed people realized the north siders were still in the lead for the wildcard spot, and it has become, “The Cubs have the best pitching staff in the bigs, have to be favorites head to head with anyone in any series.” This prior week they had a little swoon and the critics came out in droves again.
With Kerry it was all roses after the dem convention. The Bush convention came and all the sudden it was, “Kerry’s team is in disarray.” Just yesterday Paula Zahn teased a segment with, “Can the Kerry campaign turn it around?”
The individual polls and tracking are interesting for entertainment purposes only. What you see is TOO MUCH commentary and analysis. The President will be choosen by electors decided by the Popular vote during one portion, of one day. There is no way to reliably predict what will happen with any sort of certainty. Like a sports game, maybe you can pick the winner 6 or 7 times out of ten, but for anyone one game there is no telling.
Perhaps the only poll I think worth watching isnt a poll at all, but the trends in all over long periods. The place to visit is Professor PollKatz’s Pool of Polls at http://www.pollkatz.homestead.com/#anchor_44
Check out his Bush approval graph following like 15 polling services since Bush took office. The trends are quite compelling. And remember, even that conglomeration of polls doesn’t predict the future, all it can do is handicap it.
CNN is reporting on the PEW poll 46/46. They say the bounce is gone. One week ago the same poll had Bush up 12 points….
That first poll that Ruy linked through in the post, it didn’t say it was weighted for party ID (which I think is good) but was it and I just missed it?
this race most resembles 1980 — and in mid-September Carter was ahead by about 5 points, and his “deserves to be re-elected” number was considerably below 50%.
That’s about right. Also remember that Reagan didn’t pull ahead till after the debates. Same dynamic this time. Kerry will have to “close the sale” in the debates. Iraq getting worse by the day. Time is running out for Bush.
I meant: “It will be interesting this year *to see* to what extent …”
You guys have got me thinking about presidential debates (one assumes that we will have a couple when all is said and done).
Back in 2000, Bush’s handlers were masters of lowering expectations beyond all ridiculousness then seeing to it that he got the highest marks for barely clearing even that bar — he was basically the kid who got high praise for spelling his name right on the test, whereas everyone else was kind of expected to answer some of the questions correctly.
Back in 2000, every idiotic thing Bush said in public was successfully spun as evidence of his plain spokeness, his outsiderness, his unscriptedness… and an adoring press corps ate it up right out of Karl Rove’s hand then nuzzled his shoulder for good measure.
It will be interesting this year to what extent if any, our national talking heads have since figured out that Bush is completely scripted, he’s just constantly blowing his lines. I am also at pains to point out that as much as I enjoy having beers with all of my best drinking buddies, quite frankly, not one of them is qualified to be President of the United States.
I think Kerry knows what he is doing. He is no puppet like GW and we will find out at the debates.
“Kerry needs to develop a macho persona like Bush”
Kerry dont need to develop no macho persona like bush.. let the man be who he be.
He is just fine as he is.
That’s very encouraging. The link doesn’t work for me, though.
Let’s throw the new Pew poll in for good measure.
Conducted 9/11 — 9/14
RVs — Bush 46% Kerry 46%
LVs — Bush 47% Kerry 46%
This compared to their 9/8 — 9/10 numbers
RVs — Bush 52% Kerry 40%
LVs — Bush 54% Kerry 38%
Kerry’s still got some work to do to repair his image and take Bush on, but we are back to parity. Interesting how quickly Bush’s lead evaporated.
See the results here.
Yup, it was the coercion to reenlist story.
Thanks for the the headsup. That Colorado number (48-47 Bush, Sept. 10-13 or so) was particularly promising. Colorado and New Hampshire, with the rest staying the same as 2000, would be enough for Kerry to win. Unless the proportional voting bill passes, in which case Colorado and New Hampshire would just give the Dems a tie! FWIW, I’ve been against the proportional vote thing, even though I thought it would help the Dems if passed. That makes me feel a bit better being against it now that it might hurt the Dems…
Kerry needs to develop a macho persona like Bush.
In reality, Bush isn’t much of a man, but his stage handlers have crafted an image of power despite his male cheerleader-ness. Kerry’s team has much more to work with considering Kerry’s a combat vet, but they have yet to make him seem tough enough.
I’m against Kerry making statements from the bully pulpit about Bush. I think it makes Kerry come off as all bluster and anger rather than the strong position he should be aiming for.
I’ve a post on my blog, which you can get to by clicking my name at the end of the post if you’re interested.
I think the debates will be where this race is won or lost for Kerry. Kerry needs to play the roll of prosecutor, laying his case out before the jury. Bush did promise surplusses, jobs, smaller gov’t, a humble foreign policy, WMDs, missiona accomplished, a plan to win the peace….Kerry just needs to stick it to him.
I finally got polled this morning. I think they said American Family? I never heard of it. Anyway, they ask me a lot of questions but I only remember; are you registered to vote? what party are you registered with? who did you vote for in 2000? and who will you vote for this time? I also was listening to NPR this morning and they had reps from the Kerry and Bush campaign explaining the differance in the health care plans. It was amazing how the Bush campaiign didn’t have anything except what they have now and his lame prescription drug plan that passed this year. Kerry’s plan was much better presidented and the guy said Kerry is going to make it his first priorty when elected President.
Hey, everyone! Check out today’s American Research Group first set of 20 state polls taken in September. We’re leading everywhere we’re supposed to be, and down by only 1% in Colorado! Here is the site: http://www.americanresearchgroup.com/
Spread the word.
I can’t link to that story – is it the one about the guards being coerced to reenlist?
FACT: Like we see today there was gross image manipulation and false perceptions in Election 2000 but Americans were smart enough to vote + 583,000 for Gore/Leiberman. It came down to Florida…we know the story.
FACT: More Americans probably still rely on US mainstream media ( broadcast, cable, major newspapers ) but in Election 2000 there were less Americans accessing the Web to crosscheck information and there were no political blogs.
FACT: In Election 2000 Bush/Cheney did not have a ABYSMAL performance record on the economy, jobs, healthcare, education, the environment, Iraq to be measured against.
FACT: Bush has been misleading the public, distorting fact, contriving false realities, and making excuses on virtually every major issue because Bushco knows it has to rely primarily on gross image manipulation and false perceptions to win in 2004 and the US mainstream media ( with some exceptions ) is bending over backwards to help.
The Net Net: More Americans should be smarter in Election 2004 and see that Kerry/Edwards have a much better plan for America and Americans and that George W. Bush is a FAILURE, has NOT earned our TRUST, and should be FIRED.
This morning on a Minnesota Public Radio Mid-morning program (you can listen at the MPR site) Larry Jacobs, U of Mn Political Scientist talked about comparison between this race, and previous ones. He made the point that at this point (mid September) in Reagan and Clinton’s re-election campaigns (84 & 96) they were ahead by double digets — 19 and 16 points. Jacobs thinks this race most resembles 1980 — and in mid-September Carter was ahead by about 5 points, and his “deserves to be re-elected” number was considerably below 50%. He thinks the same pattern holds on this one — Bush got his post convention bounce, and promptly lost most of it over a week and a half and now is either tied or slightly ahead or behind Kerry. His bounce didn’t really impact the underlying questions — deserves a second term? or any right track/wrong track question formulations.
Apparently Jacobs thinks those who “bounce” around at this juncture are far more likely to conclude in the late days of the campaign to vote for change — meaning against Bush, but not necessarily with profound commitment to Kerry.
I’d recommend listening to the whole program — and as I posted in another thread here, much material on the two recent polls in Minnesota.
Kerry has taken two torpedoes below the water line and is still charging ahead-that is really encouraging. Bush cannot put him away, and that is going to lead to some desperate measures-presumably an intern or something we haven’t heard about yet.
That’s a very interesting, important story. It’s on AP, so it should be getting attention widely.
Very few people will get polled, despite the many polls. If you get a sample near 1000, you can have a pretty small margin of error. The key is getting a random sample. Even if there are 1000 polls run with samples of 1000, you’re talking about only having a million people being polled, a small, small fraction of the US.
There are certainly plenty of reasons to wonder about polls. Will people change their minds? Are they telling the truth? Are some likely voter screens filtering out people on the basis of whether they voted last time, and if they refrained from voting, was that because of a lack of enthusiasm that has since changed?
Patience, optimism, and continued hard work…that’s what’s called for in the next few weeks.
Speaking of Iraq. Please read this article from a local Colorado news station. It is amazing! I cannot understand how Bush even registers in the polls. This man should be impeached.
I too am charged by the new polls. We are exactly two weeks post GOP mudfest. The reports on Iraq are damning in their intensity. I would like to echo the on-the-ground assessment, again. I have a strong sense that Kerry is ok and will remain ok with the voters. I vote in every election. I have a land line and I have not been surveyed. I have participated in regular Zogby online polling. I wonder who is called? I do not know anyone who has been polled.
I attended an event last evening and folks are feeling more positive than some of the polls would allow and there is a great deal on enthusiasm for Kerry/Edwards.
There are many, many registration efforts and many, many get-out-the vote efforts planned.
Even my apolitical daughter and her husband have signed up to go door-to-door.
Bush lost the debates with Gore, but was rescued by his spin doctors who turned the debate from substance to sighing.
On Iraq, Kerry will have to hammer the message that the military is doing an admirable job, but are being overwelmed by the failure of the politicians. You can bet Bush will try to claim Kerry is anti-troops, etc.
I’d missed your last post. Do you have any of the Zogby details? It would certainly be encouraging news, if so. And it certainly seems like it would have the potential of backfiring.
Only significant trend in this poll is Nader vote:
April – June – August – Now
8 – 6 – 3 – 2
I’m not sure that I see any whistling past graveyards. I’d certainly not get euphoric based on the Harris and Democracy Corps polls, though I’d rather they turned out the way they did than otherwise.
Different polls are, at one level, giving us different results. It’s easy for people from any political preference to pick and choose the polls that give them the most favorable results. Better, I suspect, to figure that the conflicting results are the sign of a close race, likely with a slight current Bush lead.
I hope the polls favorable to Democrats get as much play in the press as the polls favorable to Republicans, but I doubt that happens. In the meantime, all of us should just keep at it, maintaining motivation in the Democratic ranks and preparing for the first Tuesday in November.
I just read Zogby’s “premium” site for paying subscribers. He has definitive data that show swiftboat smear has backfired on Bush. Talk about unintended consequences. HOO yah!
Occasionally one sees data that suggest a rational electorate.
Ah yes, some of the people all of the time…..
But Gallup is coming, and it’s not gonna be good. Our spinning and whistling past the graveyard skills will be tested once again.
It seems to me Iraq is a volcano the Bush team has been trying to keep contained, and the news each day makes it less and less likely they’ll succeed. The period of the convention provided not only four days of speakers saying everything was going great over there, but also a national news near-blackout on reports of casualties. Since then, we’ve not only hit 1000, but gone rocketing past — the week or so since has seen us lose c. 3 Americans per day, with many more injured. September is on a pace to be our worst month since the Fallujah debacle of April (by the way, did anyone read the Salon article today, by a formerly embedded journalist, opining that the Fallujah attack-and-withdraw was essentially the root of all the bad stuff since?). Add to that increasingly grim prognoses from intelligence folk, and you have the solid possibility that Iraq goes from sort of neutral for Bush into a resounding negative by Election Day. (Especially given that a majority was already inclined, pre-GOP convention, to view it as a mistake — it’d be quite easy for that number to be restored)
I don’t say Bush has no chance of winning — I still think it’s possible he’ll squeak out a 50-51% victory, though no higher. But I’ve always believed presidential elections are decided on fundamentals, not tactics or campaign ads, and the fundamentals, as has been said here before, are not good for the incumbent. Three years of recessionary economy, followed by limping recovery, and an ongoing foreign policy screw-up, are not the formula for a second term. For that reason, I think Kerry has a better than even chance, whatever anyone’s polls say this morning.
This is a poll using “likely voters.” I seem to recall you types saying these polls were worthless.
Lots of positions on a single issue. No wonder you lot like Kerry.
Harris poll also says that 51% do not feel Bush should be re-elected. Zogby data have been saying that now for some time. That plus net negatives on approval and direction augur poorly for Monsieur Bush.
Vive les Democrats! Vive M. Kerry!
Au revoir M. Bush.
Actually, Sky, as I recall it Gore was ahead before the debates in 2000 and Bush ahead afterwards. But your larger point is correct. The media always piles on according to polls and argues that whoever is ahead is unstoppable and who is behind is in deep trouble, even if the margins are narrow.
Wow, thank goodness. I know the people who have been working since last spring are working harder than ever and aren’t letting lower polling numbers for Kerry dim their enthusiasm.
Every place I’ve been (in a strongly Republican area of VA) people come to get bumper stickers from us while the Republicans talk amongst themselves.
Enthusiasm to beat Bush has not diminished one bit so I’m glad to see my on-the-ground observations confirmed.
Ruy has been saying that Iraq is Kerry’s opening. It looks like that’s just breaking now. Kerry has been making comments on Don Imus regarding the CIA report on the deterorating situation there, and both the DNC and MoveOn have new Iraq adverts. The new MoveOn ad is, in my opinion, particulary strong and visually arresting. Here’s the link: http://www.moveonpac.org
Remember how Bush got a lead prior to the debates in 2000? What if Nation polls show a Kerry ‘bounce’ in the next two weeks? It could turn the whole conversation around. And then the news media will talking about how Kerry seems unstoppable.
Its like a close football game. Once the defenses get tired, whoever has the ball last wins.
I honestly don’t see Bush creating a big surge in October, when he is going to be debating Kerry mano a mano. Kerry isn’t going to let him pretend he is winning the larger war on terror or the smaller wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nor is Kerry going to let him say that the economy is turning the corner. The issue environment is totally in Kerry’s favor, and when they debate, Bush is finally going to be confronted with facts that are obvious to anyone with eyes to see (excepting of course, the media, who apparently cannot see reality no matter what).
To further mix some metaphores, Kerry is running downhill, while Bush is trying to push back the tide. If Bush had a 10 point lead, I would be predicting a close race. Given the facts on the ground, it is going to break for Kerry, and Bush is going to get clobbered.
It was in the WSJ.
Where is there additional information on this poll? Did Harris release the findings to the press? Can we expect to see any news coverage of it?