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Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

New ARG Polls Have the Race Very, Very Close

ARG is polling all 50 states and DC on the race for president and today they released the final 30 or so of these polls. Here’s how ARG summarized what their data had to say (but check out all their data at their website):

How close is the race for president?
George W. Bush is at 47% and John Kerry is at 46% in the weighted national popular vote.
Bush leads outside the margin of error in 17 states with 133 electoral votes.
Kerry leads outside the margin of error in 10 states with 132 electoral votes.
Bush has any lead in 29 states with 253 electoral votes.
Kerry has any lead in 20 states with 270 electoral votes.
Bush and Kerry are tied in Wisconsin and West Virginia.
Bush needs to defend small leads in 5 states – Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Ohio.
Kerry needs to defend small leads in 5 states – Maine, Florida, Minnesota, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.
Among men nationwide, 51% say they would vote for Bush and 42% say they would vote for Kerry.
Among women nationwide, 42% say they would vote for Bush and 50% say they would vote for Kerry.

And here’s a brief take from Alan Abramowitz on these data:

The results of the new 50-state ARG poll appear to be very much in line with other recent polls in the same states. Using today’s National Journal Scoreboard, I found other polls conducted by independent, nonpartisan, or bipartisan polling organizations during approximately the same time period in 22 states. On average, support for George Bush was 0.6 points lower and support for John Kerry was 1.8 points higher in the ARG poll compared with the poll conducted closest in time to the ARG poll.
ARG’s conclusion that the national race is a virtual dead heat is consistent with the results of other recent state polls conducted by independent, bipartisan, and nonpartisan polling organzations.

Alan promises a more detailed analysis on Friday, so look for his further thoughts then.

27 comments on “New ARG Polls Have the Race Very, Very Close

  1. gabby hayes on

    I believe Kerry will win Ohio and Florida, as well as Nevada, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
    Even the best of polls tend to favor the incumbent, and I think they’re all missing the real number, because they’re all forecasting past elections, not this one.

  2. gabby hayes on

    Football Madman wrote:
    Here’s a summary of this week’s polls
    Bush Kerry
    NBC/WSJ 50% 46%
    Dem. Corps 49% 49%
    Am. Research Grp 47% 46%
    Zogby 46% 43%
    C.S.M. 46% 43%
    Rasmussen 49% 45%
    If you consider that normally anywhere from 66% to 75% of undecided voters side with the challenger, it’s safe to say the race is now as close as it was on Election Day 2000.
    Posted by Football Madman at September 22, 2004 09:35 PM
    Well said.
    Factor in the Likely Voter distortion or misread, and it looks like a Kerry victory.

  3. tony on

    Agreed on the desire for a Colorado push. However, both Nevada and West Virginia only have 5 electoral votes. So New Hampshire plus either one of those solo gets a tie in the EV. That throws it to the House, who would certainly pick Bush. There’s an outside shot for the Dems to regain the Senate, in which case they might pick Edwards. But if it’s 50-50, Cheney can break the tie by voting for himself.

  4. scottso on

    Your scenarios make sense — though if Kerry actually holds all of the Gore 2000 states, including Iowa, then I think that NH + NV would (just barely) do it. NH + WV, however, would not.
    I still think that, of those non-FL scenarios, NH + CO is the best bet. Multiple polls from numerous sources have consistently shown that state to be Bush +1 or dead even, and neither the RNC nor the Swift Boat Liars seemed to have any effect on this one way or the other. If you factor in the undecided-for-Kerry vote, that probably means that Kerry is really slightly ahead and has been for a while. Two other factors make CO a prime target for swiping: first, the mounting Hispanic population of the state, which is a big democratic constituency; and second, a popular democratic senate candidate, who also happens to be Hispanic! That should really help Dem turnout (especially among Latinos).
    I hope the Kerry campaign and/or the DNC are really making a push in CO — surely they have figured out all this themselves (unless I’m missing something…).

  5. johnh on

    Re: Hurricanes and poll numbers–It is ironic that the Bushes are hoping that by tapping the resources of Big Government, i.e. FEMA, they will boost their approval ratings in Florida. Victims of “acts of God” i.e. explosive growth in the path of increasingly violent weather resulting from global warming, deserve help, while those who have lost their jobs due to outsourcing encouraged by Bush tax policies, are told to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Or maybe go to a church food pantry.

  6. Mike in MD on

    If Kerry loses Florida, maybe we should blame it on the weather!
    Seriously, I’m not sure if recent polling in the state is really reliable, as a lot of folks are probably missing electricity and phone service, or may not be at their regular homes (which in some cases no longer exist.)
    I think the 400-voter sample that a previous poster touted is awful small, however, with a large (5-point) error margin.
    I do think the president (and his brother) probably got a boost from the hurricanes, although that may not last through November. Though it’s not as though Kerry will stiff people on disaster relief if he’s elected. Perhaps Kerry should spend more time in damaged areas interacting with voters. That would lead to some favorable news footage.
    But if I were him, I wouldn’t be comfortable relying on Florida. Especially after last time, it’s questionable whether Jeb and Co. will provide us with a real reliable vote count (and then there’s that whole voting technology issue.)

  7. tony on

    Quick post for now.
    If the race went as it did in 2000, Bush wins 278-260.
    If Bush picks up Iowa and Wisconsin, that would make it Bush 295, Kerry 243.
    How to overturn that? Indeed, Florida would do it. While worrisome, a 400 sample of a subset of Florida right after the hurricanes doesn’t worry me too much. But I still hate to count on Florida.
    Ohio and New Hampshire combined don’t do it. That would just make it 271-267 Bush, a familiar number, but for unfaithful electors. So, Kerry would have to either pull back Wisconsin or Iowa, or grab another state, most likely Nevada, Colorado, Arkansas, or West Virginia, if ARG’s ordering is right. Maybe a Virginia or North Carolina slips in there, but that seems pretty unlikely.
    If Wisconsin goes Bush, basically Kerry needs to win Ohio or Florida, to my eye. And I hate to count on either of those two.
    If he can hold Wisconsin, it goes back to that New Hampshire+(Colorado or Arkansas or [Nevada and West Virginia]) scenario.
    A decision to pull ads out of Arkansas seems odd to me as that’s one of the ways that this all could sort out.
    As to Kerry’s voice…he has a cold. He and Bush are now hunkering down for the debates, so Kerry should be able to rest his voice for a day or two. As has been said ad naueum, the debates will be absolutely key for him.

  8. Smooth Jazz on

    Very prescient observation Scottso; Since Kerry starts an additional 7 electoral votes behind due to the census, he almost surely will have to win FLA and/or OH to win (NH alone isn’t going to do it) – And that is looking increasingly LESS likely given the Univ of Cincinnatti poll yesterday showing him trailing GWB by 11 points in OH, and the poll below showing him down 12 points in the critical I4 corridor.
    The I4 corridor running across central FLA is where FLA will be decided IMO insofar as this is the most balanced party ID part of the state. In 2000, Gore & GWB spilt this vote 50/50. For those of you who are into party IDs, the poll below shows 43% Dem, 42% Rep and 15% Ind. For Kerry to be behind by 10% in this critical part of the state is NOT good news for the Kerry, no matter how this is spun.
    Ooops I forgot: This poll is missing all the Dem kids & new voters with cell phones, so it is dramatically under polling Kerry supporters. They did somehow manage to include all the new voters who support GWB & GWB supporters with cell phones, but not Kerry’s.
    Central Flordia News
    Channel 13
    Sep 22, 2004
    400 likely November general election voters were interviewed in Tampa Bay and 400 were interviewed in Central Florida by Political/Media Research Inc. of Washington, D.C. from September 17-19, 2004.
    The margin for error on each region is plus or minus 5%.
    Overall I-4 Corridor results are derived by combining the results of both surveys, with responses weighted to reflect the difference between the total votes that typically come out of each region, which is higher in Tampa Bay by roughly a 3-to-2 margin.
    The overall margin for error on the combined I-4 Corridor results in plus or minus 3.5%.
    I-4 Corridor = Full I-4 Corridor from Tampa to the East Coast.
    Tampa = Greater Tampa Bay area only.
    Central FL= Orlando, Melbourne, Daytona Beach area.
    If the 2004 election for President were held today, for whom would you vote:
    PRESIDENTAL RACE: I-4 Corridor Tampa Central FL
    George W. Bush, Republican 51% 49% 53%
    John Kerry, Democrat 38% 39% 37%
    Ralph Nader, independent 2% 2% 1%
    Undecided 9% 10% 8%
    If the 2004 election for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat were held today, for whom would you vote:
    U.S. SENATE RACE: I-4 Corridor Tampa Central FL
    Betty Castor, Democrat 42% 46% 35%
    Mel Martinez, Republican 41% 35% 50%
    Undecided 17% 19% 14%
    QUESTION: Which issue will most influence your vote for a President or Senate candidate? The candidate’s stance on:
    INFLUENCING ISSUES: I-4 Corridor Tampa Central FL
    Homeland Security/War on Terror 27% 27% 26%
    Economy & Jobs 18% 17% 20%
    The War In Iraq 16% 16% 17%
    Health Care/Prescription Drugs 15% 14% 16%
    Moral Issues/Family Values 8% 8% 9%
    Education 3% 4% 1%
    Taxes 2% 3% 1%
    Environment 2% 2% 2%
    Other/Not Sure 9% 9% 8%
    PARTY: I-4 Corridor Tampa Central FL
    Democrat 43% 43% 42%
    Republican 42% 42% 43%
    independent 15% 15% 15%
    Male 49% 49% 50%
    Female 51% 51% 50%

  9. Marcus Lindroos on

    > Kerry would seem, to me, to be the decided underdog
    > in a debate with Bush. Not because of the facts, of
    > course, but because Bush is brilliant at coming of as
    > the down home folksy yay-hoo that people, for some
    > reason, seem to want in a president.
    I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment — but is this necessarily a bad thing?! “Everybody” now thinks Kerry is a long-winded stiffo who is unwilling or unable to clearly articulate what he believes in. On the other hand, “Shrub” cannot pull off his usual folksy-jokey act quite as easily this time, since he is now the President of the U.S. and he has to explain and justify quite a few embarrassing things about Iraq, jobs, the deficit etc.. The expectations on him when he was debating Al Gore four years ago were _FAR_ lower.

    If Kerry manages to come across as better informed while managing to give short, succinct and determined answers to questions — by no means an impossibility since he been a good closer in recent elections — he has got an _excellent_ chance of winning it all. In any case, the debates will be the first time that is effectively being “interviewed” by representatives of the American people in prime time, while everybody is watching. It’s a splendid opportunity for him to show he is not as bad as some people think. Probably his first *and* last opportunity in this regard, so it is difficult to overstate the importance of the TV debates.

    In contrast, people already know what “Shrub” stands for. Consequently, the best case scenario for the President is that Kerry implodes; I don’t think “Shrub’s” own performance will surprise or convince many people who were sceptical about him simply because he has been repeating basically the same message for years now.

  10. Jim on

    Kerry would seem, to me, to be the decided underdog in a debate with Bush. Not because of the facts, of course, but because Bush is brilliant at coming of as the down home folksy yay-hoo that people, for some reason, seem to want in a president.
    Personally, I don’t think that folksiness should be part of the criteria for evaluating a president. If it were, then I’d vote for my plumber. But the reality is that Kerry is going to have to come strong–really strong–if he’s going to defeat Bush in the debates. Again, it’s not about logic or issues or right vs. wrong. It’s about image. Sadly, a lot of voters in this country aren’t capable of going any deeper than that.

  11. Jeff on

    First time poster… so maybe I don’t know anything, but…
    That would be nice, but I somehow doubt that a monte carlo simulation like that paints an accurate picture of the actual election.
    I think that Kerry probably is coming back a bit, but he certainly lost quite a bit of his support from August. Seemingly, the race is at best dead even now, where as before it was favoring Kerry consistently by about 3 points (at least in Rasmussen).
    The ARG Poll definitely looks much better for Kerry than other polls that I’ve seen recently. Hopefully it’s as good as Ruy says it is.
    Unfortunately, it looks like Kerry is pulling advertising money from Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, and (most importantly) Missouri. Unless something dramatically changes with the debates, it looks like the campaign is writing these states off, despite Arkansas looking close in ARG’s poll. I suppose the debate at my Alma Mater (Go WashU!) could help Kerry in MO if he does well in it, but I think it’s safe to say that the electoral map looks worse for Kerry than it did Pre-August.
    On another note, I’m very surprised that CO, NV and WV are so close, and also a bit skeptical about it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’d be fantastic if Kerry could pull one of these off, but I have a feeling it won’t happen.
    Which basically brings up the same situation that Gore was in last time: Kerry has to win all of the “Gore” states plus either OH or FL. In terms of Kerry winning the “Gore” states… well, it looks like they will be just as tough to win as they were back in 2000. I think Kerry is definitely capable of doing it, but it seems like more of an uphill climb for Kerry than it does for Bush.
    Finally, though I’m making these points based on the polls, I can’t help but wonder if the polls are just somehow fundamentally wrong this time around. Despite what people say, I actually do know of at least one Gore voter that’s voting for Bush, but still anecdotally speaking, I know far more Bush voters who are now voting Kerry. Obviously, this is not scientific at all, but deep down I feel like the “Anti-Bush” factor isn’t being sampled properly in the polls. Perhaps that’s only what I want to think. =)
    Just my thoughts.

  12. BoomBoom on

    What’s Kerry doing to prep for the debates? I hope hes getting plenty of sleep and resting his voice…he needs to look presidential, especially needs to look confident. Hope they are working withsome writers to get some catchy quips…don’t underestimate dubya…he surprised Gore and me too.

  13. euzoius on

    The level of expertise at this site is very impressive. As you poll augerers dissect these national and state polls, is there a way to start determining whether the chances of another Bush loss of the popular vote, but victory in the electoral college, are increasing? Perhaps Kerry’s margin of victory will not be enough in NY, CA and IL for that to happen again, as his numbers seem to be sliding in thise states right now.

  14. cloudy on

    Two things: first the CBS/Rather brouhaha. How come so little focus on the possibility that this was to benefit Repubs. (Admittedly the Kerry campaign can’t GO NEAR this one, but bloggers should hammer away and write to papers, especially the NY Times, with evidence and cogent arguments. I still say Kerry can’t win unless he EFFECTIVELY and not belatedly counters the flipflop spin.
    Second, the debates. It’s significantly a matter of Kerry’s handling himself properly, and willingness to really respond to lies, especially ANY reference to the flipflop template, very firmly. In the past, he failed to do this with O’neill in 71, in the primary debates when (guess who?) Dan Rather presented a study purporting to show him the “most liberal” US Senator and Edwards at #4, when BOTH voted for the Iraq authorization (neither Rather nor the National Journal are to be trusted), and in the campaign. Bush responded to the NYU speech (with lies) forcefully within 24 hours. It’s not Bush’s pathological lying but Kerry’s ineffective half-hearted countering to charges that is the danger.
    Then there’s how the press spins it. If Kerry lets himself be painted by the opposition, and then the press spins it further, he’s a goner, even if the polls are close now. If he uses the debate to call Bush on key false spins in his campaign, instead of diplomatically evading hitting nails on the head, for example the formalistic legal approach to the SwiftBoatVeteransForSlime smear, then he will have Bush nailed. Guess which approach I bet he will follow and with what results.

  15. scottso on

    It’s great to see Kerry getting 270 electoral votes in the ARG data — plus maybe 15 more, if you count WV and WI, which is probably appropriate, given that undecideds go overwhelmingly for the challenger in an election with an incumbent.
    The troubling thing, however, is that when you get down to it that electoral vote “virtual victory” is due almost entirely to Kerry being ahead in FL — a chancy proposition. I have always been very nervous about Kerry’s chances there, just because FL truly is the swing state to end all swing states, and because Jeb & co will likely do everything they can to steal the state if there’s any possibility. So I keep wondering: is there any realistic way that Kerry could win this thing without FL (or OH)?
    I think it’s possible, but tough; many polls from other organizations have shown him ahead in NH (4 votes),but he would need to steal another medium-sized state from Bush to win without FL — and I think the only reasonable target is CO, which all polls have shown being neck-and-neck for the last month or more. Kerry surely has to hold PA to win (I think everyone would agree on that), and I have a hunch that OH will slide to Bush in the end (other polls don’t look so great there). So my calculus is: assuming Kerry takes PA and loses OH, he needs to either a) take FL or b) take NH + CO to win the election.
    So why do I hear that the Dems are reducing their ads in CO? Does their internal polling show something different than everybody else’s public polls?

  16. Football Madman on

    Here’s a summary of this week’s polls
    Bush Kerry
    NBC/WSJ 50% 46%
    Dem. Corps 49% 49%
    Am. Research Grp 47% 46%
    Zogby 46% 43%
    C.S.M. 46% 43%
    Rasmussen 49% 45%
    If you consider that normally anywhere from 66% to 75% of undecided voters side with the challenger, it’s safe to say the race is now as close as it was on Election Day 2000.

  17. Ed on

    I was just watching Chris Mathews and I think he said that a new CNN/Gallup poll showed kerry and Bush tied. If all these new polls are correct it looks like Kerry’s get tough attitude is working.

  18. wonkie on

    Thank you, EDM staff. I think Kerry is doing very well given the rightwing biased media.
    We need to create a Democratic Noise Machine to counter the Repblican disinformation campaigns. I also heartily approve of Kerry’s decision to focus on Iraq and to speak more forcefully. I think the more attacking he does and the less defending the better.
    I hope he realizes that Bush is a good debater. Bush is good because he is a pathological liar, and he understands that many Americans will evaluate the debate in terms of the perceived personality of the debater, not the substance of the remarks. Kerry, because he is honest and intelligent, is at a distinct disadvantage.
    In this election the debates may prove critical.

  19. Lawrence on

    Bush’s numbers coming down after his big public relations show is consistant with the peculiar pattern his popularity ratings have shown all through his presidency: large bounces on big ticket items like 9/11 and the start of the Iraq war, always followed by slow but persistant declines. Other presidents have had much more stable favorability ratings. Hopefully, the last bounce has come and gone.
    But the debates are the last big chance to influence numbers, and that will be the NEXT to last chapter in the polling story.
    Keep in mind at all times: nothing is certain in a close race until the election day numbers are all in. Except, of course, for Florida…

  20. Jody on

    The reposting of the site policy was helpful.
    I too follow ARG and Rasmussen. I also review the Electoral Vote Predictor every morning. There appears a slight shift to Kerry in the last week. This shift is in line with my non-scientific sense (gained throiugh reading the editorial pages of approximately 10 papers a day).
    If I were to predict – I think the trend will continue and Kerry will win in a close race (based on swing voters, minority voters, and newly registered voters).
    Lets hope the MO continues.

  21. John Mcc. on

    Jeezusaleezus…That’s a TWELVE percent “drop” for Bush in less than a week
    Time to beach the swift boat and jump in the life boats…
    Bush can’t stand another 6 weeks of losses like this!

  22. Big Dog on

    Sep 22
    Rasmussen shows a slight uptick for Kerry in FL now two days in a row. Trend? Too early to tell.
    Too early to throw a party, but the ARG data Ruy posted today must be giving freepers the vapors.

  23. tony on

    Interesting points from Alan Abramowitz. It’s helpful to know how this poll compares to others. That suggests that the spread is about a 3% Bush lead at this point (1% for ARG, 2.4% for ARG being slightly more favorable for Kerry).
    I’m gonna cut and paste my comment from another thread. I posted it there, but it’s more appropriate for the ARG thread:
    Looking over the ARG results…first, they note a 47-46 Bush lead, across the country. They see Bush up 133-132 in states outside the margin of error. They see Kerry up 270-253 in states with any lead. Um, I keep saying this, but this race is gonna be close.
    Here are the 27 states with single digit differences, starting with the most pro-Bush, ending with the most pro-Kerry:
    Mississippi Bush +9
    Louisiana Bush +8
    Tennessee Bush +7
    Arizona Bush +6
    Missouri Bush +6
    Virginia Bush +6
    North Carolina Bush +5
    Arkansas Bush +3
    Iowa Bush +2
    Nevada Bush +2
    Ohio Bush +2
    New Hampshire Bush +2
    Colorado Bush +1
    West Virginia tie
    Wisconsin tie
    Florida Kerry +1
    Pennsylvania Kerry +1
    Minnesota Kerry +2
    Oregon Kerry +2
    Maine Kerry +4
    New Mexico Kerry +5
    Illinois Kerry +6
    Washington Kerry +7
    New Jersey Kerry +8
    Michigan Kerry +8
    Delaware Kerry +9
    Maryland Kerry +9
    If you do the cut at states being within 3% one way or the other, that includes (12):
    Bush 2000 states–Arkansas, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Florida, West Virginia
    Gore 2000 states–Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin
    For a 4-6% difference (7):
    Bush 2000 states–North Carolina, Arizona, Virginia, Missouri
    Gore 2000 states–Maine (and that danged distict…), New Mexico, Illinois
    For a 7-9% difference (8):
    Bush 2000 states–Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi
    Gore 2000 states–Washington, Michigan, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland
    I’d think those first dozen states are the main battleground these days, with Maine and New Mexico added given recent polls by other organizations. That yields 7 Bush 2000 states and 7 Gore 2000 states.
    But keep an eye on some of those other states to see if there is a discernible shift in the near future.


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