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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

New WSJ/NBC News Poll Shows Tight Race

Bush leads Kerry 48-45 percent among nation-wide RV’s, with 2 percent for Nader, 1 percent for none/other and 4 percent unsure, according to a Wall St. Journal/NBC News poll conducted Sept. 17-19.

19 comments on “New WSJ/NBC News Poll Shows Tight Race

  1. Bill Makuch on

    The 53% was from Rasmussen, which tracks daily.
    AP poll just out with the president up by 9 among RV, and a 54% approval rating.
    But here’s what’s interesing. Right track/Wrong Track 45/52, yet the president gets a 54% job approval rating. That’s a 9 point gap of people that think the country is on the wrong track, yet approve of the president’s job performance.
    What to conclude?
    1) The country is on the wrong track even though the president is doing a good job
    2) They’re concerned about the track, but personally like the president and that makes them biased
    Either way, the challenge for Senator Kerry to is close this gap and convince voters that the president’s policies are to blame. Furthermore, he has to convince voters that he can do better. Or, at least convince them that they should gamble that he couldn’t do much worse. Clinton and Perot teamed up to convince voters of this in 1992, but the effort so far this year has fallen short.

  2. gabby hayes on

    Bush is toast. If it weren’t for the 3 or 4 badly skewed polls out there, Republicans wouldn’t be claiming Bush is up at all.
    All the efforts to create a sense of fate about the Bush campaign have failed.
    The Dow is now 250 points lower than it was three weeks ago, when Bush allegedly had a double digit lead coming out of the RNC.
    The Dow could drop below 10K tomorrow, and would have if Bush hadn’t used the SPR to lower prices. He had to, big oil asked him to. Bush is such a fraud, a complete tool of the oil industry, the only industry to have record profits in the past 3 years.
    The WAR is a complete mess, and all the happy talk by Fox won’t change it. It is a bigger mess today than it has ever been, and it will be a bigger mess tomorrow. This is what happens when guys who don’t know anything about fighting engage in wars.
    The WAR and OIL will dominate the dialogue for the next 40 days, and that means Bush loses.
    I predict polls will begin to show Kerry ahead following the first debate, and he will remain ahead. Not the bad ones like Gallup, but the real ones.

  3. bruhrabbit on

    Not to dispute your approval ratings, but where are you getting his rating as high as 53% (is this for terrorism) b/c frankly I have not seen numbers that high anywhere except for his ability to handle terrorism. His approval rating on Iraq are low. His approval on the economy are low. The only place they have been consistently high is again on terrorism (moment of partisan opinion: is anyone else confused by this difference in ratings?) His ratings have consistently hovered at or been slightly below 50 percent, and have begun in last 2 weeks to creep down a point or two. So I am curious- where are you getting these numbers?

  4. thecreature on

    I may be wrong, but wasn’t Quinnipac the same poll that, four years ago said that Maryland was gonna be close? In reality, MD landslided to Gore 56-40.

  5. Frenchfries on

    So, Quinnipiac puts Bush ahead. Fair game. Kerry’s gonna catch up again considering the attitudes towards the war and the economy.
    But what on earth does that have to do with the hurricanes? I think this is just a weird contention that the Republicans would like to spread amongst the pundits. Or did I miss Dubya strolling around in rubber boots?
    By the way, EDM team: I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds it exhausting scrolling down huge copied articles. I think some important exerpts or a synopsis or the link would be enough.

  6. Doofus on

    Smooth: I see your Quinnipac Florida poll and raise it this ARG poll:
    American Research Group, Inc.
    State: Florida
    Electoral votes: 27
    Sample size: 600 likely voters
    Sample dates: Sep 17-20
    Margin of error: Plus or minus 4 percentage points
    Bush Kerry Nader Others Undecided
    Total 45 46 2 1 6
    Party:* Contribution Bush Kerry Nader Others Undecided
    Republicans 39% 85 8 1 1 5
    Democrats 42% 9 82 2 1 6
    Independents/Other 19% 44 46 2 1 7
    Men 45% 50 43 2 1 4
    Women 55% 41 49 1 1 7
    * Are you registered to vote as a Republican, a Democrat, or something else?
    Back to ARG home

  7. Smooth Jazz on

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
    Sep 23, 2004
    On average, Bush leads state, but poll numbers vary widely
    Surveys in Wisconsin reflect state’s crucial role in election
    Posted: Sept. 22, 2004
    Reflecting a similar pattern in national surveys, a raft of new Wisconsin polls offers divergent pictures of the presidential race, from a dead heat to a burgeoning lead for George W. Bush.
    According to a new statewide Badger Poll, Bush enjoys a clear advantage in Wisconsin, a state Democrats have carried since the 1980s and can ill afford to lose.
    Bush not only leads Democrat John Kerry by double digits in the poll, but is viewed much more favorably by Wisconsinites and enjoys an immense advantage on the issue of terrorism.
    A new ABC News poll of likely voters in Wisconsin offers similar findings. Bush holds a 10-point lead in that survey, enjoys a big edge over Kerry on handling terrorism and Iraq, and is seen by far more voters as a strong leader.
    A poll released last week by Gallup also showed Bush leading Kerry, in that case by eight points.
    But that’s not the whole story.
    In non-partisan Wisconsin surveys released this week by the American Research Group, Mason-Dixon and Zogby Interactive, Bush and Kerry are within two points of each other.
    The sheer volume of public polling in the state is a measure of Wisconsin’s competitiveness and strategic importance.
    Who’s really winning?
    But what does it say about where things stand between Bush and Kerry?
    Political scientist Charles Franklin of the University of Wisconsin said that given the normal variation from one poll to another, the surveys should be taken together.
    “Averaging across three or four or five polls in a similar time period is a way better estimate of what opinion in the state really is than counting on any one poll for everything,” Franklin said.
    That would put the race about where some outside analysts see it: a Bush advantage, perhaps mid-single digits, but one that is hardly etched in stone.
    The Badger Poll, taken Sept. 15-21 by the University of Wisconsin Survey Center, interviewed 504 eligible voters. Among them, Bush led Kerry 52% to 38%, with independent Ralph Nader at 4%. The results were the same when only likely voters were questioned.
    Pollster G. Donald Ferree Jr. said the survey suggests that while views of the incumbent president are somewhat mixed, “at least in the short run, Kerry has not been doing very well in meeting the test of being that acceptable alternative.”
    In a June Badger Poll, 36% of those surveyed had a favorable impression of Kerry and 36% had an unfavorable impression.
    In the new poll, Kerry’s favorable rating remained the same, but his unfavorable rating climbed to 48%.
    Bush’s advantages over Kerry are striking in some areas. Asked who will protect the United States from terrorism, 52% said Bush and 15% said Kerry. That margin grew over the last Badger Poll in June. Asked who has a consistent record on the issues, 46% said Bush and 16% said Kerry.
    Neither candidate enjoyed an advantage on the questions of who would improve the economy, deal well with the federal budget or understand the problems ordinary people face. Kerry enjoyed an edge on protecting the environment.
    Ferree said he thinks the election dynamics in the state are “playing to Bush’s strengths at the moment. (But) I do not think this reflects a settled and determined choice.”
    In the ABC poll released Wednesday night, Kerry enjoys a small advantage among Wisconsin voters on jobs and health care, but Bush has a much larger edge on handling terrorism and Iraq. Bush also enjoys a big edge on a number of personal attributes, from taking clear stands, to being a strong leader to having an appealing personality.
    In the ABC poll, as in the Badger Poll, more people had a negative view of Kerry than positive view. That wasn’t true of Bush.
    But both the ABC and Mason-Dixon polls found significant division and unease over the war in Iraq. Half of registered voters in the ABC poll said the war in Iraq wasn’t worth fighting.
    Bush’s best bet
    The two campaigns are fighting fiercely over Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes. Even some Democrats believe Wisconsin is Bush’s best opportunity to pick up a state he lost in 2000. Among the reasons: the closeness (two-tenths of percentage point) of the contest four years ago; a 2004 job rebound that is stronger than in other battlegrounds; and the Bush campaign’s intense strategic focus on the state.
    The President will make his fourth bus trip in Wisconsin Friday, stopping in Janesville and Racine. Kerry, meanwhile, will spend parts of four days in the state beginning Sunday, a stretch largely devoted to preparation for his first debate with Bush next Thursday in south Florida.
    Kerry spokesman George Twigg termed the Badger Poll flawed.
    “The majority of polling continues to show this race is a dead heat. If there’s any advantage (for Bush), it’s very slight,” said Twigg.
    “We continue to believe that Bush’s wrong priorities on health care costs and job losses and other key issues are going to hurt him in the long run,” Twigg said.
    Twigg also contended that the pool of voters surveyed in the Badger Poll was skewed toward Republicans. Republicans accounted for 36% of those surveyed in the Badger Poll, Democrats 29%. In the ABC poll, Republicans made up 35% of the likely voters surveyed, Democrats 29%.
    Twigg pointed out that Democrats were a bigger share of the state’s 2000 voters than Republicans, according to exit polls.
    Franklin, of the University of Wisconsin, said that’s one reason to view these polls as a snapshot rather than a forecast, since the makeup of the state’s electorate in November is unlikely to be as Republican as it is in the latest Badger Poll.
    Bush strategist Sara Taylor said Wednesday that in the aggregate the recent polls suggest the president enjoys a lead of five or six points in Wisconsin, similar to where the race is nationally, she said. She contended Kerry has been hurt by campaign stumbles in the state, including fumbling the name of the Green Bay Packers’ Lambeau Field, calling it “Lambert.”
    “Also, the economy has improved. That has an impact,” said Taylor. “But it’s certainly a state that’s going to be very competitive to the end.”
    The disparity in current polls is not confined to Wisconsin. For instance, a recent national Gallup poll taken Sept. 13-15 gave Bush a 14-point lead, while a Pew poll taken Sept. 11-14 gave Bush a one-point lead. In a poll released Wednesday by NBC News, Bush’s lead was four points.
    Pollsters say some of the differences reflect volatility in the electorate, some reflect different techniques for sampling voters and identifying who is and isn’t likely to vote.
    But much of the polling spread is simply normal variation, said Franklin, who has monitored the differences in presidential survey results throughout the year.
    “These variations are fairly typical of how much variation we see in polling,” says Franklin. He said the average variation in presidential polls in this race has been between seven and eights points in each direction.
    “If Bush is up by seven, you’d expect to see, out of a bunch of polls, one or two showing him up by 12 or 14 and one or two show him down by one,” said Franklin.

  8. demtom on

    Bill Makuch, will you please cite those latest polls that show Bush above 50%? If they include Gallup and CBS, they’re the two that over-sampled Republicans, so naturally the approval rating would be as artificially higher as the match-up numbers.
    The polls I’ve seen recently still show Bush below 50 — some not that much (47-48-49), but still below the Mendoza line. No question Bush is in better shape that Bush I or Carter, but leveling out in Gerry Ford territory is nothing to get cocky about.
    I see no poliical history suggesting challenger favorability rating matters much. The Carter people did a great job highlighting all Reagan’s negatives — it’s the reason he couldn’t take a consistent poll lead despite Carter’s problems — but, come Election Day, Carter still polled his approval rating and Reagan harvested most of the rest (though the Anderson anomaly clouded the results).
    Put it simply: relying on a challenger’s weaknesses to re-elect an unpopular incumbent is not a smart bet.

  9. Mom on

    The Weird NJ polls appear to be just that…weird.
    Compare with American Research Group’s poll this week, which shows an 8 point Kerry lead in NJ. That’s much more like what we’ll see there in Nov. Some of the outlier polling was conducted on or near 9/11 and some of it just appears to be statistical noise.
    Sleep tight, everyone.

  10. Curious on

    Yes, I, too, would like Ruy — or anyone expert in this — to give us some insights into job approval as a predictor. As for direction of country, Gallup — for what that’s worth — says that the latter is predictive only with the attribution of causality. I think I read that here in Ruy’s blog.
    Also, I’ve heard some relatively disinterested people on political talk shows say that an incumbent below 50% is in deep trouble.
    Any clinical — and not ideology — driven insights into these?
    Call me Curious in Catalina.

  11. Bill Makuch on

    Job approval as predictor:
    I haven’t seen any discussion here on this topic. The president’s low point this year was 41% in a May poll by CBS. In May of 1980, President Carter was at 43%, while President George H. Bush was at 42%. However, their numbers continued sinking and were in the 30%’s by election day. On the other hand, President Bush is now above 50% in 4 of the last 5 polls. Even the lowest reading, 47% in the NBC poll, is a far cry from the 34% and 38% readings of the last two incumbents that lost (I’m ignoring the Economist because we don’t have a track record on them). Furthermore, Senator Kerry’s approval ratings are dismal, with favorable ratings in the 30’s. I haven’t seen any history on this, but it’s hard to believe a challenger with such low ratings could be elected.

  12. Smooth Jazz on

    NBC/WSJ has a very credible poll, run by Dems and Reps; And I wouldn’t dispute national polls being close nationwide.
    However, Kerry will not be bouyed by the following: QUNNIPIAC POLLS SHOWS GWB UP BY 8 POINTS IN FLORIDA. I can assure you that Quinnipiac is NOT a right wing poll.
    Keep in mind Kerry HAS to win one big red state (ie FLA or OH) or multiple red states (WV, NEV & NH) to make up for the census changes. Given recent polls showing Kerry noticeably trailing in FLA & OH, his path becomes much more difficult gievn the latest numbers.
    It’s looking increasingly like the debates will be Kerry’s last shot, barring some unforseen cataclysmic event.
    Quinnipiac University
    Sep 23, 2004
    Polling Results
    September 23, 2004 – Hurricanes Blow Bush Into Lead In Florida, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Senate Race Is Too Close To Call
    President George W. Bush leads Democratic challenger John Kerry 49 – 41 percent, with 5 percent for independent candidate Ralph Nader, among Florida voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
    This reverses Kerry’s 47 – 41 percent lead among registered voters in an August 12 poll by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN uh-pe-ack) University.
    With Nader out of the race, Bush has a 48 – 43 percent lead over Kerry.
    Florida voters give Bush a 50 – 47 percent approval rating, reversing a 54 – 44 percent disapproval August 12. Voters approve 78 – 14 percent of the way President Bush has responded to recent hurricanes.
    Voters also approve 87 – 9 percent of the way Gov. Jeb Bush has responded to the hurricanes, pushing Gov. Bush’s overall approval to 62 – 30 percent, up from a 45 – 44 percent split August 12.
    “The ill winds of the hurricane season have blown a lot of political good for President Bush in Florida pushing him ahead of Sen. John Kerry who led in the Sunshine State in August,” said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
    “When a chief executive shows up in a time of crisis acting like a strong leader, his support rises dramatically. That’s what the hurricanes have done for President Bush – and his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush in Florida,” Richards added.
    Florida voters give President Bush a 45 – 36 percent favorability rating, with 14 percent mixed. This reverses a negative 38 – 43 percent favorability August 12.
    Kerry gets a negative 34 – 41 percent favorability rating, with 19 percent mixed, down from a 39 – 31 percent favorability August 12.
    Looking at presidential qualities, Florida voters say:
    57 – 37 percent that Bush is more of a leader than Kerry;
    54 – 37 percent that Bush does a better job explaining what he will do as President.
    “The hurricanes were indeed ill winds for Kerry who loses badly to Bush when voters are asked which candidate acts more like a leader and which one gives a clearer view of what he would do as President,” Richards said.
    Florida voters say 46 – 49 percent that going to war in Iraq was the wrong thing to do. Only 40 percent say the U.S. economy is ‘excellent’ or ‘good,’ while 59 percent say it is ‘not so good’ or ‘poor.’ Senate Race
    In the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Betty Castor gets 43 percent, while Republican Mel Martinez gets 42 percent, a statistical tie.
    “The Senate race is a dead heat right now as Florida voters struggle to learn about two candidates who have been competing with hurricanes and presidential candidates for the political spotlight. Both Martinez and Castor are unknown factors to about four in 10 Florida voters,” Richards said.
    From September 18 – 21, Quinnipiac University surveyed 819 Florida registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.
    The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and the nation as a public service and for research. For additional data — http://www.quinnipiac.edu and quicklinks

  13. gabby hayes on

    It’s easy. The polls that are real are the ones that show the race fairly tight. The ones that don’t show the race tight are flawed.

  14. Dave G on

    Does anyone have the party ID for the NBC/WSJ poll? At this point, I consider all bottom-line results to be worthless without this data (or data on who participants voted for in 2000).

  15. Panic in Princeton on

    Hello all,
    Does Ruy or any poster have any comment on the alarming polling coming out of NJ? How did Kerry lose a 20 point lead, to now looking at a dead heat here?


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