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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Persuadable Voters Still Not Persuaded

Even as Bush has opened up a small lead in the national polls–and I’ve tried to offer some evidence in my posts that this lead is underwhelming–evidence has been accumulating that he remains weak among the kind of independent and swing voters he needs to form an electoral majority.
In fact, the Annenberg Election Survey has just released data that indicate, while Bush made some small gains among the overall electorate when comparing the pre-GOP convention and post-GOP convention periods, he has actually lost ground among “persuadable voters” (those voters who are undecided or who say there is a “good chance” they could change their mind about the candidate they currently support).
For example, Bush’s favorability rating fell from 47 percent favorable/30 percent unfavorable among persuadables in August (August 9-29) to 43/33 after the GOP convention (September 3-12). And Kerry’s rating among this group actually has gone up: from 36/25 to 43/25 (now somewhat better than Bush’s).
In addition, Bush’s overall job rating among persuadables is now 44 percent approval/49 percent disapproval; his job rating on the economy is 32/63 and his job rating on Iraq is 34/59. Even his job rating on terrorism is only 50/41. And all of these ratings are now lower among persuadables, not higher, than they were in August
Bush has also lost significant ground among persuadables since August on some key candidate characteristics including “cares about people like me”, “shares my values”, “out of touch with people like me”, “stubborn” and “arrogant”. These voters are now more liikely, not less likely, to think the positive attributes apply to Kerry and the negative attributes to Bush.
In short, the persuadables aren’t persuaded and appear to be ripe for Democratic gains. What’s the key? One possibility is Iraq. Persuadables are now less convinced than ever that Bush has a clear plan for bringing the situation in Iraq to a successful conclusion–just 17 percent now think so. Unfortunately, only 15 percent of persuadables think Kerry has such a plan–not much of a difference and not even one in Kerry’s favor.
Make that difference a big one in Kerry’s favor and Bush’s weakness among persuadables could translate into big gains for the Democratic ticket.

32 comments on “Persuadable Voters Still Not Persuaded

  1. Bel on

    phatcat… I share your view.. to win this election is quite a massive challenge. Bush has this place in such a mess that it will be hell to fix.
    Kerry will age 15 years in the first four years, he will wish he had passed on this… but someone has to do it and Kerry raised his hand to do the job.. hence, he has to do it.
    To leave it to Bush will mean that the deficit will reach figures that cant be counted… look what he achieved in four years. He will stay the course in Iraq and that will mean ever increasing disaster and growing hatred throughout the world… but bush really does deserve the opportunity to fix this crap he created. If people didnt matter, I would campaign for Bush… but alas, people matter to me… so I support Kerry.

  2. nixbush on

    standa has something…”What happened to Bush’s big lead ? ”
    Repreat it over and over to everyone you know. This should be hammered over and over until the press picks it up and starts running with it.

  3. Worst. President. EVER. on

    tony –
    9/11 doesn’t seem to have “stuck” on GWB, so why would something else stick on the next Prez?
    Only one reason – because the rabid fascist (let’s just stop all the cutsie names like “freepers”) pundits and their slavering followers will howl and rant and rage nonstop if it happens.
    We really are at a crossroads here. Four more years of Bush is a walk into a dark tunnel with no discernable exit. I will go through the next four years with dread in my heart in that case.

  4. tony on

    Amplifying two points here…
    About the variability of polls. Some of it is that there are so *many* polls. Given that, it’s not surprising that some of them give you odd results.
    About 2008. I’m inclined to think that you’re right. And that’s the one thing that makes me worry about a Kerry victory. Some true nastiness seems virtually certain to happen during the next presidential term. If Kerry is president, it will be stuck on him, and it’s likely that the media story line will be about how Democrats cause all the security problems. Yuck.

  5. phatcat on

    Legitimate polling companies are not in the business of trying to get a certain result. Its simply a matter of credibility – if your poll is accused of being biased, then it hurts your business. Remember, many of these polling companies are also market research companies, and their business depends on their reputation.
    The reason why you get so many different results is that there are simply too many things that are difficult to control: response rates, sampling frames, non-response characteristics, etc. And its getting worse.

  6. warp resident on

    Seems to me you can get any result you want from polling 6-700 people. It just depends on how you define a “likely voter”.

  7. phatcat on

    There is no Kerry surge, just as there was no Bush surge. The political and media winds were blowing Kerry’s way in August, and now they’re blowing Bush’s way in September. But nothing has really changed fundamentally – the race is close nationally, there are only 10 or so state races truly in play (and you’re crazy if you think NY, NJ or IL are truly in trouble). Two months ago the punditry was all about how Bush was in big trouble, and now its the same for Kerry.
    Stop the madness. Its close. It will be to the end.
    But in the end, Kerry will win. I don’t envy him, quite honestly, because he’s going to inherit a terrible situation in Iraq and will get a lot of the blame when it blows up (and it will).
    I’m of the mind that whichever party is not in power in 2008 is going to win.

  8. standa on

    What happened to Bush’s big lead ? Must have been a false perception.
    According to the latest Harris Interactive poll Kerry secured 48 percent of the intended vote, compared with 47 percent for Bush.
    Also more Americans must be waking up to the FACT that George W. Bush is a FAILURE, has NOT earned our TRUST, and should be FIRED.
    The Kerry surge is very real and perfectly timed.
    And the the debates will put Kerry on top for a victory on Nov 2.

  9. Lorika on

    Let’s not forget what ACTUALLY happened in FL. Gore did win there and it’s only because of the repubs dirty tricks and stopping the recount that made it possible for Bush to *get appointed by the supreme court*. What a disgrace for the supposed model of democracy for the rest of the world.
    Let’s do everything in our power to make sure it doesn’t happen again. If you see anything fishy going on at your polling place Nov. 2nd report it. Volunteer to be an election judge to keep and eye on things from the inside. It wouldn’t hurt to bring a camera to the polls either, I did to my primary and got a picture of a poster that our Sec. of State (a fan of Katherine Harris) wanted posted that would have been discriminatory if enforced (luckily it wasn’t).
    Here’s a great analysis of Harris’ dirty tricks in FL:

  10. Lawrence on

    C’mon, guys, wait for the debates. A week is a lifetime in politics.
    Gallup in mid September had Gore ahead 51 – 42. Two weeks later it had Bush ahead 50 – 42. At this point in 1980 Gallup reported Carter 44, Regan 40.
    Besides, an administration report our today predicted a high likelyhood of civil war next year in Iraq. As you may have seen recently, the “liberal” (my ass) press has NOT been reporting how we have been losing control in Iraq (since ceding Fallujah, we have lost control of Ramadi, Samarra, etc.) Please recall that Richard Nixon won by a landslide in 1972, therefore destroying the democratic party forever and assuring perpetual dominance of the republican party, as we all know.
    Can you say “Bush Impeachment”?

  11. standa on

    sorry Tim1965 you just don’t “Get It” so here’s my Reality Check post again for your edification 😉
    FACT: Many Americans are not that bright and are primarily persuaded by the gross image manipulation and false perceptions of Bushco.
    FACT: There was plenty of gross image manipulation and false perceptions in 2000 and Gore/Leiberman almost beat Bush/Cheney
    FACT: But in 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.
    FACT: Bushco is relying almost 100% on gross image manipulation and false perceptions, and little on their abysmal and factual track record, to win in 2004.
    Are more than 50% of Americans that stupid and gullable ?
    I find it hard to believe that more than 50% of Americans cannot see that George W. Bush is a FAILURE, has NOT earned our TRUST, and should be FIRED.
    Kerry/Edwards have a much better plan for America and Americans and should win on Nov 2.

  12. bob on

    Wow… Kerry is up by six in New York. Can’t wait for Ruy’s explanation on this one.
    Seems like you dems have lots of faith in polls when they are favorable. Now that things have gone south — they’re “bullshit.”
    4 more years.

  13. BJ Clinton on

    “Almost beat Bush/Cheney”? As I remember, that result was an almost inconceivable upset. A sitting vp coming off 8 years of peace and prosperity knocked off because voters just didn’t like him.
    They don’t like Kerry either. You guys are pinning all your hopes on the debates but the result will be the same. The more voters see Kerry, the more they dislike him.
    C’mon, even partisan Dems don’t really like Kerry.
    4 More Years!

  14. Tim1965 on

    I think everyone should be leery of the Survey USA polls coming out of Florida, New Jersey, Illinois and Nevada.
    1) The poll sample is a little low. Good margin-of-error would argue for 1,000 respondents in the sample, and Survey USA often opts for just over 700.
    2) I’m not seeing anything in Survey USA’s data which help me judge the reliability of the poll. What’s the R-to-D ratio of respondents? Is the poll being weighted to meet socio-demographic trends in the population? What’s the response-rate? Does the response-rate break down geographically or socio-economically? Not a clue.
    3) A big problem for me, at this juncture, is that Survey USA is surveying likely voters — a subsample that is unlikely to give an accurate picture of the true state of the electorate at this point in time.
    4) Survey USA’s data often seem out of line with most other polling data. For example, most other polls show Kerry ahead by 2-3 points in New Jersey — alarming, given the state’s strongly pro-Dem leanings. But still, Kerry is ahead. Similarly, most other polls show Bush ahead by 1-2 points in Florida, but Survey USA shows Bush blowing Kerry out and widening his lead over time. Do all the due-diligence you want, and still Survey USA’s data is off the norm most other polls are showing.
    I, too, want to see an analysis of what the f**k is going on in New Jersey. Why is the race so tight there? What’s going on? Did the beheading of that New Jerseyean a couple months ago really roil state politics that much? (It can’t be McGreevey; almost every poll shows his support very high, and general support for Dems in general and particular Democratic candidates remain largely unchanged pre- and post-outing.)
    It’s not “what’s wrong with Kansas.” It’s “what’s wrong with New Jersey”!

  15. standa on

    Jim, while there is a measure of truth in what you say many Americans are not that bright I cannot agree that more than 50% are primarily persuaded by the gross image manipulation of Bushco.
    I think you’re selling more Americans short who actually see through the Bushco ruse
    FACT: There was plenty of image manipulation in 2000 and Gore/Leiberman almost beat Bush/Cheney
    FACT: In 2000 Bush/Cheney did not have a ABYSMAL performance record on the economy, jobs, healthcare, education, the environment, Iraq to be measured against.
    The Net Net: George W. Bush is a FAILURE, has NOT earned our TRUST, and should be FIRED.
    Forget the bullshit polls… Kerry/Edwards win on Nov 2.

  16. tim on

    what about florida……..
    what are the voter distribution of the counties in
    florida most impacted by hurricanes?
    i belive that orlando(orange) , palm beach county , escambia(pensacola) are republican counties and that turnout willl be depressed due to the preoccupation of rebuilding.
    thoughts from the experts?

  17. RonK, Seattle on

    The Annenberg survey gives 20 direct comparative impression questions. Counting All Voters (not just persuadables), Bush improved his margin over Kerry in 19 categories from August to September. [The 20th category, “Stubborn”, is equivocal.]
    Alternative analysis: Bush swept August persuadables into September committeds, while Kerry leaked committeds into the persuadable compartment.
    The residual September persuadables think more like Kerry, but don’t want Kerry.

  18. Jake on

    Ruy, I got a call yesterday from a GOP pollster. I asked how they got their list. I’m not registered as a Republican…but officially as an Independent. He admitted he had a lot of independents on his list to call. I aggreed to listen to his questions. He then asked if I was pro-life, pro-2nd amnedment, and if I was voting for Bush.
    Obviously, they’re trying to call and reach undecided independents through these “polls” (shades of South Carolina primary in 2000). I added this to the string to show people that THEY are mobilizing grass roots efforts on emotion-based topics. When I fired back questions about the actual facts and Bush’s record, he couldn’t answer my questions and he went away sputtering like a Model A.
    We can take them out by POUNDING the facts of Bush’s record and dispelling the myth he is “virtuous,” “decisive,” & “humble.”
    WE can demand that the media (via email, phone calls, etc.) report all the story and stop the meme that Kerry is sliding.
    They WANT us to believe Kerry is doomed. We can win. We have to push hard…all of us. GET INVOLVED.

  19. Jim J on

    How hilarious that a guy with the handle “BJ Clinton” would talk about someone else being a fag.
    My usual rule of thumb is: the more a conservative talks about Bill Clinton’s penis, the more he dreams about touching it himself.
    There are so many closet gay right wingers it would make your head spin. They hate Clinton for the same reason they hated JFK: They want him.

  20. LD on

    Jim: I think you are dead wrong about the American people not being bright enough to see what Bush has done. They see plenty. I personally have talked to many, many people who usually do not vote but want to vote this year because of their disgust for Bush. The problem is their follow-thru. The problem is that some of them are not motivated enough to get out to the polls to vote. That is why I have been suggesting absentee ballots for anyone I fear will not be motivated enough to get to the polls on Nov. 2. Anyone can vote absentee ballot in Ohio and many Ohioans do not realize that. You have to put down a reason but they do not check and they do not care what your reason is. I was told this directly by my local Board of Elections. If you arrange for someone to receive an absentee ballot, then you can check up on them and make sure they send it in. I truly believe Ohio will not be in the Bush column this year.

  21. Jim on

    FACT: The facts don’t matter. If they did, Bush would be at about 10% in the polls.
    FACT: The American people, as a whole, are not that bright. They’re not persuaded by facts. They are persuaded by image manipulation, which the Bushies are geniuses at.

  22. standa on

    Reality Check….forget the polls and proceed to Nov 2.
    FACT: Gore/Leiberman almost beat Bush/Cheney in 2000 winning the popular vote by 583,000. It came down to Florida…we know the story.
    FACT: Bush has been misleading the public, distorting fact, contriving false realities, and making excuses on virtually every major issue.
    FACT: Bush’s performance on the economy, jobs, healthcare, education, the environment, Iraq and more has been POOR to ABYSMAL.
    I find it hard to believe that more Americans cannot see that George W. Bush is a FAILURE, has NOT earned our TRUST, and should be FIRED.
    How can Kerry/Edwards lose since they have a much better plan for America and Americans ?

  23. Smooth Jazz on

    With all due respect, you fail to point out that while it is true that GWB’s support has softened among swing voters according to Annenberg, it may reflect a number of the prior undecideds coalescing around the President – Thereby making those swinge voerts still skeptical about GWB a larger portion of the remaining sample.
    I’ve read your anlaysis of the various polls over the past few days, and cannnot help but notice that while you have highlighted Kerry’s lead to traditonal Dem states such as MN and MI, I see nothing from you regarding the following results:
    FLA – (SUSA) GWB 51; Kerry 45
    PA – (Wash Post/ABC) GWB 49, Kerry 46
    NJ – (SUSA) GWB 49, Kerry 45
    NY – (Quinnipiac) Kerry 47, GWB 41
    IL – (SUSA) Kerry 49, GWB 45
    OH – (SV) GWB 52, Kerry 40
    WIS – (USAToday/Gallop) GWB 52, Kerry 44
    MN – (USAToday/Gallop) GWB 44, Kerry 44
    NV – (SUSA) GWB 51, Kerry 47
    Please note that Kerry was up in NY by 26 points a few weeks ago, and was ahead in IL, MN, and NJ, by margins ranging from 10 to 25 points in various polls prior to the RNC. If Kerry has to fight for NJ, NY, MN and IL, he is in big trouble IMO

  24. Frenchfries on

    “The Dems will lose NJ because they got rolled by a fag (in a nice role reversal).”
    Know what, BJ? We don’t mind your politics. But why don’t you just keep that sort of posts over at freerepublic. There are some decent places left on the web, you know.

  25. Pollmaster on

    2 New Polls out
    Democracy Corps Bush 49, Kerry 48
    Harris Interactive Kerry 48, Bush 47
    I think it’s pretty clear it’s a tossup and whatever bounce Bush got has dissapated.

  26. BJ Clinton on

    The Dems will lose NJ because they got rolled by a fag (in a nice role reversal). Their failure to boot McGreevey on principle, preferring to acquiese to his bookmarker protection of the seat for the party has disillusioned the moderates. Lot of Catholics in Jersey.
    Dan Rather has hurt Kerry in the same way.
    I guess it’s the law of unintended consequences at work. Or maybe just bad Karma.
    Next time, do the right thing and voter support will follow.
    My love to H-town
    4 More Years!

  27. Delilah on

    Nah… Brian let the freepers froth.
    Even if the polls are correct (and we’ve heard conflicting evidence about SUSA polls), those numbers will not hold. They will normalize very shortly.
    That said, I have questions about all the polls myself… so many seem counter-intuitive.

  28. cloudy on

    I had the same question as “accomodatingly” plus others. The category of “persuadables” is extremely slippery methodologically and they did not make clear precisely how those voters were culled out from the general pool. I would assume that in a responsible survey they would have determined a solid bloc of ‘certain’ Bush voters and
    ‘certain’ or committed Kerry voters and then checked to see how that had changed, then checked overall leanings and then compared an apples to apples study of the “persuadables”. There’s no way of determining exactly what they did from their website. Please explain.
    (I was always weak in methodology in my Sociology work)

  29. Brian on

    As soon as humanly possible, could you analyze the new SUSA poll results from NJ and IL?
    I have no doubt that Kerry is going to win both states unless Bush wins in an epic lanslide, but it would be nice to hear some expert analyses on the polls. Perhaps some of the douchebags at freerepublic.com could read it and come back down to earth.

  30. accommodatingly on

    I’d like to believe you. One problem with this argument: are the “persuadables” the same individual respondents in both samples, or are they different sets of undecided voters (as seems more likely)? If the latter, the survey certainly shows that we can still win, but it’s not necessarily good news: if undecideds predisposed to Bush in August became committed Bush voters after the RNC, while soft Kerry voters became undecideds, then Kerry’s ratings among “persuadable” voters went up between August and September, but only because he lost ground.


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