A Zogby poll conducted August 30-September 2 showed George W. Bush leading John Kerry among likely voters by 2%. The poll also found, however, that, by 48% to 46%, the respondents wanted “someone new” rather then agreeing that Bush “deserves to be reelected”
TDS Strategy Memos
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By Ed Kilgore
June 2: Rise of Religious “Nones” a Mixed Blessing for Democrats
Since I’m always standing at the intersection of politics and religion, I’m always interested in fresh data on the subject, and wrote some up at New York:
One of the big predictions in American politics lately, of infinite comfort to embattled progressives, is that the increasing number of religiously non-affiliated Americans, particularly among younger generations, will spur a steady leftward drift. Perhaps that will mean, we are told, that Democrats will be able to build their elusive permanent majority on the grounds of abandoned houses of worship. Or perhaps, some hope, the religious roots of today’s Republican extremism will begin to wither away, allowing American conservatives to resemble their less intemperate distant cousins in other advanced democracies, ending the culture wars.
Both propositions may be true. But it’s a mistake to treat so-called nones as an undifferentiated secularist mass, as Eastern Illinois University political scientist Ryan Burge explains with some fresh data. He notes that “in 2022, 6% of folks were atheists, 6% were agnostics, and another 23% were nothing in particular.” This large bloc of “nothing in particular” voters may lean left, all other things being equal, but they tend to be as uninterested in politics as in religion, making them a less than ideal party constituency. He explains:
“To put this in context, in 2020 there were nearly as many nothing in particulars who said that they voted for Trump as there were atheists who said that they voted for Biden.
“While atheists are the most politically active group in the United States in terms of things like donating money and working for a campaign, the nothing in particulars are on another planet entirely.
“They were half as likely to donate money to a candidate compared to atheists. They were half as likely to put up a political sign. They were less than half as likely to contact a public official.
“This all points to the same conclusion: they don’t vote in high numbers. So, while there may be a whole bunch of nothing in particulars, that may not translate to electoral victories.”
As Burge mentioned, however, there is a “none” constituency that leans much more strongly left and is very engaged politically — indeed, significantly more engaged than the white evangelicals we’re always hearing about. That would be atheists. In a separate piece, he gets into the numbers:
“The group that is most likely to contact a public official? Atheists.
“The group that puts up political signs at the highest rates? Atheists.
“HALF of atheists report giving to a candidate or campaign in the 2020 presidential election cycle.
“The average atheist is about 65% more politically engaged than the average American.”
And as Thomas Edsall points out in a broader New York Times column on demographic voting patterns, atheists really are a solid Democratic constituency, supporting Biden over Trump in 2020 by an incredible 87 to 9 percent margin. It’s worth noting that the less adamant siblings of the emphatically godless, agnostics, also went for Biden by an 80 to 17 percent margin and are more engaged than “nothing in particulars” as well.
So should Democrats target and identify with atheists? It’s risky. Despite the trends, there are still three times as many white evangelicals as atheists in the voting population. And there are a lot more religious folk of different varieties, some of whom have robust Democratic voting minorities or even majorities who probably wouldn’t be too happy with their party showing disdain for religion entirely. There’s also a hunt-where-the-ducks-fly factor: If atheists and agnostics already participate in politics and lean strongly toward Democrats, how much attention do they really need? There’s a reason that politicians, whatever their actual religious beliefs or practices, overwhelmingly report some religious identity. Congress lost its one professed atheist when California representative Pete Stark lost a Democratic primary in 2012; the only professed agnostic in Congress is Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, whose political future isn’t looking great.
It’s a complicated picture. Conservative columnist Ross Douthat argues that American liberalism’s increasing identification with secularism is keeping a lot of conservative Christians from politically expressing their reservations about Donald Trump. And religious people beyond the ranks of conservative faith communities may feel cross-pressured if Democratic politicians begin to reflect the liberal intelligentsia’s general assumption that religion is little more than a reactionary habit rooted in superstition and doomed to eventual extinction.
Perhaps it makes more sense for Democratic atheists and agnostics to spend time educating and mobilizing the “nothing in particular” Americans who already outnumber white evangelicals and ought to be concerned about how they’ll be treated if a Christian-nationalist Gilead arises. Only then can “nones” become the salvation for the Democratic Party.
People, I of all people was the one screaming on the blogs and yellling at the Kerry camp to get into the negative attack mode or be wiped out. Its work…at least for now. Kerry is showing fire, now lets hope that Shrum’s ass is gone before he screws things up in October. You simply have to fight fire (or slime) with fire. Now, things would be much better for me if I knew Carville was on board and leading us on to victory. I still think we need to all call and email the kerry people and DNC, demanding Carville in position.
Now that said, I actually am much more optimistic than most. Let’s say Time is right, 52% would vote for Bush, after all the lovefest and positive Bush week… and he is the president… he can only muster a little over 50%??? That’s pathetic. I was expecting after all the Swift boat smears and kerry bashing at the convention, Bush would be at least at 55-57%
If you look at some of the other data in the Time poll, only 48% approve of Bush and the economy. In other words this is still very winnable if…….and this is a big if..Kerry continues to have balls and not play nice and loovy doovy like this past month and Half. Americans want strong leaders, Kerry must shove the lies, smears and record down Bush’s throat and never let up until after the inauguration.
I still believe we need a 527 to start the smear ad campaigns regarding Bush (awol, cocaine, drunk driving, etc.) Where can I send my $$$?? And no, Moveon is not it –they are also in the nice play it safe commercial mode. I want smears!!!
I’m with those who want a fierce, aggressive, no holds barred campaign against Bush and Cheney. I’m loaded for bear! And for those who looked at the (outlier) Time poll and are ready to slit their wrists…could you vote absentee first?
Bush and Cheney’s speeches reflect the utter detachment from reality that have characterized this Administration.
With the middle class squeezed, his Administration has been able to think of nothing more creative or effective to do than shovel money to the wealthiest people in the country instead, of say, doing something about the health insurance mess we’re in, fulfilling his funding promise for the education bill he now brags about, doing a better job of reducing the vulnerability of our harbors and chemical plants to terrorist attack, or helping out states so they would not have to slash services or raise taxes as much. Did anyone else notice the notable omission of his prescription drug sellout bill? Guess that one wasn’t considered such a big hit after all, even by this group.
Concentrations of wealth at the top were increasing over the past two decades before Bush came in. So what does he do but exacerbate the trend with huge giveaways to the wealthiest Americans? Do we want a democracy and opportunity for all Americans, or more government of, by, and for the fortunate few? If he wanted to help fight the recession with tax cuts he would have directed the money to the middle class, which spends it faster, and certainly needs it more.
Let’s talk about who is unfit to be Commander in Chief. We are losing ground in the war on terror, not winning. Check out the facts cited by NBC in Josh Marshall’s post today. In his speech statement on this our President is as blind to the most important facts as he was when he took us to war in Iraq. How can we trust someone with that power who is so blind to reality? With North Korea already a nuclear power and Iran well on its way to becoming one on Bush’s watch, which side has demonstrated for all to see that it is unfit to run US foreign policy in these dangerous times? They’ve been wrong so often in how they have projected the results of their policies it’s amazing they can raise the question of who’s fit to be Commander in Chief with a straight face. As for “the President of 9/11”, any President would have gone to war with the Taliban after 9/11; Kerry would, however, have vanquished al qaeda’s Afghanistan forces instead of letting them regroup and multiply like this incompetent crowd has done.
The Washington Post seemed ok with the speech in their lead editorial today. They seem to have determined that this election will be decided on national security issues. I had thought the voters make these determinations. Silly me. But we know how tough-minded and prescient the Washington Post editorial writers have proven to be on issue after issue of pressing importance over the past few years.
If it were time for them to make their endorsement today they’d endorse Bush. That comes through loud and clear to me. Unbelievable how far the quality of that newspaper’s editorial judgments have fallen. They should have incinerated him over the slew of vacuous domestic policy talking points he tossed out last night at the same time as he called for making his tax cuts permanent.
Kerry wants to spend some money but he will raise some instead of pawning everything off on those to come. Some quaint notion of generational responsibility. The old Washington Post would have been able to tell the difference and call Bush’s proposed “domestic agenda” for the deficit-exploding fraud that it is. His domestic agenda is neither serious nor responsible. But, hey, this election is going to be decided on national security issues. The Washington Post editors have told us so.
Yes, I am ready for this campaign to begin.
Prof Wang raises an excellent point..that’s what Pollkatz attempts as well.
The meta analysis is only as good as the state polls it sums. A good number of these are either Zogby interactive internet or Robo Polls like Rasmussen or Survey USA…also a number are Strategic Vision a Republican outfit
Actually, I think the Zogby poll is probably more worrying than the Time poll. An apples to apples comparison:
August 14 – Kerry +7
Sept 2 – Bush +2
That’s a nine point turnaround in less than three weeks.
It was a BEAUTIFUL night in Springfield,Ohio last night waiting over two hours with thousands of people for a speech from Kerry and Edwards at Midnight,no less.It was worth the wait.Kerry came out swinging-finally.It’s time to get mad and get aggressive.When,oh when, are we going to finally understand that “good guys finish last”?We need to make sure that we don’t repeat the same mistakes as in 2000.Let’s keep talking about the issues and state the facts immediately after we’ve been misrepresented or flat out lied against and show the American people that they can trust us with safety/security because we’re just as tough as the other guy and WAY more intelligent and discerning.These debates are not going to get here soon enough.Side by side,issue to issue,intellect to…whatever-George won’t have a prayer!
Michael Moore speaks
I’m not a polling expert but I do know something about statistics and probabity theory.
It’s my understanding that Electoral College Meta-Analysis using probability theory is a better indicator than biased polls.
Perhaps Ruy can comment.
From Prof. Sam Wang at Princeton University
These calculations are based on state polls from RealClearPolitics and other sources, and are meant to be an objective statistical analysis. The three most recent polls for each state are averaged and the standard error of the mean is used to calculate the probability of every combination of possible state results.
Results for Friday, September 3, 2004
Today’s median (expected) outcome:
Kerry 274 EV, Bush 264 EV
Kerry 95% confidence band: 243-306 EV
Kerry Electoral College win likelihood: 61%
So even after the high water mark of the RNC Kerry/Edwards are looking pretty damn good.
The potential effects of bias or opinion shift are as follows. Probabilities greater than 99.99% are given as 100%.
3 points to Kerry: Kerry 342 EV (95% confidence 300-375 EV), win 99.99%.
2 points to Kerry: Kerry 317 EV (95% confidence 280-357 EV), win 99.4%.
1 point to Kerry: Kerry 294 EV (95% confidence 262-332 EV), win 92%.
1 point to Bush: Kerry 254 EV (95% confidence 231-284 EV), win 17%.
2 points to Bush: Kerry 236 EV (95% confidence 216-265 EV), win 1%.
3 points to Bush: Kerry 223 EV (95% confidence 199-248 EV), win 0.02%.
It would be a better idea for Kerry blogs and supporters to start dissecting the Bush speech and highlighting its failures and shortcomings. This would help immensely to reduce the convention bounce at a more rapid rate and get Kerry back into the lead.
Every Kerry blog that I have travelled to is more or lest lamenting the Bush bounce and are starting to castigate the Kerry program. Too much time is spent rehashing the poll stats, even tho its known that no one seems to know how the numbers are derived and if they really serve any useful purpose. LVs and RVs, who knows what will be the net results from either group? No One. So lets support kerry with things that we are sure of.
If the blogs can force the media to start to critique Bush’s speech then it might do Kerry a wealth of good. Can we try this as a way to help?
I think this 300 billion! yes 300 billion! dollars this war is costing would be of some concern to the electorate. Maybe this is not being driven home hard enough! Imagine what that money could do for the country if we spent it here at home!………..
I don’t buy the argument that this is just the usual convention bounce. After all a few weeks ago everyone was busy explaining why Kerry didn’t get the usual bounce after the Dem convention and why it didn’t really matter.
Still I hadn’t realized that the Zogby poll was over the same period; I thought that the Time poll was the only one with polling on September 2. It may well be that Time is an outlier. I guess we have to wait and see.
I still think that Kerry was way too lethargic in responding to the Swift Boat attacks and that it has cost him much of what he gained during the convention.
However OTOH Bush may also be vulnerable on the sheer incoherence of his domestic agenda. He can’t simultaneously cut the deficit, make his tax cuts permanent and also increase spending on this and that worthy initiative. He can’t simultaneously simplify the tax code and create new tax incentives for this and that worthy activity. If Kerry hammers at these contradictions it could damage Bush’s credibility.
Ya dance with what brung Bush down to paraphrase Darrell Royal…
Yes the Time poll is the most volatile of all of them for some reason….and if ARG and Zogby are correct Bush is in trouble still, this campaign has until last night been properly focused
They have to hit hard
And they have to do what Ruy has been urging now for months…
Attack on Irak
Incumbents have enjoyed an average bounce in the vote margin of 8 points.
Incumbents who went on to win reelection had an average lead of 27 points after their convention.
Indeed, the average elected incumbent — winners and losers — had a lead of 16 points after their conventions
per Mark Mellman
geeeeeeze.. I forgot to put that darn panic button under lock and key… now everybody seems to be pushing it again.. Will you guys please take your hands off that button and give it back here…
Kerry needs your support folks… not your condemnation… at least not at this time… after he wins…… please!!!!!
Who answers their phone for these polls anyway? I rarely answer my home phone — I check to see who is calling from the answering machine and pick it up if I know them. I get a lot of no message calls.
I just really wonder how representative phone polls are these days. More people use cell phones and computers for communication. Are these people being polled at all?
What? No 15 point bounce? 😉
The pollls you are seeing reflect the high water mark of Bush after after the RNC.
Kerry has already beaten Bush on all these REAL issues i.e. economy, jobs, healthcare, environment, failed foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc.
Net Net: George W. Bush is a “FAILURE”….No ands, ifs or buts.
The ONLY thing Bush and GOP have to SELL is FEAR !!!
But Kerry is already hitting back on this accusing Republicans of hiding President Bush’s “record of failure” behind insults and their negative campaign of fear ( or terror )
Chill out and allow Kerry/Edwards to pummel the daylights out of Bush/Cheney on the economy, jobs, healthcare, environment, failed foreign policy and debate on the issues of fear ( or terror )
That’s it in a nutshell.
Kerry/Edwards are going to win !
What is Time the Jesus Christ of all polls? come on! none of the others show that kind of a bounce. Let’s wait a couple of weeks. It pissis me off that Bush can shit all over the place and he gets a pass. kerry lets a little fart and the News media is all over it for days. Another thing, Kerry was in Ohio today trying to tell those people about how poor the job numbers are. I don’t think many of those right wing evangilists care. Jesus is comming back and taking them up in the air; they don’t need a job…
The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of October 26, 2000 putting Bush up 13 over Gore was something for Democrats to panic over. I could care less about ANY poll immediately after the RNC, where a bounce of some level would be anticipated. Even a few days into November 2000, there were still polls with Bush up 5-9. The full final-three-month series of major polls in 2000 is shown at:
By the way, does anyone have information on the internals of this new TIME poll (particularly the proportions of self-identified Democrats and Republicans in the sample)?
My guess is Time has some method where they push undecideds to choose a candidate — or they add in “leaners”. I’d sure like to see the internals there.
Remember, the Time poll after the DNC showed Kerry with a 9% lead, and was the clear outlier.
In addition to Zogby, ARG and the Economist polls were done almost the exact same time. Both of them show a tie — 47-47 for ARG, and 45-45 for Economist.
11 point lead, 9 point bounce – Time
THAT is something to worry about.
Bush has lower approval ratings now than he did the day he took office in January 2001. And that was after the ugly recount battle and an election where he got 1/2 million fewer votes than Gore. What in the world would make you think he can win this, a Time/CNN poll taken right after their biggest week of free publicity? Get serious people. But if some of you want to go slit your wrist today, go right ahead.
Bush ain’t up no 11%. For Heaven’s sake! All that poll would show is that (unless he has dramatically mobilized new voters) Bush picked up a percent or two baby-bounce in support and somehow pushed five or six percent back into play, which Kerry could easily regain most of anyway since they were previously for him in some soft, numb-nutted independent way. The Swift Boat Vets meme is past its high-water mark with 60 days left. Plenty of time for the press to turn the tide at their usually slow and inept pace. The fact is, they’ll just get bored of the SBVs and decide to cover the other guys for something to do. Because there ain’t no way they’re gonna cover something as boring as healthcare or economic policy between now and the election. They’ll die before they work that hard and risk creating any controversy. Bush screwed up with the SBVs. Mark my words. He put a sexy issue in play where the press had already given up trying to sort things out. Now it’s the only issue that will sell papers and allow the press to be above the fray. Time magazine! Read a real publication.
Not worth panicking yet. The Rasmussen Report poll has Bush ahead 49-45…and the Zogby poll with Bush ahead two points. I find it hard to believe there are that many undecideds out there that Bush could get enough of a bounce to get an 11 point lead.
That said, Kerry has run an abysmal campaign so far. From what I heard from him last night and today it sounds like he is finally going on the attack. I hope it isn’t too late.
“Likely voters” poll. Didn’t pick that up in the first blush of stunned surprise.
Would be interesting to see what the Registered voter totals were.
Might be a bit closer.
But still, kerry’s got a second race in his career where he was behind in September.
Remember Weld? Golden Boy of the Republican Party?
How about TIME:
Kerry is toast
Er, “not because of one solitary poll” is what I meant.
OK, people, no wigging out, alright? It’s one poll. Deep breath–one poll, on its own, rarely tells you anything, as DR has frequently counseled us. You have to look at several polls, and follow trends within them, in order to have a good idea of what’s going on. And again with the LV issue–Time’s poll is likely voters, which DR just finished counseling us to take with a grain of salt.
So, once again, chill out. None of the other polls have shown anything remotely like this. Now, if every poll out there is showing results just like this within a week or two, well, then, maybe some wigging will be in order. But not now, not because of one solitary people. Take it easy and wait for more numbers to develop.
I was just about to link to the Time poll. I think Kerry is in serious trouble and this poll shows it beyond all doubt. I respect Mr Texeira but I think his recent analyses have been way too optimistic.
A lot of it has to with the incredibly soft coverage of the convention in the TV shows. The pundits were all over the Dems for their “Bush hatred” a few months back but generally gave the negative attacks on Kerry a pass. As far as I could tell there was little attempt to examine the truthfulness of the charges made against Kerry or to examine the feasibility of Bush’s domestic proposals given the massive deficits. The print media has done a better job but TV counts for much more with voters.
A lot of it is Kerry’s fault too though. He made his Vietnam service the heart of his convention speech and then allowed it to be ripped apart by the Swift Boat vets without a rapid response. For months we have been hearing how he won’t repeat the mistakes of Dukakis but that’s exactly what he has done.
Of course he still has time to recover but he needs to toughen up his campaign. This poll should be the wake-up call he needs.
Ruy you got to put up the Time poll it has Bush up 11 and although I don’t like it -it’s a poll we have to deal with. If this is confimed by others it wiil Show the Nazi tactics of the Bush campaign have worked—destroy and attack for a month and then have the shmuck give a speach and seem above it all due to his personal likeabilty—Kerry ceded a month to these slimeballs when you can’t give them a day.
What about the Time poll? ouch??