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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

How Much Did Kerry Gain from the Debates?

I know I keep flogging these debate data….but I just can’t help myself! Democracy Corps did pre-post debate surveys for each debate, which have all been released, including the last one. But, as Paul Waldman points out at the Gadflyer:

…instead of looking at the differences from Wednesday to Thursday, we should look at how far the candidates have come since before all the debates began.

The DCorps data allow us to do that–compare pre-first debate to post-third debate–and here’s what the data say, according to Waldman:

…people’s opinions of Bush after the debates are just where they were before the debates, while Kerry has improved dramatically on every measure. Bush’s average improvement was one-half of a percentage point, while Kerry’s average improvement was 9.5%.

Waldman goes on to give the changes for Kerry on each individual candidate attribute, as well as the changes for Bush. It’s quite eye-opening. See the link above for all the data. (Note: I am told that DCorps will be releasing charts summarizing these changes and others over the course of the debates very shortly. I will provide a link to these charts when they are posted.)

5 comments on “How Much Did Kerry Gain from the Debates?

  1. Wally Fish on

    All four polls on 2.004 show a trend, unfortunately, of Kerry peaking, and now the momentum shifting to Bush. I just don’t see how you are getting a “Kerry won” out of the third debate. It lookslike after the second debate Bush bottomed out and then it’s turned and now Bush has the upward momentum. I’m not happy about it but the figures are there. in the Zogby poll, but parallel in the others.

  2. scout on

    Interesting, then, that the blaring headline on CNN this morning is that Bush has a five point lead, which seems to come from the Zogby/Reuters poll- and actually says the exact opposite of DCorps. Zogby is claiming that Kerry is stuck at 44% while Bush is the one persuading the undecideds.

  3. Correy on

    The only reason I watched these debates was to see whether independents and those on the left of center would be energized by Kerry. To me, understandably biased, it looks like Kerry has done well in clarifying his message, and stood up well to a lot of bashing by the broken-record we have as president.
    I’d also like to plug the volunteer page of Kerry’s website, http://calls.johnkerry.com, which lists phone numbers of like-minded folks in swing states. They’re encouraging people to call them and tell them about volunteer opportunities in their areas.

  4. Oberon on

    My pet theory — Kerry won the pre-debate “expectations game” because of the GOP’s massive, months-long negative campaign against him. Even though I was planning to for Kerry, I had never seen him in action before. And I was surprised by how strong, calm, and “presidential” he looked. I had not expected to be impressed, and that’s because the Republicans did such an effective job of attacking him before the debates.
    There were probably millions of people watching the debates who had never seen Kerry for an extended period of time — all we knew were soundbites, media impressions, and Republican attacks.

  5. Marcus Lindroos on

    I think the next week will be The Moment of Truth.
    *If* Kerry takes the lead, I think even the ‘Wingers will start to worry a lot about this election. On the other hand, I would be perplexed and disappointed if “Shrub” actually gains.
    The media reaction to the third debate was interesting. THE WEEKLY STANDARD, NATIONAL REVIEW etc. claim “Shrub” won hands down whereas the rest (including all the opinion polls) felt Kerry was better. I suspect both assessments are honest, since they indicate “Shrub” is great at firing up his base but Democrats and a majority of independents favor Kerry.


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