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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Just How Bad Is That CBS News/New York Times Poll for Bush?

Very bad. There’s a reason why Matthew Dowd pledged his immortal soul to Gallup when confronted with the results of this survey.
And it’s not the horse race result of the survey though that was pretty poor for Bush (45-45 in the 2-way RV matchup). It’s the other results and the poll’s internals that are so gruesome for the Bush-Cheney campaign.
Here are some of the key findings:
1. Kerry leads by 7 among independents.
2. Bush’s approval rating is only 44 percent among RVs, but a truly abysmal 34 percent approval/50 percent diapproval among independents.
3. Democrats are up by 6 in the generic house content (10 points among independents).
4. Right direction/wrong track is 39/57 and a stunning 34/61 among independents.
5. Bush’s approval ratings on Iraq, the economy and foreign policy are, respectively, 42, 42 and 41 (35, 34 and 33 among independents).
6. More voters think the economy is getting worse (34 percent) than think it is getting better (24 percent).
7. Among independents, the Democrats’ favorable/unfavorable rating is 54/35, while Republicans’ rating is 42/49.
8. More than four times as many voters believe Bush administration policies have increased the cost of prescription drugs (47 percent) than believe their policies have decreased the cost (11 percent).
9. By 60 percent to 8 percent, voters believe Bush administration policies have mostly benefitted the rich, rather than the middle class.
10. An amazing 81 percent of independents believe that Bush administration policies have either decreased the number of jobs in the country (55 percent) or had no effect (26 percent).
11. Perhaps even more amazing, 72 percent of independents believe that Bush administration policies have either increased their taxes (27 percent) or had no effect (55 percent).
12. About three-quarters of independents (74 percent) believe the Bush administration did a poor job of thinking through what would happen as a result of the Iraq war.
13. Independent voters are evenly split, 46-46 on whether Kerry has the same priorities for the country as they do, but, by 60-24, they believe Bush does not have the same priorities.
14. Independent voters believe, by 8 points (50-42) that Kerry understands the needs and problems of people like themselves but, by 59-37, they believe Bush does not understand these needs and problems.
15. Independents believe, by 65-21, that Kerry is more interested in protecting the interests of ordinary Americans than in protecting the interests of large corporations; by 69-22, they believe Bush sides with large corporations rather than ordinary Americans.
16. Among independents, just 30 percent believe Bush will make sure Social Security benefits are there for them, but 58 percent believe Kerry will make sure those benefits are there.
17. Also among independents: 65 percent believe the Iraq war is only a minor part (12 percent) or not a part at all (53 percent) of the war on terrorism; 63 percent believe efforts to bring stability and order to Iraq are going badly; and 70 percent believe that Iraq was a threat that could have been contained without immediate military action or was not a threat at all.
18. Finally, 67 percent of voters believe their family is not better off today than four years ago and 75 percent believe the number of jobs in their community has not increased in the last four years.
No wonder Dowd was moved to make his touching declaration of faith in the Gallup Organization. If these CBS/NYT data are on the money, his man’s in big, big trouble.
Oh, and the party ID distribution in this poll? A 3 point Democratic advantage among RVs, very close to the Democratic advantage in the 2000 exit poll.
But I guess that’s another reason why Dowd fled as fast as he could into the arms of Gallup, when confronted with this particular poll.

12 comments on “Just How Bad Is That CBS News/New York Times Poll for Bush?

  1. euzoius on

    randy—I was not joking, but I could certainly be insufficiently informed. It’s hard for me to believe with the almost inconceivable amount of media resources being devoted to polling in this election (this site routinely tracks about a dozen separate national polls), that both campaigns are not happy to receive, use and rely at least in part on the results. Of course I assume campaigns do some of their own polling, but is it really as extensive as the Zogby network, and this NYT/CBS effort? If the campaigns themselves run even more elaborate, sophisticated polling operations, how exactly did the Glorious Leader get caught with his pants down at the close of the 2000 election, apparently thinking he had a substantial lead? I’d love to hear more about the campaigns own polling efforts (are they as extensive as the one at issue here?) and certainly defer to those with information on the subject. (I do try to be a member of the reality based community!)

  2. Randy on

    “Would the Republicans get this data absent all of these fabulous polls?”
    You’re joking, right? You think the campaigns rely on the NY Times for their polling data? Both campaigns are spending huge sums of money to conduct their own polling.

  3. GlennK on

    Polls polls polls….. In 2000 they all had Bu$h up by 5 or more at the end and he LOST! This time around he’s only winning on a few like Gallup which is joke anymore. What’s more important is the state by state and right now Fla. and Ohio are a tossup with 1 poll saying Bu$h and another Kerry . In the end I’ll put my $$ on Kerry winning 1 of those 2 and with that the Presidency.

  4. Airblair on

    So I agree that this doesn’t look good for the incumbent. But here’s what I don’t understand: We’re hoping that Independents break for the challenger, and it looks like they will, by and large. How much can we expect them to when Kerry leads among them only by seven points? And can we expect them to break for us substantially when the internals show the favorable/unfavorable opinions of JFK are essentially equal (38-37, according to the PDF file linked in the post)? And if so many people have an unfavorable opinion or are undecided about JFK (59%), do we have to change campaign strategy toot suite?

  5. Leslie on

    Decal, I could not agree with you more. While I wouldn’t necessarily want to see Kerry ease up on Bush completely in the next couple of weeks, I do think that a well-timed, positive, uplifting message delivered at the tail end of the campaign could provide that final impetus to push the undecided voters our way.
    From what I’ve read about the mindset of the undecideds, it’s clear that they are fed up with both candidates. They hate the way the country is headed, they know Bush is a disaster, but they desperately need something positive to latch onto to convince themselves that a Kerry presidency won’t just be “more of the same.” If Kerry can provide even a tiny little glimmer of hope in the face of all this negativity, he can seal the deal.

  6. euzoius on

    All of this data on the views of independents is heartening. Unfortunately, the Bush team now has possession of this valuable information and will work night and day to tailor its spin to alter these views. They have plenty of money and time to do this. Would the Republicans get this data absent all of these fabulous polls?

  7. Mimiru on

    I’d feel much better if it was an even or slightly GOP weighted because then Bush would be even MORE trouble, but hey, turnout people!
    According to several papers in all the battleground states but Florida, Dems are winning the battle of registering voters.

  8. Decal on

    If this data is reliable, then is it possible Kerry is pursuing the wrong strategy these last 2 weeks? If the independents have already decided against re-electing Bush, then Kerry no longer needs to convince them Bush is a failure. Kerry just needs to get them to get out and vote. Kerry’s been raising the spectre of a draft and Bush’s plans to privatize Social Security, and not talking so much about his own plans for the future (at least that’s what we see on the news). We know the GOP wants to suppress turnout and I believe it’s generally thought a negative campaign tends to suppress overall turnout though it can help motivate the base. Should Kerry be “going positive” instead in these last days of the campaign?

  9. Charlie Robb on

    I’m a faithful reader of your blog, find your arguments pretty persuasive and am not mathmatically illiterate. So here’s what puzzles me: you review the internals of these polls and things look TERRIBLE for Bush (which makes me glad; he deserves it). But then the horse race numbers are pretty much a dead heat. How can that be? I can think of a bunch of reasons, but none that seems paticularly powerful. I’m sure there’s an answer, I just don’t get it. Can you write a quick comment clueing me in?

  10. Haggai on

    Great news indeed from this poll. But what IS up with the Washington Post tracking poll? Their LV numbers were tracking higher than their RVs for a few days, so I figured it was just a split between those. RVs were 48-47 Bush for a few days after 48-47 Kerry for a couple of days before that, so no big swing there, or much difference from several other polls out there. But, today, suddenly it’s 50-45 Bush among RVs. Huh?
    I don’t mean to be gloomy, but it’s just weird. But man, if the internals on this CBS/NYT poll are even close to being on the mark, Bush is toast. DR is indisputably accurate on that point.


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