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Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Stanley Greenberg Analyzes Early Debate Data

Leading Democratic pollster and public opinion analyst Stanley Greenberg, Co-founder of Democracy Corps, has made available the following analysis of the early data from last night’s debate.

The only national representative panel survey shows Edwards with a slight edge in the vice-presidential debate among key swing groups in the electorate, though overall Cheney had a slight edge of 40 to 37 percent on who won the debate. Where it matters, Edwards had the edge.
o Among independents, Edwards by 37 to 34 percent.
o Among undecided voters (with only 60 cases), Edwards won by 43 to 25 percent.
o Among battleground states, Edwards had 40 to 38 percent advantage.
That is probably why the presidential race remained tied before and after the debate, though Kerry’s vote rose from 47 to 49 percent.
The debate produced a yawning gender gap, with Cheney winning by 16 points among men (47 to 31 percent) and Edwards winning women by 9 points (43 to 34 percent) — a 25-point gender gap.
Fully 1,000 respondents watched the debate, and completed pre- and post-surveys. Data was collected by Knowledge Networks, a survey research firm that maintains the only nationally representative web-based survey platform.
The other national survey conducted tonight by ABC News had Cheney with an 8-point advantage, but note that the survey gave the Republicans a 7-point advantage in party identification. (They did not report the presidential vote.) That is consistent with a stable race and a likely tie in the debate.
Stan Greenberg

34 comments on “Stanley Greenberg Analyzes Early Debate Data

  1. tony on

    It’s well worth remembering the Colorado initiative. I’m against it, but it is quite possible it will help Kerry. Some chance it could help Bush, though! I’ve not given up on Colorado.
    The Zogby polls are certainly encouraging, if for no other reason that they, too, are showing movement towards Kerry. Pretty much every poll seems to be picking up that trend.
    Agreed on your, um, crunching of EV possibilities.
    If Kerry gets Ohio *and* Florida, even if he gets no other Bush states, then if he gets all the Gore states, that’s 307. Bush would have to pick off 38 EV’s for a tie. That *could* happen. Wisconsin (10 EV), Minnesota (10 EV), Iowa (7 EV), Michigan (17 EV), PA (21 EV), Maine (4 EV), and NM (5 EV) all have me watching carefully. I’ve a little concern about Washington, Oregon, and New Jersey, but not much. The 7 Gore states I listed above have 74 EV’s, so there are a bunch of combinations that Bush could pick off to compensate for Florida and Ohio. I just don’t think he’d be able to. Pennsylvania is particularly key. If Kerry holds that and gets NH to boot, then Bush needs to get 42 EV’s from a list of states that total 53. Kerry would only need 12 of them.
    I’m more optimistic about Ohio than Florida, though. In Ohio, ARG has it at a tie, Zogby has it as a tie, SUSA has Kerry up by 1, and Rasmussen has Kerry down by 3. Those are all the state polls with dates in October at http://www.race2004.net.
    In contrast, in Florida, a GOP poll has Bush up 5. A Quinnipiac poll has Bush up 7. Mason-Dixon has Bush up 4. Rasmussen has Bush up 4, SUSA 5, Insider Advantage 2. The good news is that ARG has Kerry up 2, as does a Dem poll, and Zogby has it tied. The Quinnipiac poll only has Bush up by 4 in the RV’s, but was held after the debate, as best I can tell. Florida is winnable, but Ohio seems more so from these numbers. I yield to others who know the politics and polling of it better.
    Other plausible Kerry targets…Missouri has 10 EV’s. The SUSA poll shows Bush up only 2% and doesn’t seem to take into account the debate. A friend’s wife just went there to work on the Kerry campaign, so they’re trying. I’d pretty much written the state off before, but it seems back in play. Colorado has 9 EV. There’s no non-Zogby post-debate poll. I really want to see one of those. Arkansas has 6 EV. Ditto Colorado on polls. New Hampshire has consistently been a target. Nevada has 5 EV. Again, no post-debate, non-Zogby polls.
    As Crunch said…if Kerry can’t get Ohio or Florida, it’s tough. But he could get Missouri. Or New Hampshire, Nevada, and WV. Or New Hampshire and Arkansas. Or New Hampshire and Colorado. But any one of those scenarios requires that he not lose any Kerry states, and Wisconsin is looking like a real dogfight.
    Go Ohio Democrats!

  2. scottso on

    Tony and everyone else,
    I don’t know what are the chances, realistically, that Kerry would lose that one district in Maine and its one electoral vote, but don’t forget the other serious wild card — that ballot initiative for EV-splitting in Colorado! The last I read, polls showed that initiative ahead 47 – 35% despite a major push against it from the CO Republican establishment, including the governor. That could be a free 4 EV for Kerry!

  3. Marcus Lindroos on

    Thanks for the link, Jody. Let’s see —
    Wow! Talk about great news. Of course, November is still far away and a lot can change. But the WSJ electoral college map is still a beautiful sight. Oregon is back in the Demo fold, and New Mexico & Nevada are also blue. Kerry is now ahead in all New England states (including New Hampshire and Maine). New Jersey, Michigan, Minnesota & Wisconsin are no longer Redneck Red. Even better, Florida, Ohio & Pennsylvania have moved back into the Kerry column, although the margin is razor-thin. As for the South, “Shrub’s” lead in Arkansas and Tennessee is shrinking. It’s pretty obvious the debates have had a huge, positive impact.

    Like I said, this doesn’t mean anything…yet. But it sure cheered me up.

  4. Crunch_some_numbers on

    “Two things I notice in state polling. First, Pennsylvania seems to be moving safely into Kerry’s camp. The four most recent polls show him up by 7% (Keystone), 7% (West Chester), 5% (Zogby), and 2% (SUSA).
    Keystone had had them tied in mid-Sept. Zogby shows a couple percentage point gain for Kerry since mid-Sept. SUSA is even with an early Sept. poll. I can’t find a prior for West Chester.
    And a U. Minn poll showed Kerry up by a percent in Iowa, probably Bush’s second best shot (after Wisconsin) at taking one of the Gore states.
    If these two both go to Kerry, then he can lose Wisconsin and win by getting Ohio and either holding all the Maine votes (I saw a report he’s trailing in one district there) or New Hampshire.
    This is razor thin right now. Keep at it, folks.”
    I still can’t come up with any realisitc way that Kerry wins the election without either Ohio or Florida. If he wins 1 he’s in. It won’t matter what happens in Wisconsin’s 10 votes, although Kerry would still need Iowa & Minn., plus Penn. & Mich., which he should get if he’s competitive on election day (which we all expect).
    If Kerry lost both states he would need Wisconsin badly. Then he could still win IF he won Missouri (10 ev) or
    West Virginia (5 ev) plus (ME or NH 4ev) plus Nevada (5ev). Watch the polls in those states. That’s asking a lot though.
    But he can win outright with either OH or FL and put a shiv to Bush’s hopes right there. I bet none of you can come up with a realistic scenario that has Bush winning the White House without either Ohio or Florida or both.

  5. Cautiously Optimistic on

    AP Poll: Kerry Holds Small Lead Over Bush
    Sen. John Kerry holds a slim lead over President Bush, according to an Associated Press poll that shows the Democrat gaining ground while Bush lost support on personal qualities, the war in Iraq and national security.
    Fewer voters than a month ago believe Bush is the best man to protect the country and fight the war.
    The AP-Ipsos Public Affairs poll, completed on the eve of the second presidential debate, charted a reversal from a month ago, when the Republican incumbent had the momentum and a minuscule lead. Since then, bloodshed increased in Iraq, Kerry sharpened his attacks and Bush stumbled in their initial debate.
    Nearly three-fourths of likely voters said they had watched or listened to the first presidential debate last week, according to the poll. Only 8 percent came away with a more favorable view of Bush while 39 percent said they felt better about Kerry.
    Among 944 likely voters, the Democratic ticket of Kerry and Sen. John Edwards led Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney 50 percent to 46 percent. The Oct. 4-6 survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

  6. Joe Zainea on

    I keep seeing ME and NH as either tied between KE and BC or in the hands of BC. I have an idea for Howard Dean. He should lay off all the work he puts into DFA and instead, concentrate on winning upper New England for Kerry.
    Dean has a certain following there and if he really wants to help Kerry, and I think he does, he should put his total effort into winning those two states. They could be the margin of victory. Bush carried NH in 2000. Between those two states there are 8 electoral college votes. Go get’em, Howard !

  7. Jody on

    Hey All,
    I am with the seeming majority – the VP debate was a draw. However, the post debate discussions and factcheck paints a very different picture. Advantage Edwards. I have become very frightened of the B/C ticket and the skills of Carl Rove.
    Has anyone seen the latest Zogby Battleground State polls. They look very good for team Kerry. According to the latest Zogby report (posted 10/6) Kerry leads in 13/16 Battleground States – he is outside the margin of errot in six states, including Michigan and Pennsylvania. Bush holds leads in Missouri, Tennessee and West Virginia – but the leads are shrinking. According to Zogby none of the Bush leads are outside the margin of error.
    More detail can be found on the WSJ site
    In a flashback to the New Deal – Happy Days Are Here Again!

  8. tony on

    Two things I notice in state polling. First, Pennsylvania seems to be moving safely into Kerry’s camp. The four most recent polls show him up by 7% (Keystone), 7% (West Chester), 5% (Zogby), and 2% (SUSA).
    Keystone had had them tied in mid-Sept. Zogby shows a couple percentage point gain for Kerry since mid-Sept. SUSA is even with an early Sept. poll. I can’t find a prior for West Chester.
    And a U. Minn poll showed Kerry up by a percent in Iowa, probably Bush’s second best shot (after Wisconsin) at taking one of the Gore states.
    If these two both go to Kerry, then he can lose Wisconsin and win by getting Ohio and either holding all the Maine votes (I saw a report he’s trailing in one district there) or New Hampshire.
    This is razor thin right now. Keep at it, folks.

  9. Toes on

    We need to be prepared for another Swift Boat onslaught. Full page ad by the SBVT in this morning’s St. Louis Post Dispatch against Kerry showing Jane Fonda pictures. I presume that this has or will appear in other papers across the country. Evidence of the “going negative” comment above.
    Is it time to bring up the long-standing relationship between the Saudi Royal Family and the American Royal Family?
    I’m in to contribute to the cost of a national full page ad. How about you?

  10. Marcus Lindroos on

    > People still think that GWB is a strong leader even
    > though he is yet to do anything that declares
    > emphatically that his leadership brings positive
    > results. People still think that staying the course is a
    > sign of a strong leader, even tho they can see that in
    > GWB’s case its the sign of a man out of touch with
    > reality.
    If “Shrub” doesn’t perform better in the remaining two debates, I think the “strong leader” illusion will collapse, demoralizing his ardent supporters in the process. The bottom line, as evidenced by the following quote from last week’s debate, is he simply isn’t up to the job.
    “In Iraq, no doubt about it, it’s tough. It’s hard work. It’s incredibly hard. It’s – and it’s hard work. I understand how hard it is. I get the casualty reports every day. I see on the TV screens how hard it is. But it’s necessary work. We’re making progress. It is hard work. You know my hardest, the hardest part of the job is to know that I committed the troops in harm’s way and then do the best I can to provide comfort for the loves ones who lost a son or a daughter or husband and wife.”
    Very reassuring, isn’t it?

  11. goethean on

    The VP of sales at my company said that he put a Kerry-Edwards lawn sign in front of his house last night after the debate.
    If Cheney appealed to anyone, I would have thought that it would be him — a no-BS seat-of-the-pants senior management type. A Bush voter in 2000. An affluent suburbanite.
    He said Cheney just ‘scared the crap out of him.’

  12. bruhrabbit on

    An issue over negativity. I hope as we advance in the polls we don’t allow the Bush Administration to control the conversation in terms of negativity. In previous elections this attempt to go extremely negative has favored the Republicans. The speech today- which can only be described as surprising for a normall disciplined campaiqner like Bush- may have had twin purposes- 1) To get free press and 2) to open up a more negative attack. However, the good news is as mentioned above 1) Zogby shows us up 2) Other polls are trending to a Kerry surge 3) We are moving from international issues, into the Democrat strong hold of jobs and economy

  13. standa on

    And, this is what most pundits and pollsters are missing…
    “As a trial lawyer, Edwards learned not to allow a witness to explain. Had he challenged Cheney on each lie, Cheney could have explained them away. A better trial tactic, I am not sure about a debate, is to let the falsehood sit there but point it out later to the jury or the judge. By not letting Cheney explain away the lies, he is stuck with them and the public will act as the jury”.
    I think Edwards knew EXACTLY what he was doing and thank goodness since the Fourth Estate and most of its lame ass “talking heads” are so disgustingly pro Bush because their masters told them to be.
    No wonder JK said he couldn’t wait “for the day this fall” when Edwards “stands up for our vision and goes toe-to-toe with Dick Cheney.”

  14. standa on

    And this is the best analysis ( i.e. non pollster )
    Why I thought Edwards triumphed over Cheney by Andrew Sullivan senior editor at TNR
    Inevitably, at this stage of the game, especially after the wild swings of the race in the last month or so, people are getting committed to seeing their side win. … But most of the people actually rooting for one side or the other are not the people who will decide the election. Those people are undecideds. And for them, it seems to me, the debate wasn’t even close: Edwards won.

  15. standa on

    FWIW this is the best Op/Ed piece I’ve read on the VP debate.
    Cheney proves his irrelevance
    By Thomas Oliphant, Globe Columnist
    October 6, 2004
    THE COUNTRY doesn’t need Dick Cheney any more. After his 90 minutes on the stage last night, it is clear he is no longer an essential person in politics and government. What he brings to the table are liabilities.
    In debate against an opponent with the dangerously attractive attribute of freshness, Cheney paled — literally. He’s not special, it turns out. He doesn’t know anything special, he hasn’t done anything special, and for the future he doesn’t offer anything special.
    Cheney is now just another vice president who has had his hour on the stage without really mattering or making a difference. Four years ago, he had a glow of the Wizard of Oz about him, filling an obvious hole in his running mate’s background; last night, Cheney was just the grumpy old man behind the curtain.
    In presidential campaigns, that is the key to the veeps. They matter if they add something major, help solve a big problem, or provide the second element of a coalition. They are usually more important on the way into office than after they’ve been there, and last night was no exception.
    John Edwards had the political discipline to resist the temptation to behave with Cheney’s off-putting nastiness…He helps John Kerry politically, but what was important last night was that he helped demonstrate that Cheney isn’t a big player anymore, that Edwards can play on the same stage, and therefore that the country is free to change leaders next month.

  16. Joe Zainea on

    The Zogby Battleground Interactive Poll was just posted an hour ago. It shows Kerry/Edwards leading in all but three of the swing states but with razor thin margins in OH and FL.
    Everybody has to push now. If KE can continue to pound it home, we could see a big electoral vote margin on Nov. 2. But we all have to do something, big or small, to make it happen.

  17. Fred Vincy on

    I may misunderstood Greenberg’s comment that ABC “did not report the presidential vote”. However, ABC does report vote preferences from the sample (51-48 Bush pre-debate vs. 50-49 Bush post-debate).
    That is obviously more balanced that the party affiliation. Arguably, that gives some additional credibility to ABC’s numbers, but more likely it just suggests that the sample itself is atypical, given that Republicans usually have a slightly lower tendency to cross party lines, but seemingly had a higher tendency to do so in this sample.

  18. Bill on

    I hope all the righties went to http://www.factcheck.com last night, like Cheney suggested, and the first thing they read was “Why We Must Not Re-elect President Bush” by George Soros……….That should help Georgie Boy a lot! THANK YOU MR VICE PRESIDENT!

  19. Bel on

    Its true that people can be easily convinced Bill. Can you imagine that lots of people still believe that Saddam had WMDs, even though report after report shows otherwise?
    Can you also believe that there are people who still think that things are going well in Iraq, even though report after reports shows total chaos and disaster?
    People still think that GWB is a strong leader even though he is yet to do anything that declares emphatically that his leadership brings positive results. People still think that staying the course is a sign of a strong leader, even tho they can see that in GWB’s case its the sign of a man out of touch with reality.
    So yes.. people can be easily convinced and if they can believe the nonsense of the Bush campaign, then it ought to be easier for them to believe the truths of the Kerry camp.
    The likelihood of meaningfully successful offensives in Iraq is the same as hell reaching 60 degrees below zero, so dont look for it. A strong job report, well…… we will wait to see what that says on Friday. Only that if something magical did happen over the last 3 – 4 months, it would have been seen on the ground. It aint being seen.. but lets wait on that report.

  20. ramdan on

    Some data on the polls (using http://www.pollingreport.com)
    Of all the published polls, using both 2 and 3 way the race is Bush on average up by 1.6%.
    Bush 47.87
    Kerry 46.25
    Taking a STDEV and excluding polls over 2 STDEVs to exclude outliners the race is Bush up by .25%
    Bush 47%
    Kerry 46.75%
    In fact if instead of the average we use the mean its
    Bush 46.5
    Kerry 47
    So at worse Kerry is behind 1.5% but more likely closer to .25%.
    Kerry might as well concede right now 🙂
    For reference before the debate from 9/15 to 9/28 the race was Bush by 5.6%
    Bush 48.9
    Kerry 43.3

  21. Smooth Jazz on

    Wow, what do we have here? A virulent anti-GWB group does a poll in IA, a key sing state, and presto, GWB leads. If GWB leads in IA, it’s more than likely he has a similar or greater lead in WI & OH – Needless to say, if Kerry loses all 3 states, his path to 270 EVs becomes almost insurmountable.
    Oct 6, 2004
    Bush leads Kerry in new Iowa poll
    Washington, DC, Oct. 6 (UPI) — U.S. President George Bush has a slight lead over Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry in a poll of registered Iowa voters released Wednesday.
    Bush garnered 46 percent in the two-day poll of registered Iowa voters against 43 percent for Kerry. Liberal independent Ralph Nader’s support was at 3 percent in the poll, conducted by the Democrat firm Harstead Strategy Research, while 8 percent of the 717 registered voters surveyed said they remained undecided.
    The president’s 3 point lead over Kerry is inside the poll’s 3.7 percentage point error margin.
    The survey, which was undertaken for Americans Coming Together, a pro-Kerry 527 organization, also showed by 50 percent to 44 percent, voters in Iowa approve of the job George W. Bush is doing as president. Fifty-one percent of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of Bush vs. 34 percent who said their view was unfavorable. Forty percent said they had a favorable opinion of Kerry vs. 36 percent who said their opinion was unfavorable.

  22. Bel on

    At a glance, the debate last night appeared tied but once the analysis was done, it showed that Cheney did way too much fabricating and stretching of issues to be considered a winner.
    There were also times where he appeared a bit defenseless and literally buried his chin in his chest. As a matter of fact, he seemed to talk more into this chest during the end of the debate than to the audience.
    Even if viewers only looked at the debate at a glance, I still think that Edwards did more to elevate his kerry/edwards candidacy than cheney did for theirs. In like manner, I expect that in a few days, the undecideds would side with kerry/edwards a bit more.

  23. Big Red on

    A woman at work (I don’t know which candidate she supports) commented that the debate was a tie but Cheney looked like an old man as he left the stage. “He could barely get out of his chair”.

  24. Bill Makuch on

    The debates have clearly given KE all the momentum. They now have convinced many that, for now, they appear to be a viable alternative. However, these easily convinced people, can easily be unconvinced. Furthermore, momentum can shift again with a strong payroll report Friday, or more successful offensives in Iraq.

  25. Lawrence on

    I forgot to add that Gwen Iffyl (sp.?) was unmistakably hostile to Edwards – she stated that Edwards had less experience than any other VP candidate, and then asked him to defend himself – and, you’ll recall, then she turned the question over to Cheney, who could hardly believe he was being asked to pile on – “you want *me* to respond to that?”. Then, she corrected Edwards when he mentioned Kerry’s name in his answer, making the debate look like a game of simon-says.
    Yup, it’s that there libberal media agin…

  26. Paul R on

    Here’s whats going to happen: Edwards didn’t lay into Cheney for all his lies because he’s going to let Kerry do it against Bush on Friday night. Bush is going to be hit by a ton of bricks.

  27. Joe Zainea on

    Dick Cheney didn’t do George Bush any favors last night. If gravitas and zingers were all that mattered, Cheney won. But that’s not how it works.
    What came through to me was the stark comparison between Cheney’s strong performance and that of Bush’s last week. It conjured up the image of Cheney taking Bush by the hand to go and visit the 9/11 Commission for their private interview.
    I don’t think I’m alone on that image. Further, for independents, Cheney’s “thumb in the eye” style just doesn’t sell. If those two went toe to toe again with the same result, Kerry/Edwards would have it all sewed up.

  28. demtom on

    A corollary to the “incumbents need 50%” rule is that the current administration really needs to be perceived as winning these debates by some margin, to buttress the idea that the electorate supports them. Clinton/Gore in ’96 won all the post-debate polls (including VP) — not from any extraordinary rhetoric, or bad mistakes by the opposition, but simply reflecting that viewers had more or less decided on renewing their lease and thus found them more acceptable. Bush/Quayle in ’92, on the other hand, ran behind in all debates (including the last, though GOP spinners kept tying to argue it as a Bush win), a clear sign that they were on their way out.
    Last Thursday’s debate was a flukily decisive one — Bush was clearly flummoxed, and Kerry so surpassed his slimed pre-debate image that it seemed almost a knockout (at least, the closest since Bentsen/Quayle). I wouldn’t expect anything of the sort next time around, unless Bush has totally lost it. I’d expect we’ll get more of the “both men did well” thing that characterizes most post-debate analysis. But in that case, as last night, a tie does go to the challenger, since he is the one supposedly seeking to prove he can hold the same stage as the man who already fills the job.
    There’s a certain karmic justice to the trivial post-debate reactions going on. Where in 2000, Gore was pilloried for his off-camera sighing, now Bush gets lambasted for petulant sneers. And where the press went after Gore for the minor confusion of James Lee Witt and his assistant, now they can gleefully prove that Cheney lied about never meeting Edwards. As Margaret Carlson irritatingly said, “It’s fun” for the press to point out such miniscule inconsistencies — and it’s not “taking sides” on anything partisan.

  29. Alan on

    I really think that Cheney’s performance is laudable only to the extent that you stipulate that what he says is true. If I am correct, then many of the poll on “who won the debate” should change once the subjects are confronted with evidence on what Cheney lied about. And he lied about far more than whether he had happened to meet Edwards before or not.
    Are there any studies or polls that show any shift in support in the “before,” “after”, and — most importantly — the “after after” situations? The latter would mean for example after reading the washington posts’s annoataionts of the transcript.
    BTW, with Cheney’s awesome resume he should have rolled right over the “inexperienced” Edwards. He didn’t come even close.

  30. sky on

    “That is probably why the presidential race remained tied before and after the debate, though Kerry’s vote rose from 47 to 49 percent.”
    And that’s probably also why Kerry has been tracking consistently higher in Rassmussen
    into a tie today.

  31. Lawrence on

    I saw Chris Matthews on Hardball (MSNBC) saying that Cheney was the clear winner because Cheney clearly demonstrated more gravitas, but I think Edwards managed to get Cheney to growl and glower in a most unappealing way. Anyway, the early numbers show that most people don’t think like pundits.
    The public managed to give Bush senior a pass on the hapless Quayle, and however junior Edwards appears next to Mr. Halliburton, well, I seen Dan Quayle, I heard Dan Quayle, and, Mr Vice President, John Edwards ain’t no Dan Quayle.


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