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Off to the (NBC News/Wall Street Journal) Races

The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll is out and it has some very interesting findings about the role economic anxiety may play in this coming election. I'll cover those findings and provide some thoughts about how Democrats should approach the issue in tomorrow's post.

But today I thought I'd say a word or two about Bush's relatively strong horse race showing in this poll (2 points ahead of Kerry), compared to other recent public polls, which has occasioned some comment. Josh Marshall, for example, noted this and wondered whether the result was "an outlier or a trend" or perhaps was due to the NBC News question being asked of all adults, instead of registered or likely voters.

The all adults hypothesis doesn't seem to fit. Gallup and ABC News (see my March 9 post) do provide figures for all adults, in addition to registered/likely voters: in the Gallup poll, Kerry of Bush is ahead by 5 points among all adults and in the ABC News poll, Kerry is head of Bush by 11 points among all adults.

So we can safely reject the all adults hypothesis. What about time frame? Is the NBC News poll much more recent, so perhaps they're catching a shift in the public mood? Seems doubtful. The NBC News poll was conducted March 6-8, the Gallup poll March 5-7 and the ABC News poll March 4-7. That seems too close to account for the difference unless you believe March 8 was a very special day indeed.

So, to answer Marshall's question, it seems more outlier than trend. We'll see what other polls have to say as they come out, but that's the way it looks right now.

Actually, there were some other interesting horse race results in this poll that are at least as worthy of attention, if not more so. The poll had two tickets matched up against Bush-Cheney. The first, Kerry-Edwards, runs dead even with Bush-Cheney. The second, Kerry-Gephardt, runs 6 points behind Bush-Cheney. Interesting.

The poll also asked people whether they preferred that the Democrats or Republicans control Congress after the next election. By 4 points, they said they preferred that the Democrats wind up in control of Congress. That may not sound like much, but in this poll, that question has not returned a pro-Democratic margin since December, 1999. Now there's a result to conjure with.

Comments

The ticket matchups are very interesting. Kerry-Edwards also does better than Kerry-Gephardt in the midwest. This may seem counter-intuitive but if you think about it makes a lot of sense. Gephardt's big test of his viability was Iowa. Iowa was a next door to his home state. Gep didn't finish first, he didn't finish second. He didn't even finish third. He finished fourth in Iowa! The idea that he has some kind of natural regional appeal to say Ohio is dubious at best. In addition, labor has demonstrated its inefectiveness in GOTV this year. Thay have not delivered, and Kerry can't simply rely on Gephardt's association with labor to be decisice in November. He needs a broader appeal to women and independents who have positive feelings about Edwards. Edwards can also talk jobs in the parts of Ohio that are reddish and not be seen as a cultural outsider. Remember that much of rural Ohio looks a lot like North Carolina in many ways. But overall, Gephardt's poor showing in Iowa should be very instructive to the Kerry team.

Why doesn't some poll pose the Kerry/ McCain vs, ticket question?
I know John McCain has said "No"(kinda) but this is not out of the realm of possibilities.
I truly believe that a ticket like this would have Bush packing early for Texas.

Not too surprising about a Kerry-Gephart ticket. At least not here in Tennessee.

During our February primary, regardless of those who had dropped out since Iowa/New Hampshire, the ballot still contained all of the original candidates except for Bob Graham.

In Tennessee, Gephart only beat LaRouche! That was true in the state as a whole, as well as in every county of the county-by-county breakdown.

In Tennessee, Kerry-Sharpton, Kerry-Kucinich, Kerry-Braun or Kerry-Lieberman would all do better than Kerry-Gephart.

Let's not forget the margin of error in these polls. Usually they're at least +/- 2 percentage points. So a 2 point "lead" is not a lead at all, but a statistical tie.