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August 31, 2004

Voters Still Thumbs-Down on Economy

Despite the tightening of the horse race in Bush’s favor over the course of August, voters’ evaluations of Bush in key areas continue to be strikingly negative. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the economy and related issues.

This pattern can be seen across a wide range of polls taken near the end of August. For example, in the recent Los Angeles Times poll–unusually favorable to Bush in terms of the horse race–Bush’s (net negative) approval rating on the economy is essentially unchanged since July and his economic policies receive stinging evaluations in terms of their effect on the country and on individuals. Barely over one quarter of voters (27 percent) believe Bush’s policies have made the country better off than it was when he became president, compared to 71 percent who believe his policies have either made the country worse off (45 percent) or produced no change (26 percent). (That’s 16/81 among independents).

Similarly, just 28 percent believe Bush’s policies have made them as individuals better off than they were when he became president, compared to 70 percent who believe his policies have either made them worse off (27 percent) or kept them about the same (43 percent).

Or take the most recent Gallup poll. In this poll, less than one third (32 percent) say Bush’s tax cuts have mostly helped the US economy over the last three years, compared to 61 percent who say the cuts have either had no effect (29 percent) or mostly hurt the economy (32 percent). (Note that this result is actually worse than the result of a similar question about Bush’s tax cuts that Gallup asked in January.) Similarly, just 30 percent say Bush’s tax cuts have mostly helped their family over the last three years, compared to 68 percent who say the cuts have either had no effect (48 percent) or mostly hurt their family (20 percent).

A new ABC News/Washington Post (WP) poll even has Bush’s approval rating on the economy dropping since late July, from 47 percent approval/50 percent disapproval to 45 percent/52 percent (though note that the latter reading is among RV’s, not all adults). The poll also finds that, among RVs, the number that say most Americans are better off financially than they were in 2001 has actually declined during August from a hardly robust 18 percent to a mere 14 percent. An amazing 85 percent now say that most Americans are either not as well off (46 percent) or in about the same shape (39 percent) as they were in 2001.

Finally, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal (WSJ) poll also finds Bush’s approval rating on the economy going down from 45 percent approval/49 percent disapproval among voters in June to 43/52 today. The poll also finds that voters’ evaluation of the economy’s performance in the last year deteriorating since July. At that time, 37 percent said the economy had gotten better in the last year, compared to 31 percent who said it had gotten worse. Today, just 29 percent say the economy has improved in the last year, compared to 33 percent who say it has weakened.

And here’s a couple of statement choices the WSJ poll gave voters that show just how strongly the current of economic sentiment is running against the Bush campaign. The first choice was between:

The economy is improving for middle- and working-class families. More than one million new jobs have been created in the last six months and low interest rates mean that more people own their homes now than ever before.


The economy is NOT improving for middle- and working-class families. We have one million fewer jobs now than we did in 2000, and health care costs continue to rise.

The result: 61 percent endorse the second, negative statement and only 30 percent agree with the first, positive statement, which essentially summarizes the Bush campaign’s position on the economy.

And what about Bush’s tax cuts? Here’s the choice the WSJ poll gave voters:

The tax cuts have mostly benefited the wealthy, and have hurt middle- and lower-income families because they led to cuts in education, law enforcement, and health care.


The tax cuts have benefited ALL Americans, because taxpayers of all incomes received a tax cut, and this helped strengthen the economy by giving people more of their own money to spend.

In this case, 55 percent endorse the first, negative statement about the cuts, compared to 38 percent who agree with the second, positive statement–again, a fair summary of the Bush campaign’s official position on the cuts.

These and other data suggest that the recent improvement in Bush’s horse race performance is quite soft and will dissipate quickly if the Kerry campaign can return the political debate to the economy and other issues on which Bush is profoundly vulnerable.

August 30, 2004

The Race at the Start of the Republican Convention

The Myth: The SBVT controversy seriously harmed the Kerry campaign. Bush comes into his convention in much better political shape than he has been for quite a while.

The Reality: The race has changed little since the start of the SBVT controversy. Bush enters his convention with basically the same political vulnerabilities he had previously.

Let's go to the numbers. The poll that best provides a before-SBVT damage and after-SBVT damage picture of the horse race is the Gallup poll. That's because Gallup polled both on August 9-11--about a week before media coverage of SBVT really heated up--and on August 23-25, right after the coverage peaked and just as the Kerry campaign began its push-back.

What do the Gallup numbers show? As Gallup's release on their latest poll succinctly puts it: "No Change in Presidential Race Despite Attack Ads". Just so.

In fact, to the extent their numbers show change, it's in the opposite direction to the one everyone is assuming. In their August 9-11 poll, Kerry was behind by one point (47-48) among RVs; in their August 23-25 poll, Kerry's ahead by a point (48-47). (Bush's approval rating also declines by 2 ponts between the two surveys).

So why were (and are) people so convinced SBVT hurt? There were the Annenberg numbers, of course, on how many voters had heard of the the SBVT charges and found them at least a little bit believble. But there's a lot less to these data than people assumed--see EDM's earlier analysis on how these numbers were widely misinterpreted.

There were the August 23-25 Gallup numbers on likely voters, showing Bush ahead by 3 points, that fed the impression Bush was pulling ahead. But these LV numbers also represented no change from previous Gallup polls, which had showed Bush ahead among this group by about the same margin. (Indeed, it's interesting to note that in the entire month of August only one poll--Gallup--showed Bush ahead among LVs in the Bush-Kerry matchup and it did so three times and by almost identical margins. Must be something going on with that Gallup LV model.)

There was the Los Angeles Times (LAT) poll, which showed Bush with a 3 point lead among RVs, released right after the peak of the mudslinging. But the LAT poll had no point of comparison in August, much less close to the beginning of the SBVT controversy, so the LAT result showed nothing about change due to SBVT. Moreover, the LAT result was an outlier among the month's RV polls--every other poll taken during the month (save one Gallup poll)--had Kerry tied or ahead in the Kerry-Bush matchup.

Finally, there is the most plausible--in my view--source of this sentiment: the fact that a number of polls show a tightening of the horse race between very early August (i.e., right after the Democratic convention) and late August. That tightening ranges from 2-7 points, turning a small post-convention Kerry lead into a smaller Kerry lead or tie, depending on the poll you look at. But the most plausible hypothesis for this tightening is a natural post-convention decay in Kerry's support (given a lack of new impetus in Kerry's direction) over the course of the month, rather than the specific effect of the SBVT brouhaha.

So where does that leave us? In my view, about where we were before the Democratic convention. In fact--in addition to the horse race--if you look at Kerry-Bush comparisons on issues and on personal characteristics, the results of a number of polls seem almost to replicate the results of that particular poll prior to the Democratic convention.

And another critical thing hasn't changed at all--Bush's ratings in all his vulnerable areas (the economy, Iraq, health care, etc.), as well as voters' sense of whether the country is going in the right direction and whether a different direction is needed. These indicators have all continued to be quite negative (in some cases, have actually worsened) over the course of August, including the period allegedly affected by the SBVT controversy.

This is Bush's problem. He's got to run on something and, unfortunately for him, he has precious little to run on other than being the president of 9/11. The SBVT ads and subsequent media feeding frenzy didn't change that equation in the slightest--and it's not an equation that favors Bush's re-election.

Time Poll Finds 46%-46% Tie

An August 24-26 Time magazine survey of likely voters found John Kerry and George Bush tied 46%-46% in a two man race and Bush 46%, Kerry 44% and Nader 5% in a 3 way race.

NPR Survey Shows Kerry 50%, Bush 46%,

A Aug. 22-24 survey of registered voters conducted for NPR by Greenberg, Quinlan,Rosen and Public Opinion Strategies found John Kerry Leading George W. Bush 50% to 45% in a two man race and Kerry 47%, Bush 43% and Nader 3% in a three way match-up.

New Annenberg Center Study Shows 46% Believe Bush Behind Attack Ads, 37% Do Not

A Aug 23-26th Poll by the Annenberg Center for Public Policy shows a plurality of Americans - 46% - believe President Bush was behind the ads attacking John Kerry's military record while only 37% believe the Bush campaign's denials.

Day by day tracking of the percentage of voters who were influenced by the accusations and came to doubt that Kerry deserved his medals showed that from August 10-15 the percentage of doubters hovered in the low 20's, then rose between August 16-22 (reaching almost 30% on August 18th) and then returned back down to the low 20's between August 20-25.

August 28, 2004

What that "Awful" LA Times Poll Really Means

The Los Angeles Times poll released Thursday August 26th has created substantial consternation among democrats. Not only the mainstream media, but many pro-democratic writers and commentators have accepted the polls' apparent message that the sleazy attacks on Kerry's wartime record have been successful and have allowed Bush to overtake Kerry in the presidential race.

The bad news is that this perception has been widely accepted. The good news is that it's fundamentally wrong.

Let's start with the Kerry-Bush horse-race numbers. While the LA Times poll found Bush's support among registered voters rising from 46% in July to 49% on August 22-24th (and Kerry's support dropping from 48% to 46% in the same period), three other polls by major polling organizations found entirely different patterns.

An August 23-25th Gallup poll of registered voters found Kerry with 48% to Bush's 47%, At the beginning of August, Gallup showed Kerry and Bush tied at 48%.

An August 23-25th NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found a three point lead for Bush unchanged since July 22.

A Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll found Kerry 46%, Bush 43% on Aug 24-26. Kerry was up 2% from July 20-22 and Bush down 1% during that period.

In short, the four major polls conducted since August 20th do not reveal any consistent or substantial pro-Bush swing such as would be expected from a successful attack on John Kerry's war record and character during the week and a half before. Instead, the only generalization that can be made from looking at a broader group of over 20 polls of registered and likely voters since the beginning of August is of a slight and gradual shrinkage of about 3 or 4% in Kerry's lead.

If August had been a slow news month, this trend would almost certainly have been ascribed to an inevitable "coming back down to earth" following the run of positive news coverage Kerry had enjoyed for several months during the spring (the remarkable fundraising success, the popular choice of Edwards, the united, energized Democratic convention). Instead, because the attacks on Kerry’s medals and military service were intensely dramatic and widely covered, many commentators simply assumed that any changes in the opinion polls had to be due to their influence.

But the data in the LA Times and the other recent polls is actually more consistent with a different interpretation -- that a certain decline in Kerry's support, particularly among veterans, was inevitable as voters began to pay more attention to the campaign. On the other hand, the data show that the swift-boat surrogates attack on Kerry's medals and service has been -- as it richly deserved to be -- an almost unmitigated fiasco.

Since the beginning of Kerry's campaign it has been clear that there were a substantial number of veterans, and Vietnam veterans in particular, whose support he would never be able to attract because of his participation in the movement against the Vietnam War. While men like John McCain and Max Cleland have been able to "put the scars of Vietnam behind them", and relate to opponents of the war without rancor or bitterness, there are still many veterans, their families and friends who cannot. At the emotional core of this group are those who lost a father, husband or other close relative or friend in the Vietnam War and for whom "making peace" with opponents of the war would feel like a betrayal of their loved one - an admission that he and his sacrifice had been forgotten.

As a result, there was never any realistic possibility that Kerry would hold onto the support of many of these voters, even after his quite effective performance at the Democratic convention. All the Bush campaign needed to do was to make sure that these voters were made aware of Kerry's significant role in the anti-war movement of the early 1970's.

This is what the LA Times poll essentially found. In July, 32% agreed that "By protesting the war in Vietnam, John Kerry demonstrated a judgment and belief that is inappropriate in a president". By late August, this had risen to 37%. Similarly, 26% of the sample (and 31% of the men) agreed that Kerry's anti-war protests made them less likely to vote for him. The voters among whom the LA Times survey found Kerry loosing ground in August were married, less educated, self-described conservatives, owning a gun and living in a rural area -- a demographic profile that also describes the cultural environment of many U.S. veterans.

Had the Bush campaign been satisfied with simply harvesting these sympathetic voters, they probably could have done so with even a relatively honest and low-key series of commercials. Instead, however, they hoped that, with the help of their surrogates, they could achieve an even more ambitious goal - to impugn Kerry's valor, honesty and character through attacks on his wartime record of bravery and heroism.

The essence of this strategy was not only to directly damage Kerry's image and reputation, but to trap him into choosing between "taking the high road" and not responding to the attacks (which could then be spun to make him look weak and indecisive) or to provoke him into an ill-tempered, aggressive response (for which he could then be criticized as negative, partisan, bitter and shrill).

But the Bush campaign made a profound miscalculation. In the L.A. Times survey, only 18% of the voters had been convinced that "Kerry misrepresented his war record and does not deserve his war medals" while 58% said Kerry "fought honorably and does deserve" them. Independent voters sided with Kerry 5 to 1. Even men and self-described conservatives - groups that are normally quite pro-Bush - strongly supported Kerry, by 59 to 19 for men and 42 to 29 for conservatives. Other polls, such as the Fox/Opinion Dynamics and Annenberg Center for Public Policy survey found similar attitudes. In the Fox poll, even most veterans held, by 50% to 21% that Kerry deserved his purple hearts.

Moreover, Americans did not buy Bush's transparent attempts to pretend his campaign was not involved with the smear. The Gallup poll showed that more Americans think Bush is responsible for the commercials (50%) then do not (44%) and 56% think he should specifically denounce them while only 32% think he should not. An August 26 Annenberg Center survey found very similar attitudes.

It was this failure to convince the American people of the charges against Kerry that set the stage for the growing backlash against the Bush campaign - the investigative reports and editorial statements in newspapers across the country, the resignations of two Bush officials when their links to the smear campaign were exposed, and then Bush's disingenuous and finally humiliating series of statements and clarifications.

From the Bush campaign's point of view, the magnitude of the swift-boat fiasco becomes clear when it is recognized that a major goal of the August campaign was to put John Kerry on the defensive - to have him stumbling over his words, being pilloried in the press and firing his advisors. Instead (although the issue will now be muted by the theatrics of the Republican convention) it was Bush who was forced onto the defensive by the end of last week while Kerry weathered the attacks with an extraordinarily small decline in the level of his popular support.

Count on it, the Bushies are now very, very nervous. This wasn't the way they had it planned.

August 26, 2004

Florida Poll Shows Race Too Close To Call - But Trend Appears Favorable for Kerry/Edwards

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of 1002 Floridians conducted Aug. 20-22 shows registered Florida voters split evenly split 46%-46% between Kerry/Edwards and Bush/Cheney.

The trend among these voters since July 19-22, however, is toward the Democrats with support for Bush/Cheney declining from 49% to 46% while Kerry/Edwards rose one point from 45% to 46%. The same trend is evident among likely voters as well.

August 25, 2004

Zogby Poll sees Kerry Leading in Most Battleground States

An August 23rd. Zogby survey of key battleground states found Kerry in the lead in most. In some cases the lead was strong, outside the margin of error of the polls; in others only a small gap separated the two candidates.

The key results are shown below

Kerry Lead in Battleground States

Michigan - 5.2%

Pennsylvania - 8.3%

Wisconsin - 4.4%

Minnesota - 5.7%

Iowa - 7.0%

New Mexico - 5.6%

Washington - 8.4%

Oregon - 11.3%

Arkansas - 2.6%

Missouri - 0.5%

Nevada - 1.7%

Tennessee - 1.9%

Florida - 0.6%

Bush, in contrast, was ahead in only two battleground states, Ohio (51.4% to 45.8%) and West Virginia (49.3% to 41.5%).

IDB/TIPP Poll Finds Race Tied

An Aug 17-23rd Poll by Investor's Business Daily/Christian Science Monitor/TIPP finds Bush and Kerry tied at 43%. Kerry continues to hold lead with independents 41%-35%

Gallup Poll sees Tie in Florida

A Aug. 20-22 CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll shows Kerry and Bush tied at 46%-46% among registered voters. with 8% still undecided. This represents an improvement in Kerry's standing from July 19-22 when Bush lead among registered voters 49%-45%

Economist Poll Shows Kerry Firmly in Lead 48%-41%

An August 16-18 poll by the London Economist, using a relatively large sample of 1799 respondents, showed John Kerry with a firm lead of 48% to 41% over George W. Bush.

August 22, 2004

Opinion Data on the Effect of Anti-Kerry ads Not as Clear As Press Commentary Suggests

Recent press commentary has combined data from polls by CBS and The Annenberg Center on Public Policy to paint a dismaying picture of the effect of the ads by the Bush surrogate group "Swift Boat Vets for Truth", particularly among veterans.

The two most widely quoted statistics are The Annenberg Center for Public Policy's finding that more then half the country knows about the ads, and that, of that group, close to half - 46% - found the ads "very or somewhat believable". This finding, along with CBS data that show Kerry's support among vets precipitously falling from a 46%-46% tie with Bush immediately after the Democratic convention to a 37%-55% deficit on August 15-18, has been combined in several analyses to draw the conclusion that the anti-Kerry ads have been very effective and deeply destructive to the Kerry campaign.

Caution is in order, however, in interpreting these findings. The published report of the Annenberg survey does not present separate results for those who found the ads "very" believable versus those who found them only "somewhat" believable. Given the extensive and extremely right-slanted character of the press coverage (FOX/Murdoch providing sympathetic coverage; the other networks neutrally reporting "The Growing Controversy") a survey response that the charges are "somewhat" believable may represent an cautious "I don't know, but, heck, there may be something" reservation of judgment, and not a firm belief.

This possibility is bolstered by the fact that, when asked if they believed the major accusation against Kerry - that he did not legitimately earn all his medals - only 21% of the Annenberg respondents agreed. The strong majority -- 59% -- supported Kerry on this issue, with an additional 20% withholding judgment. Thus, while the data clearly show that the anti-Kerry ads have become widely known, their actual effectiveness is not yet clear.

The CBS data showing a dramatic decline in Kerry's support among veterans since the convention must also be handled with care. A Rasmussen Reports poll taken shortly after the Democratic convention (Aug 4th) showed Kerry with only 35% support among veterans, compared with 58% for Bush - a result not very different then the CBS data for August 15-18 after the ads had appeared. It therefore remains unclear how much influence the anti-Kerry swift boat ads have actually had.

As the Bush surrogate groups now switch their attack to Kerry's anti-Vietnam war positions in the early 1970's, the issues will shift, but it will become increasingly important to consider the extent to which these attacks simply reinforce the views of voters who were already planning to vote for George W. Bush or if they begin to successfully undermine support for Kerry among voters not yet committed. At this point, it's still too early to tell.

August 20, 2004

Harris Poll Finds Race Tied.

An Aug. 10-15 Harris Poll finds Kerry and Bush tied at 47%-47%. A June poll by Harris showed Bush with a substantial lead of 51% vs. 41% making the current tie represent a 6% improvement for Kerry since June and a 4% decline for Bush.

CBS poll shows Kerry/Edwards 46%-45% vs. Bush/Cheney

An Aug. 15-18 CBS poll gives Kerry/Edwards a one-point lead over Bush/Cheney. Without Ralph Nader included, the Kerry advantage rises to 3% - Kerry/Edwards 47% vs. Bush/Cheney 44%

August 19, 2004

Ohio Poll Shows Undecided Gradually Moving Toward Kerry/Edwards

An August 14-17 poll of Ohio voters by Strategic Vision shows Bush/Cheney leading Kerry/Edwards by 49%-46%. But the trend since July 17-19th indicates that undecided voters declined from 8 to 5% and Kerry/Edwards increased from 44% to their current 46%

Pew Research Center Report Shows Swing Voters Closer to Kerry Than Bush

The report, released August 18th, notes that "With foreign policy and defense issues at the forefront of the presidential campaign this year, swing voters' views on a range of (foreign policy) issues take on added importance. On eight of the 11 foreign policy issues in the poll on which there are significant partisan gaps, opinions of swing voters are closer to those of Kerry supporters than to those of Bush voters.

On several issues, the differences between swing voters and committed Bush voters is substantial. More than half of swing voters (53%) regard strengthening the United Nations as a top priority compared with 35% of Bush voters who have this view. And about twice as many swing voters as Bush supporters view global warming as a major concern (35% vs. 18%). "

UPDATE: Sorry, slip of the finger( see comments ).

August 18, 2004

Pennsylvania Poll Shows Kerry Holding Lead

A Quinnipiac University poll released on August 18th shows Democratic challenger John Kerry holding a 47 – 42 percent lead over President George W. Bush among Pennsylvania voters, with 4 percent for independent candidate Ralph Nader.

Military veterans or voters with a household member who is a veteran or currently in active duty or reserve service support Kerry 46 – 42 percent, with 6 percent for Nader. These voters from military families say 54 – 41 percent that the war is wrong.

"Despite a month of relentless campaigning by the Republican and Democratic camps in Pennsylvania, the presidential horse race remains virtually the same" said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"In what may prove to be damaging news for the President, the anti-war attitude among voters from military households in Pennsylvania is greater than the attitude among all voters. Kerry hold the same slim lead among these voters that he has among the electorate in general," Richards added.

Michigan Poll Shows Kerry Ahead 48-42

An August 18 poll of Michigan voters conducted by Strategic Vision (R) shows Kerry holding his lead over George W. Bush. The survey shows Bush's disapproval rating rising from 40% to 47% since July 17th.

August 17, 2004

Kerry Closing Gap in North Carolina

The News and Observer reports that "In what may be the closest presidential race in the state since 1992, Democrat John Kerry is within 3 percentage points of President Bush in a new poll".

Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll

A Monday August 16, 2004 Rasmussen Tracking Poll shows Senator John Kerry with 48% of the vote and President George W. Bush with 47%. Kerry has been at 47% or 48% for ten of the last twelve days. Bush has been at 45% or 46% for eight of those days. In fact, the President has been at 45% or 46% for 22 of the last 26 days.

Kerry 48%, Bush 45% in Ohio

An August 11th American Research Group survey of 600 respondents shows Kerry 3 points ahead of George W. Bush. The survey also shows Bush's favorability rating declining from 48% to 41% during the period from June 23 to August 11th while John Kerry's favorability rating increased from 48% to 51%.

August 16, 2004

Kerry 47%, Bush 43% in New Zogby Poll

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry is favored over President George W. Bush (47%-43%) among likely voters when Ralph Nader, Libertarian, Constitution and Green Party presidential candidates are factored into the 2004 presidential race, according to a new Zogby America poll.

The presidential ticket of Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and North Carolina Senator John Edwards gained two points since the Democratic National convention over President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney and now leads by seven points (50%-43%).

August 13, 2004

Kerry Holds Slight Lead in New PRC Poll

A poll released on August 12th by The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reports "With Bush holding the advantage on most personal qualities and Kerry on most issues, the horse race itself is about as deadlocked as it was prior to the Democratic Convention, with 47% of registered voters favoring the Kerry/Edwards ticket, and 45% favoring Bush and Cheney. Just 2% say they would vote for Nader if the election were being held today."

Kerry and Bush Neck and Neck in New Gallup Poll

According to a nation-wide Gallup Poll reported on August 13th, "Among all registered voters, the race is just a one-point difference, with Bush at 48% and Kerry at 47%. The late July/early August poll had each candidate at 48%.

If independent Ralph Nader is included in the ballot, Bush receives 48% among likely voters, Kerry 46%, and Nader 3%. Among registered voters, Bush still has a one-point lead over Kerry, 46% to 45%, and Nader gets 5%."

Kerry Gains in New FL Poll

A Quinnipiac University Poll of Florida released August 12 reports "John Kerry leads President George W. Bush 47 – 41 percent among Florida voters, with 4 percent for independent candidate Ralph Nader...With Nader out of the race, Sen. Kerry leads President Bush 49 – 42 percent." The poll indicates a surge for Kerry since June 29, when the Quinnipiac poll reported Bush and Kerry tied at 43 percent, with 5 percent for Nader.

August 12, 2004

Michigan Tilts Toward Kerry

An Epic/MRA poll of "active voters" conducted from August 4-10 reports a 49-42 advantage for John Kerry in Michigan, with 3 percent for Nader, and 6 percent "unsure."

Kerry Has Strong Lead in Hawaii

John Kerry leads George Bush among Hawaii's registered voters 48-41 in a SMS Research poll conducted July 28-August 3rd for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and KITV.

August 11, 2004

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey

Along with the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey released August 9th, Democracy Corps has also released a strategy paper by Stan Greenberg and James Carville.

The paper, titled "From Small Bounce to Big Opportunity" examines Kerry's post-convention gains on personal characteristics and national security issues and points to ways the campaign can use the theme of "Strength at Home" to address both national security and economic issues, where Kerry has not yet won all the support that he has the potential to attract.

Prescription Drug Issue

A new poll released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health found substantial dissatisfaction among seniors with last years Medicare prescription drug law. The press release issued by the foundation pointed out the political ramifications.

"The Democrats in Congress hold an edge over both President Bush and the Republicans in Congress on handling the prescription drug issue today. When asked generally who is doing a better job handling the issue, 43% of seniors (40% of the public) say the Democrats in Congress and 24% of seniors (32% of the public) say the President. "

August 10, 2004

Kerry 'Still Has the Edge' in Time Poll

A Time magazine poll reported on August 6th concluded "Just as the Democratic Party convention gave the Kerry campaign very little "bounce" in the polls, so have last week's elevated terror alerts had only limited impact on an electorate already largely decided, according to the latest TIME poll. Senator John Kerry leads President Bush among likely voters by a margin of 48% to 43%, with Ralph Nader running at 4%."

Strong Lead for Kerry in Key Swing States

Recent SurveyUSA election polls in swing states reveal widening leads for John Kerry:

Michigan: Kerry ahead 52-41 reported August 5
Washington: Kerry ahead 52-43 reported August 3
Pennsylvania: Kerry ahead 53-41 reported August 3

Zogby Polls Say Kerry leads in 13 of 16 Swing States

The Wall St. Journal reports "The latest Zogby Interactive poll, taken during the Democratic convention, shows John Kerry ahead in 13 of the 16 battleground states we track. That is his biggest lead -- in terms of the number of states -- since Zogby began conducting twice-a-month online polls for WSJ.com in late May. Moreover, his lead is greater than the margin of error in five of the states (including Pennsylvania), up from four states just before the convention. And Mr. Kerry took back narrow leads in Florida and West Virginia."

August 8, 2004

Kerry Up By 7 In New National Poll

A poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for Democracy Corps August 2-5 found that 51 percent of likely voters would vote for John Kerry "if the election were held today," with 44 percent for George Bush.

Kerry Gaining Among Independents

A poll released on August 6th by the University of Pennsylvania's National Annenberg Election Survey concluded "Independents had already preferred Kerry over Bush on the question of who best shared their values and who was most inspiring. But a 47 to 36 percent advantage for Kerry on values went to 52 and 33 percent, and a 44 to 37 percent lead on inspiration rose to 52 and 34 percent."

Kerry Leads By 7 In New FL, NH Polls

In an American Research Group Poll of "likely voters" in Florida reported on August 6th, 50 percent of respondents chose John Kerry, with 43 percent supporting George Bush, 2 percent for Nader and 5 percent undecided.

In another ARG poll released August 6th, 49 percent of "likely voters" in New Hampshire supported Kerry, compared to 42 percent for Bush, 2 percent for Nader and 7 percent undecided.

Strategic Vision

An Aug. 2-4 Strategic Vision (R) Poll of Pennsylvania voters finds Kerry/Edwards ahead 51-43

Investor's Business Daily/Christian Science Monitor/TIPP

Aug 2-5 Poll by Investor's Business Daily/Christian Science Monitor/TIPP Shows Bush approval continues down. Election match-up shows Kerry 49, Bush 43

Associated Press-Ipsos

An Associated Press-Ipsos poll conducted aug 3-5 Shows Kerry/Edwards leading Bush/Cheney 48-45. The Survey also shows Bush Disapproval at 50% vs. 49% Approval and Dems Favored for Congress by 48-44

August 6, 2004

Marist Poll Brings More Good News for Kerry

A Marist Poll released August 4th indicates that 55 percent disapprove of Bush's handling of "the situation in Iraq," 51 percent disapprove of his "handling of the economy" and 56 percent have a "favorable impression" of John Kerry, compared to 51 percent for George Bush.

In addition, the National Journal's Polltrack analysis of the Marist data concluded "Maybe John Kerry (D) didn't get the traditional "bounce" following last week's Democratic National Convention, but a new survey shows the presidential hopeful did improve voters' perceptions of him as a capable leader.

Among registered voters surveyed by Marist College Friday through Monday, Kerry upped his standing on his "vision for the future," on being "respected by leaders throughout the world" and on whether he's "ready to be president."

Fox Poll finds Gains for Kerry

A Fox news/Opinion Dynamics poll released August 5th found that "While not moving the race numbers much, the convention does appear to have improved Democratic nominee Senator John Kerry's image with the public. At the same time, President George W. Bush's job approval rating is at the lowest point of his presidency."

Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman added "What we see post-convention is actually a strengthening of the polarization in the electorate. Kerry voters are now more confident in their man and more committed to him... The ability of the Bush campaign to paint Kerry with a negative brush has been diminished and so has the chance for any major electoral movement. Given the closeness of the race, this may diminish the value of trying to use television to persuade voters and enhance the value of traditional get-out-the-vote efforts. With roughly equal numbers of voters on each side, getting them to the polls becomes crucial."

August 5, 2004

See You at the End of August

Well, it's come time for the annual Teixeira family vacation so I'm going to give blogging a rest for a bit. I will return with my usual data-obsessed ranting and raving on or about August 30 (just in time to catch the fun at the GOP convo!)

In the meantime, to hold the fort, as it were, the EDM team will be providing links to, and brief excerpts from, new polling data and reports as they become available. Hopefully, you'll find this feature of use, but let us know either way.

See you soon, with my batteries recharged and ready for what promises to be an intense fall campaign!

August 3, 2004

Follow the Bouncing Polls

Before all these post-convention polls came out, I was on record as saying:

It’s not the bounce from the convention that’s important (and certainly not its exact size, which I suspect will be rather modest), but rather the extent to which Kerry has set himself up for a successful fall campaign.

I stand by that statement. The chief importance of the Democratic convention was that it could—and did—make a substantial contribution toward setting Kerry up for a successful fall campaign. In that sense, Kerry received a significant “bounce” from the convention, as all available polling data agree.

As for the traditional trial heat bounce, it does appear to be true that, just as I suspected, Kerry received only a modest bounce from the convention—but determining just how modest that modest bounce was has turned out to be very tricky indeed.

In previous posts, I discussed the Newsweek and the rather strange Friday-Saturday Gallup results, which showed Kerry tanking on Saturday night, thereby effectively eliminating his trial heat bounce. The situation was not cleared up when Gallup went back into the field for a third night (Sunday night), apparently to check their data. The Sunday results are fairly similar to the Saturday results and therefore reduce Kerry’s bounce even further. For example, the Kerry–Bush RV horse race is now tied at 48 percent to 48 percent, rather than a 50 percent to 47 percent Kerry lead. However, the various gains detailed above for Kerry on issues, candidate characteristics, and so on remain, even if slightly diminished by the third night’s data.

The next poll to consider is the CBS News/New York Times survey. CBS News finds Kerry–Edwards with a solid six-point lead among RVs (49 percent to 43 percent), including a seventeen-point lead among independents. However, this is only a slightly better lead than they had in CBS News’ July 11–15 poll (49 percent to 44 percent). But, again, this latter poll is still a bit too early to use to serve as a good comparison point for measuring the horse race bounce.

Otherwise, the poll is full of results that are quite favorable for Kerry. Bush’s approval/disapproval is 44 percent/49 percent (37 percent/51 percent among independents). His rating on the economy is just 39 percent/54 percent (30 percent/59 percent among independents), even worse than two weeks before, when it was 42 percent/51 percent. And his rating on Iraq is even lower than his economic rating, at 38 percent/55 percent.

Right direction/wrong track has also fallen over the last two weeks and is now at an abysmal 36 percent/59 percent.

Moreover, voters believe Bush’s presidency has divided Americans (55 percent), rather than brought them together (31 percent). But they believe the opposite about a Kerry presidency: by 53 percent to 29 percent, they think he would bring Americans together.

They also believe, by 55 percent to 41 percent, that Bush does not have the same priorities for the country that they have, whereas, by 47 percent to 40 percent, they believe that Kerry does.

Kerry also has succeeded in convincing voters he has strong leadership qualities: 58 percent believe that about him, the exact same number as believe that about Bush.

Finally, Democrats have made substantial progress in convincing voters that they have a clear plan for the country. Two weeks ago, by 51 percent to 36 percent, voters said that they didn’t have such a plan; now by 44 percent to 40 percent, voters say that the Democrats do.

The final poll to consider is the ABC News/Washington Post (WP) poll, which, at least in terms of timing, is the best-positioned to measure the convention bounce. Their pre-convention poll was on July 22–25, the period exactly preceding the convention, and their post-convention poll was July 30–August 1, the period exactly after the convention.

Perhaps coincidentally, it’s also the only the poll that finds much evidence of a trial heat bounce. Before the convention, Bush led Kerry in this poll, 49 percent to 48 percent (an unusually pro-Bush result, though they were the only poll in the field at the time); after the convention, Kerry leads Bush, 52 percent to 45 percent. That’s a four-point bounce in terms of support level for Kerry and an eight-point bounce in terms of margin.

This bounce is modest by historical standards but is certainly more substantial than that suggested by other polls, particularly the rather peculiar Gallup poll. And note especially the failure of the Gallup poll to detect a Kerry lead at all: the WP poll has Kerry ahead by seven points and CBS News by six points on the exact same survey dates; the Newsweek poll has earlier survey dates and has Kerry ahead by eight points. The Gallup poll is truly an outlier among these major polls.

The WP poll also shows a lot of bounce for Kerry on a variety of important issues and characteristics. His favorables go up from 48 percent/39 percent pre-convention to 51 percent/32 percent post-convention. His advantage on the economy goes from –1 to +11; on Iraq, from –12 to +2; on education, from +1 to +13; on the campaign against terrorism, from –18 to –3; on health care, from +3 to +19; and on taxes, from –6 to +6.

On candidate characteristics, he also posts strong gains: on honest and trustworthy, he goes from –6 to +6; on understands the problems of people like you, from +4 to +14; on strong leader, from –19 to –6; on making the country safer and more secure, from –16 to –3; on shares your values, from –6 to +6; and on having a vision for the future, he bests Bush by thirteen points.

Kerry also is now considered more of an optimist; pre-convention, he was considered an optimist by 55 percent and a pessimist by 34 percent; now he is rated an optimist by 65 percent and a pessimist by 22 percent. That’s actually a better rating than Bush now gets on this question.

And here’s a particularly impressive result: by 52 percent to 44 percent, voters select Kerry over Bush as the one better qualified to be commander in chief of the U.S. military.

So, arguably, Kerry got a substantial bounce where he needed it most, but that improved image did not—perhaps could not—pay immediate and large dividends in terms of trial heat measures. After all, given that (a) Kerry was already doing well in trial heats for a challenger; (b) he’d already “spent” some of his bounce early by selecting Edwards as his running mate before the convention; and (c) this is already a highly polarized race with relatively few undecided voters, there was little room for Kerry to go up quickly in the trial heats. But the substantial gains on image and issues he made as a result of the convention put him in a good position to continue to build his lead over Bush as we move into the fall campaign.

August 1, 2004

From Baby Bounce to No Bounce?

Yesterday, I criticized Newsweek for passing off its poll as a measure of Kerry's bounce from the convention, when it didn't provide the right data for doing so--the "before" poll was too early (July 8-9) and, most important, the "after" poll wasn't really after since half of it was conducted Thursday, before the end of the convention and Kerry' speech. Since Newsweek's own poll indicated that Kerry did much better in the second half of their poll, after his speech, than before and since other data indicated that Kerry's pre-convention support was probably less than that indicated by their July 8-9 poll, it seemed to logical to me that their measure was probably an underestimate of Kerry's true bounce.

But now we have Gallup data that were collected entirely after the end of the convention (Friday and Saturday) and compared to a poll reasonably close to the beginning of the convention. And, quite oddly, they show, if anything, less of a bounce than that measured by Newsweek. Newsweek, in the RV Kerry-Bush matchup, had Kerry's support level going up a point and his margin increasing by 2 points. In Gallup's data, Kerry's support level also goes up a point in this matchup, but his margin actually decreases by a point.

Huh? How did that happen, when Gallup's polling on two days that should have been very good for Kerry and Newsweek only caught one of them? And beyond the bounce, how does Gallup wind up with a 50-47 Kerry lead, while Newsweek has the race at 52-44 for Kerry? After all, in early July, when these two polls were conducted at about the same time, they wound up with virtually identical results (51-45 Kerry in Newsweek; 51-44 Kerry in Gallup) in this matchup.

Apparently, there was something about that Saturday when Gallup polled. Gallup reports, consistent with the Newsweek data, that Friday was quite a good night for Kerry. But Saturday came in very differently, with quite good results for Bush--hence, the horse race results they reported.

Maybe this was just the shortest bounce on record--it only lasted one night! But I don't know; it's hard to think of a good reason why this would be so. What could have happened on Saturday to turn things around so quickly?

Also, just to deepen the mystery, other results from the Gallup poll suggest a good bounce for Kerry in almost all other respects. Compared to their pre-convention poll, Bush's approval rating went down and his disapproval rating went up. By 57-39, the public now agrees that Kerry "has the personality and leadership qualities a president should have" (up from 53/41) and by 52-43, the public now says they agree with Kerry on the issues that matter most to them (up from 49-42).

On who can best handle specific issues, Kerry's lead on the economy has gone from 8 to 11 points; on Iraq, he has gone from -5 to +2; on terrorism, from -18 to -12; on health care from +17 to +21; and on taxes from +2 to +3. Kerry has also regained the lead over Bush on who can manage the government effectively (+1); increased his lead from +8 to +15 on "cares about people like you"; reduced his deficit from -19 to -9 on who is a strong and decisive leader; took the lead over Bush on "is a person you admire" (+2); increased his lead on having an optimistic vision for the future from +3 to +11; took the lead over Bush on being honest and trustworthy (+5); and registered a large lead on "will unite the country, not divide it" (+13).

And how about this one: Kerry is now preferred over Bush, 51-46, as the candidate the public trusts more to handle the responsibilities of commander-in-chief of the military. And he has a higher net rating than Bush on being capable (or not) of handling the commander-in-chief resonsibilities (+30 vs. +21).

Heck, Kerry even went up on having a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq, so that his net rating on having a plan (-14) is now actually a little bit better than Bush's (-16). Before the convention, Bush's net rating on this issue (-9) was a great deal better than Kerry's (-23).

But, somehow, all this didn't affect the horse race much. Hard to figure out. It must have been a very strange Saturday.

Well, we'll see what the other polls have to say. And Gallup apparently is going to stay in the field for a third night (Sunday night), so we'll see what happens with that. In the meantime, bounce or not, Kerry still seems to have helped his general political position by the convention which, as I've argued here a number of times, is the really important thing.