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NDN Surveys Show Democrats Need Clarity and High Hispanic Turnout

The New Democrat Network (NDN) has two new surveys that each provide a different important insight into the dynamics of the 2004 campaign.

The two surveys are a nationwide poll of likely voters by Penn, Schoen & Berland (PSB) and a survey of Hispanic RVs by Bendixen and Associates that included 800 interviews in Florida and 600 interviews each in the three southwestern states of Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada.

The PSB poll has a number of interesting findings and I urge you to read the poll memo on the NDN site. But the most revealing finding is this: when asked whether Bush, the Republican party, the Democratic party and Kerry, respectively, “has a clear agenda for the future of the nation”, this is what voters had to say:

Bush: 57 percent yes/40 percent no
Republican party: 56 percent yes/39 percent no
Democratic party: 45 percent yes/50 percent no
Kerry: 41 percent yes/52 percent no

I detect a pattern here and it ain’t good for the Democratic campaign. It’s not enough to criticize Bush; voters need to believe Democrats have a clear and positive alternative.

The Bendixen polls of southwestern states show Kerry running even more strongly than he was in NDN's polls of the same states in April. Kerry's lead among southwestern Hispanics is now 63-30, slightly larger than Gore received in these three states in the 2000 election.

The Bendixen data also finds that southwestern Hispanics prefer the Democrats over the Republicans by wide margins on issues like: helping you and your family live a better life (+29); being committed to public education (+27); creating a large number of new jobs (+32); and supporting universal health care (+37).

And Bush and the Republicans are viewed ever more negatively by these voters. In Arizona, the Republican party image is down from 48 percent positive/44 percent negative to an abysmal 32/52 and among all southwestern Hispanics the Republican party image has declined from 42/42 to a net -16 (34/50). Similarly, Bush's job rating among Arizona Hispanics has sunk to 38/58 from 42/53 and among all southwestern Hispanics from 41/53 to 39/58.

Finally, the poll of Florida Hispanics finds Democrats and Kerry making some gains compared to earlier in the year, including among Cuban-Hispanics who typically vote very heavily Republicans. Bendixen's estimtes indicate Democrats could do better this election among Florida Hispanics than they did in 2000, which could be key to delivering the state for Kerry.


A cause for some concern to be sure, but this is also including fiercely pro-Republican Cubans in FL.

Any sample that mixes in Cubans with all other hispanics is going, I would think to have a Republican tilt.

By the way, as an adjunct to my last post, I recently read a study in the Wall Street Journal that showed Cubans born after 1980 were almost 6 times more likely to be Democrats than their parents. It was something like a 20 point Democrat jump in 10 years.

I always hesitate to disagree with Ruy, but I really just have to ask...but before the question a preface.

We as Democrats sure think we know what Bush's agenda for the future is..Privatize Social Securrity, lay waste to the rules controlling environmental degradation, make the rich richer through redistribution of wealth via tax policy etc.,etc., etc..

But I don't really see that Bush has articulated a clear agenda for the future. He has actually avoided doing that. If so, what is it - by his and the RNC's own lights? I think he has done just the opposite. He has defined himself by saying he's not John Kerry. And he's been , up to now, more successful at defining Kerry than Kerry has been successful at defining Bush.

I think when people respond to that in a poll; it's like all those focus group attendees who say they don't like negative campaigning, but who wind up subconsciously believing the negative spin anyway.

Kerry does have a clear an agenda, but the press doesn't cover it. They cover the attacks and the horserace. I think if Kerry suceeds in his attacks on Bush's incompetence in Iraq and Bush's foray into fantasyland; that the outcome will be, when you ask this question again, that voters will think Kerry has a clear agenda.

My earlier post discussed an issue in internal poll assessment. In essence I was saying that people in polls don't always say what they mean or how they really feel or respond. Some lie, but that is not what I was addressing. I was addressing the fact that some who are polled give the answers that are expected or are in some sense "acceptable".

In others they are just unaware of their own subconcious response. For example in the Swift Vets attack ads, respondents were asked if it affected their view of John Kerry. Lots said no. Okay some said no and it was true. However some said no, but it really did have a negative impact on their assessment of John Kerry because they were unaware of their subconscious negative feelings. I think it could be ferreted out by seeing in those polls that Kerry's negatives went up in general or specific even if not many thought it would have an effect on their opinion.

I know this makes it harder for pollsters to assess just how an issue really drives a vote, but I do think it is a real one nevertheless.

I also believe Bush has the clear agenda - cut taxes for the rich, bankrupt the government, undermine the social security system, alienate the US, give away natural resources for his cronies, perpetuate the 'war on terror' as a campaign tool.


The NBC/WSJ Poll today has the same indications than the NDN poll about having Bush having a clear agenda and not Kerry.

But the same polls also say that more than 50 % of the sample wants to see major changes and another 30 % wants to see some changes.

It is a thing to have an agenda, it is another one for people to agree with your agenda.

Thanks for setting up the editing process. Excellent idea.

We can view the perceived lack of clarity in the Democrat's message as an opportunity. Despite the fact that people perceive the President as clearer - the race is even.

So, what the Democrats need to do is continue to attack to keep up the President's negatives, and point to a few things that they will do. Possible ideas: name a team to go to Iraq immediately after the invasion and start assessing the situation and assign them responsibility to negotiate with allies on what will happen. Clark's the obvious pick. Then let him fire away during the rest of the campaign.

Health care and jobs. Do the same.

But it is important to remember that negative campaigning is a lot easier than saying anything positive.

While this topic is of interest, it's another one of those questions that give an incomplete picture. Sure people believe Bush has a clear view of what he wants to do. The problem is that many people don't agree with that view or his plans.

Just because some people answer that question in a manner that appears to favor Bush doesn't mean it is a favorable rating. It's always harder for the challenger to communicate what he will do because he doesn't have a 3.5 year history and he isn't president NOW.

I believe I read earlier in the year that Matthew Dowd admitted that Bush needs to clear close to 40% of the Hispanic vote to win. If that's the bar he needs to meet, the number from the Southwest (showing Bush only pulling about 30%) must be very discouraging news for the Bush campaign.

Based upon this, it's no wonder why most polls show Kerry up in New Mexico (check out the 49-44 Kerry lead according to ARG result.) Kerry is going to win New Mexico in 2004 and it'll sure be for a lot more than 366 (or whatever) votes. Similarly, a formerly solid GOP state like Colorado now looks to be in play this year. Arizona still isn't totally out of reach either.

These changing demographics certainly portend very good things indeed for the Democrats in the 2008 election and beyond.

To piggyback slightly on what others are saying: Isn't the incumbent always going to have a built-in advantage on "clear agenda", simply because we've had four years of actions on which to base it? Even a challenger who puts forth stark, "bold" plans -- Reagan, e.g. -- is going to seem ill-defined next to someone whose record is out there for all to see.

It may be that Kerry has a bigger deficiency in this area, thanks to the "he's a flip-flopper" campaign (from both Bush and the press). He has a solid chance to correct this in the debates. But I'm not sure it's all that damaging, even if he can't break through to the degree we'd prefer. In the end -- as others have mentioned -- Bush's agenda is clear, defined, but not terribly popular. A vague sense of "I'll be different" could be just the ticket -- FDR ran on balancing the budget; Nixon rode his nebulous "secret plan" into the White House at a time when voters were surely alot clearer on the Democratic agenda. Sometimes being unpopular is enough by itself to lose the presidency.

1. Yes clarity..I check the K/E site everyday for it...
Still not there but getting to it

It has to be Lies. Incompetence in ______ Here's what we'll do bam bam bam..

It frustrates me NO end because it has been so obvious where this election was for the demos for so long and STILL we're not there yet

but getting there..hopefully I won't be saying the same thing on 10/1

2. Turning out hispanics ..the only thing more difficult is turning out Kerry's big vote in the 18-29 set

I agree. Kerry is receiving limited air time -- at most only at parity with Bush. This is precious little time to both defend himself and outline an agenda, especially with Kerry's slow, deliberate speaking style. Perhaps the better way is to not separate the attacks from the agenda, but present both in alternating fashion to present a clear contrast:

-- Bush will cut the deficit in half only by cutting popular programs and raiding social security (as he already has.
Kerry will cut the deficit by cutting corporate subsidies and scaling back govt spending (in a bipartisan agreement -- he has even offered to trim his own favorite programs) , making government more efficient and less bueracratic (the DLC has a good plan developed on its PPI site), and roll back tax cuts (no tax hikes for 98% of Americans! and 99% of businesses!).

Ok, that's such a mouthful! This is why Bush wins the air war. Talking about programs is boring and confusing American voters, while talking about values and avoiding specifics (like Bush has mastered) gets people nodding in agreement before they know what they are agreeing to.

But in these tight times of a middle class squeeze, frustration runs high and patience cuts short. Even if Edwards and Kerry have brilliantly detailed the troubles of the majority of Americans, the very people that will be helped the most might vote against their own interest if Bush can manage to convince them that Kerry will raise "our taxes". If the economy does gain traction again, the squeezed middle class must understand that Kerry will not raise taxes on the great 98% supermajority of Americans -- and that only the elite GOP base need worry about the ROLLBACKS, not hikes that Kerry wisely realizes is needed.

But the soundbite-seeking, ratings-hungry, corporate-controlled media will not help frame this issue any more accurately than they have. Take the initiative to defend our candidate, the one that actually represents the interests of working class/middle class America -- not corporate boardrooms! Write editorial letters to your local newspapers. Write to widely read magazines with bipartisan audiences like Time, Newsweek, US News, etc. Write to faith-based periodicals and explain how Kerry is more faithful than Bush to church teachings on poverty prevention, limited use of military force, death penalty, worker's rights and unionization and a living wage, environmental protection and corporate responsibility. Take an active role in presenting the fair image of Kerry's agenda that the majority of the media is neglecting to portray.

Don't mourn, mobilize!

To echo both Carlie and demotm if I may,

The changing demographics in the southwest have actually made it very fertile ground for the Democrats, and I think we'll definitely see gains there for Kerry over Gore's numbers.

The challenger is always given, I think, a bit more latitude on what they would do as president than the incumbent. The FDR example demtom raised is a particularly good one. The public had only the vaguest idea about what FDR would actually do as president, but Hoover's well-known plan was simply unpopular.

This has always been Kerry's race to lose and, due to bad advice at the top, he is much closer to losing thatn he should be.
But, thankfully, he has finally decided to attack and to attack on the war. the more he attacks, the mosre clarity people will perceive in his position.
My concern now is how he will handle the debates because the debates may prove critical. Yes I know Kerry is bright, principled, articulate....those qualities are good in college debates but not helpful at all in election debates. I hope Kerry is studying Reagan's debate peformances--a smug smille and a few catch phrases are worth more than all the IQ points in the world. Bush is ignorant, weak, incoherent, a pathological liar, and a very good debater. He uses a sixth grade vocab., speaks in platitudes, looks earnest.....those are the winning skills. Brains and rectitude couldn't possibly be more irrelevant.
We are back to a tie. I believe Kerry's attacks will help him. But he has to plan for the debates and take Bush's skills seriously.

The "push" sections of the NDN poll were quite interesting. Howver, what answers you get depend on what you ask. It would have been more illuninating to see some more comparisions of tone/issue content combinations.

The most significant, surprising finding I thought was that about 20% of the electorate remains "persuadable"

The data is a bit dated but I don't think much has changed.

It will beginning next week begin to change dramatically,

I have a problem understanding the Hispanic vote, probably because it is CALLED "the Hispanic vote" and measured that way ...

Out here in CA, hispanics turnout in higher numbers and, impressionistically at least, seem to be more liberal.

Contrast Texas where the Hispanic population is less liberal but more importantly less politically efficacious.

I suspect nunuances throughout that make this population even more difficult to reach with an homogenized "hispanic" message...

A little knowledge being a dangerous thing, consider me so



Bush: “I saw a poll that said the right track wrong track in Iraq was better than here America.”

Narrator: “The right track? Americans are being kidnapped, held hostage, even beheaded. Over a thousand American soldiers have died. And George Bush has no plan to get us out of Iraq. John Kerry does. The Kerry solution: Allies share the burden. Train Iraqis to protect themselves. John Kerry. A new direction in Iraq.”

John Kerry: “I'm John Kerry and I approved this message.”