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New Democracy Corps Poll Finds Substantial Gains For Kerry as Result of First Debate

A new and methodologically innovative survey of 1318 likely voters who watched the first debate confirmed that John Kerry won a decisive victory in that encounter. In this sample, much larger and more statistically reliable then the smaller surveys conducted by ABC, CBS and CNN on Thursday night, Kerry was judged the victor by a margin of 45 to 32, confirming the trends found in the earlier polls.

Kerry’s victory resulted in a significant tightening of the overall race. While George W. Bush’s support remained at 50% both before and after the debate, Kerry’s support rose from 46% to 48%, significantly closing the gap between him and the president.

More important, the survey, conducted by Democracy Corps in coordination with Knowledge Networks, found that had Kerry substantially improved his image among voters in four key respects. The following quotes from the study’s summary and analysis indicate the scope of Kerry’s gains:

1. Kerry made major gains on personal favorability. John Kerry’s performance was very well received by the debate watchers, who gave him a 7-point increase in his thermometer score (up 8 points in “warm” responses and down 5 points in “cool” responses).

2. Kerry achieved broad increases on the issues pertinent to the debate. In a debate that covered issues that were considered by many to be Bush’s strongest points, John Kerry realized major gains. Kerry gained 9 points on who will do a better job on homeland security, 8 points on the war on terrorism, and 3 points on Iraq.

3. With the opportunity to be heard unfiltered for the first time since his convention, Kerry broke through on leadership qualities. Polling by Democracy Corps and other outlets has clearly demonstrated that consistent attacks by Bush and his allies have led to significant losses for Kerry on key measures of personal strength and leadership over the last two months. But after seeing Kerry’s
performance in this debate, likely voters gave him increases of 11 points on having good plans for Iraq, 9 points on strong leader, and 9 points on having confidence in him.

4. The critical bloc of Independent voters moved considerably toward John Kerry. Kerry’s most notable achievement of the night was the vote shift among Independents where his vote increased 4 points from 50 to 54 percent while Bush’s vote dropped 3 points from 45 to 42 percent. Kerry’s favorability among independents jumped 12 points, and he addressed many of their concerns, both on security - up 10 points on making America safer and more secure, and 16 points on having good plans for Iraq - and leadership qualities - up 13 points on strong leader, up 10 points in having confidence in him, and a drop of 11 points on flip-flopping.

Taken together these improvement in Kerry’s image and position have dramatically transformed the race, making the two remaining debates potentially decisive encounters.


"...opportunity to be heard unfiltered for the first time since his convention..."

That's the key phrase and it's why candidates leading in polls avoid debates with challengers: Unfiltered, the latter may look better than the opponent. Also, each is exposed to the other's supporters.

Ruy and other experts tell us that it's always about the incumbent. Do the voters want to keep him or fire him? It's easy to fire him if the alternative looks better. Carter, Bush pere, Ford were all fired by the voters. They became unpopular and the challenger looked like a good alternative.

Zogby still thinks it's Kerry's to lose and that was before the debates. He says only 1 in 5 independents say Bush deserves reelection; and Bush has the net negatives that have historically spelled defeat for an incumbent.

All that said, I think it's highly probable that the Rove gang will pull something -- or combination of things -- big. If I were a general or colonel in the Kerry camp, I'd have people brainstorming possible Rove tactics and counter-tactics for them.

Let's set realistic expectations. The debate was a great thing, but a single debate is unlikely to fundamentally alter the race. Don't expect a big change in the poll numbers come Sunday. It will take the cumulative effect of the three debates, and Kerry's ability to neutralize the certain Bush/Rove October surprise, to alter the dynamics of this race. Kerry is still the underdog.

I think it's most important for campaigners to turn this positive analysis into new democratics and a strong November turnout

The core Bush vote is undetered by his poor debate performance.


Vote Kerry!

IMO, The ultimate winner of a debate is often not known within the first 24 hour spin cycle, if only because words are often said which takes days and even weeks to fact check and play out. In many ways, the candidate that comes across as more glib may not necessarily be the one standing at the end.

While Sen Kerry, by most accounts, came across as the most polished, he may have inadvertently laid down a few live hand grenades that will go off as the days and weeks progress - Including exaggerating about NYC subway closures, the Global Test remark and confusing a Nazi death camp with a former USSR KGB prison.

Mistakes and prevarications are often not caught at the time they are spoken during the debate in real time, but partisan fact checkers stand at the ready as soon as the debate is over to catch blatant lies or misstatements after the fact. And that is where Kerry is vulnerable right now it would appear.

I do have a question for the DNC and Kerry: Based on the following editorial in the Wash Post, Couldn't you guys have waited at least until the debate STARTED before sending out form letters saying Kerry won. Sheeessh!


Washington Post
Saturday, October 2, 2004; Page A20

To Our Readers (and Writers)

WE RECEIVED THE following letter from a woman in Yonkers, N.Y.: "Dear editor: This debate made it clear: John Kerry is a leader we can trust to tell us the truth when it comes to our nation's security. George Bush has had his chance; I'm ready for a new direction."

Cogent, succinct, personal -- everything we look for in a letter. So why are we writing about it here, instead of publishing it in the columns to the right? Unfortunately, the letter, perfect in every other way, arrived in our electronic in-box Thursday afternoon, four hours and 14 minutes before debate moderator Jim Lehrer posed his first question.

The reader in Yonkers was just one of many hundreds of people who took advice, and often text, from partisan Web sites in sending us debate-related letters. Democratic National Committee Chairman Terence R. McAuliffe, for example, sent e-mails to supporters saying, "Immediately after the debate, go online and write a letter to the editor of your local paper. If you feel John Kerry commanded the debate and had a clear plan for fixing the mess in Iraq, put it in your letter. If you feel George Bush dodged tough questions on Iraq and didn't level with voters, put it in your letter." In 2000, "Republicans stole the post-debate spin," Mr. McAuliffe said, and an avalanche of letters would help prevent a recurrence. He then thoughtfully provided a sample letter, ready to be copied and pasted, as well as easy ways to find The Post's and other newspapers' e-mail addresses.

Not many readers responded so enthusiastically to Mr. McAuliffe as to give us their reviews before the debate took place, but many began weighing in during and after the debate; certain phrases began cropping up again and again.

Now, we love to hear from readers, and we admire the sincerity and passion of anyone who wants to get involved in the political process. But our goal is to present a sampling of genuine reader opinion, not to become one more battlefield in the spin wars raging all around. And we especially like to hear from readers who can think and write for themselves.

Truly beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I have heard of many Bush supporters -- after watching that fiasco for their side -- who still say Bush is the better president because he is "right" on the issues. Even though he cannot articulate them very well.

The bigger question is how do these "debate" polls relate to the "vote" polls? Is it correct that all the LV polls do not include new voters? It seems that if Kerry is going to overcome the LV polls, it has to be there.


Americans Say No to Unilateralism
By Jim Lobe, AlterNet
Posted on September 30, 2004, Printed on October 2, 2004
Despite his standing in the polls, George Bush's post-9/11 foreign policy views are broadly rejected by both the average American and by public leaders, according to a major new survey released Tuesday by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations (CCFR).

The survey, titled "Global Views 2004: American Public Opinion and Foreign Policy,' found that 76 percent of the general public reject the notion that Washington should play the role of world policeman and 80 percent believe that the U.S. is currently playing that role "more than it should be."

The results reflect the views of nearly 1,200 randomly selected members of the public and of 450 "leaders with foreign policy power, specialization, and expertise," including U.S. lawmakers and their senior staff, religious, business and labor leaders, senior administration officials, heads of major foreign policy organizations and lobby groups, and university professors and journalists who make foreign policy their main focus.

The survey, which was conducted in July, shows that all Americans - be it the layperson or a policy leader – much prefer multilateral solutions to foreign-policy problems to the more unilateral approach that has dominated the Bush administration.

Asked what is the more important lesson from the 9/11 attacks, 73 percent of the public said, "The U.S. needs to work more closely with other countries to fight terrorism," as opposed to 23 percent who said it "needs to act on its own more..." Among the leaders, who were surveyed separately, the margin in favor of multilateralism was even larger: 84 percent, as opposed to the mere nine percent who called for more unilateral action.

Support among both groups for strengthening the United Nations is particularly high, especially when compared to the results of the 2002 CCFR survey.

Great post - EXCEPT for your last line. The next two debates are not "potentially decisive". That adopts the latest press corp attempt to downplay the significance of Kerry's performance and Bush's ineptitude. As documented on media matters, (let alone virtually all the blogs) Everyone agreed, probably rightly so, that this debate was critical to Kerry's chances on election eve. Now that he surpassed all reasonable hopes, let alone expectations, the SCLM downplays the significance of his performance.

Look again at these numbers - Leading 54/42 among "independents" is decisive. It is consistent with earlier polling showing that the demographic makeup and opinions of the undecideds/independents has been favorable for Kerry for months. Look at the focus group from Missouri that Hart did a couple weeks ago - most (8/12) were anti Bush, but kerry did not command a majority - at least 3-4 of them wanted to hear more.

Kerry has now shown, on the key issue of this election, that he has the gravitas to be commander in chief. As Reagan did in 1980, he has allayed the fears of the swing voters.

The next debates are "decisive" for one reason - Kerry has to do more of the same and not support the Bush caricature of him - he must continue to appear decisive, competent, confident. For Bush, the stakes are much higher - he now has to convince this same group that the doubts about him that they have harbored for months - before any of them knew who his opponent would be - are ill considered and wrong. Any lawyer will tell you that changing someone's mind is much harder than convincing them that they are already right.

I dont mean that the KE04 campaign should be over confident, etc. Kerry must continue to do what he did since the RNC. But from here on out - it is Bush who has the tougher job. If the trends stay as they are, and absent some unpredictable event/catastrophe, Kerry will win 13 of the 17 swing states, over 300 evs and 52% of the popular vote.

I'm glad these numbers are finally out, because I hope they start getting coverage in the media. Although I think Kerry will do well in the next two debates, the most decisive debate for us will be the vice presidential one. It's like...a young FDR versus an evil Mondale/Dole. If Kerry and Edwards can just get the word out about the vice presidential debate so that a fair number of people watch it, then the typically low profile veep debate could also have a positive effect on Kerry's numbers.

It is of concern that the Democracy Corps poll has
Bush at 50%. Once an incumbent gets to that , can it go down?

Are you aware of Chris Bowers work at MyDD on Party ID. His thesis is that while party ID among D's and R's are stable; what changes is the movement from Ind. back and forth from Dem to Rep. There are 3 categories within party ID - strong, weak and Ind. leaning Dems and Reps.
The %age of truly Ind. is very small @11% and it often turns out they don't vote. He therefore feels that Karl Rove has been right to pursue the strategy of appealling to and turning out the base.

So appealling to the Ind. may not be as fruitful as the Kerry campaign thinks. That shoring up and firing up the base of the Dem party is perhaps more important than going for Inds.

>Now, we love to hear from readers, and we admire the sincerity and passion of anyone who wants to get involved in the political process. But our goal is to present a sampling of genuine reader opinion, not to become one more battlefield in the spin wars raging all around. And we especially like to hear from readers who can think and write for themselves.

Smooth Jazz, I saw a few of those from the other side as well. "George W. Bush came across like a relaxed Everyman who I could relate to!" I agree that it's tacky to send a letter before a debate; sort of like AP correspondents who post articles about speeches or debates before they happen.

They are starting to air commercials on this new "Kerry Doctrine": Requiring permission from other countries and passing some form of international test (hopefully not IN French or German) before we can defend ourselves. This is not good from Sen Kerry's perspective, since undecided voters in swing states may not want to mortgage our right of self defense to foreign capitals or the UN.

The Bush camp appears to have settled on a masterful strategy: Concede the style aspect of the 1-to-1 encounters knowing their guy is not glib, but zero in on Kerry's words, and zing him during the debate's intervening days. And Kerry has given these guys enough ammo to hammer him all week.

Also, We're taking control of Samarra, Al Sadr wants to join the political process, and the President has the ultimate domestic fiscal policy photo op on Mon - The signing of the new tax cut bill in Iowa. Kerry will need to do a lot to keep up.

Associated Press
Oct 2, 4:59 PM EDT

Bush Attacks Kerry on National Security


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- President Bush on Saturday ridiculed what he called the "Kerry doctrine" as a dangerous outsourcing of America's security, seeking to poke a hole in Sen. John Kerry's debate performance with what advisers see as his rival's biggest miscue.

"When he laid out the Kerry doctrine, he said that America has to pass a global test before we can use American troops to defend ourselves," Bush said, drawing loud boos from a friendly crowd at a National Association of Home Builders meeting. "When our country is in danger, it is not the president's job to take an international poll, the president's job is to defend America."

In the debate, Kerry said he supported the right of a president to order a pre-emptive strike to protect the country but, he added, it must pass "the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing, and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons."

Two days after a debate that focused on the Iraq war and the anti-terror-battle, the stated theme of Bush's 27th visit to this battleground state was his economic record and plan to encourage an "ownership society."

Bush's agenda includes partial privatization of Social Security, tax-deductible personal accounts to cover health care expenses, and proposals to increase homeownership. Bush cast Kerry as a friend to big government who is obstructing such proposals that would provide Americans with "more freedom and more control over your own life."

"Instead, his agenda focuses on expanding the scope and power of government," Bush said. "He's decided to put his faith in the wisdom of the government. I will always put my faith in the wisdom of the American people."

Kerry has presented himself as a business-friendly Democrat, and he often criticizes the Bush administration for the first job-loss record since the Depression.

The renewed focus on bread-and-butter economic issues came exactly one month from the Nov. 2 election. "Who's counting?" Bush joked.

Bush narrowly won Ohio in 2000. The state has lost 237,400 jobs since he took office and has an unemployment rate of 6.3 percent. Recent polling shows a virtual tie between Bush and Kerry as they compete for Ohio's 20 electoral votes.

The president's appearance before the home builders in Columbus served as a reminder of one of the stalwarts of the economy: a strong housing market during Bush's presidency has been one of the main engine of economic growth. But Bush's star-spangled bus entourage also stopped in Mansfield, a small central-Ohio city that got bad news the day before the president's arrival when a local manufacturer announced it would shut a facility.

Even with the economy on center stage, Bush aides made clear the campaign would continue to pounce on several remarks Kerry made Thursday night, in hopes of shifting the perception that the Democrat emerged the victor and turning talk away from Bush's grimacing during the encounter.

Confident that Americans are offended at any notion of allowing other countries to make U.S. national security decisions, the campaign rolled out a television ad on Saturday that sought to inflict damage on Kerry for his "global test" comment. "A global test: So America will be forced to wait while threats gather?" it intones.

And, refining a line of attack he first rolled out Friday in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, Bush said: "I'll continue to work every day with our friends and allies for the sake of freedom and peace. But our national security decisions will be made in the Oval Office, not in foreign capitals."

That suggestion - and use of the word "doctrine" - incensed the Kerry camp. Kerry foreign policy adviser and former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke said Kerry was saying nothing new, just articulating long-standing U.S. policy that asserts the right to launch a pre-emptive strike but recognizes the need to back up such a move by facts and present those to allies.

"It is astounding that he is making things up when he should be detailing a plan to stabilize the situation in Iraq," Kerry sp

Smooth Jazz, Republican spin might get a bit buried under the results of the latest Newsweek poll -- Kerry leads Bush.

Yes, Newsweek has its problems, but as the first poll out, it tends to get super-hyped by the media, at the expense of all other important or non-important issues.

It was pretty clear during the debate that Kerry clearly has a vision of how to build a coalition to contain and weaken terrorists. It was also clear that he thinks every day about the risks facing the world and that a "go it alone strategy" ultimately weakens our attempts to live safely as a nation among nations.

I think that sans soundbites Americans finally got to see the real man. I think that once Americans learn to listen to nuance and thought over soundbite and script that they will choose him as the next president.

Wilder, Do you know how many Dems VS Reps are included in the Newsweek poll?? If it's say 40 Dem, 30 Rep, 30 Rep, then it is as flawed as all the polls Ruy has ben hacking at - Except, of course, when they are in the Dems favor.

To be sure, I would not get too excited about 1 Newsweek poll of a few hundred people, especially after the Demo Corps and Rasmussen polls showing essentially no change.

I would let the new KERRY DOCTRINE sink in with voters, and wait for a few other polls to start uncorking the wine bottles again.

I'd like to point out that the term "Global Test" is a term of art in traditional Foreign Policy making circles, and the State Department has been doing it yearly ever since there was a state department, and I would imagine the Senate Foreign Relations Committee shares their analysis, but possibily does a little of its own.

It works like this: Every year the US National Interests get reviewed. These are reasonably simple statements that extablish priorities for US policy makers vis a vis the US relationship with any other country in the world, but also with international entities such as the UN, World Trade bodies, things like International Post and Telegraph commissions. In nearly 100% of the cases, the outline of US interests remains pretty much the same from year to year -- but when governments change -- yea, they get rewritten. Having finished the review of US interests -- the next step is to review the estimates of other countries interests not only just vis a vis the US -- but with regard to other regional or sub-national matters.

A Global Test then happens when you postulate taking some action with reference to another country. If X does such and such with reference to Y, what might the effect of this be on Z -- another country that has a relationship of some significance with Y.

This is just Basic Foreign Policy 101. A "Global Test" is how you evaluate any proposal not only for unanticipated outcomes, but also as a test of whether a proposal serves US Interests and Goals. It is not particularly clever -- most of it is unclassified -- and most of the people who "do it" formally are the desk officers in the State Department. It is, however, the core of the system.

I suppose it is too "Senate Foreign Relations Committee procss-speak" for some -- but it is how you evaluate -- should we negotiate this or that treaty wity Y -- or should we embargo technology to Y?

Bush also failed the global test of showing he can understand simple terms used for decades.

Any day I expect him to say "due process?" What kind of commonist propaganda is that?!"

If you could take what Bush really, actually, personally knows and use it in high school, you couldn't pass the school standards tests for graduation.

He's like a tent preacher, whose message relies on suspension of disbelief and religious fervor by largely ignorant people.

And I'm 98% sure of that, and when I'm 98% sure, I'm wrong less than one third of the time.