Sunday, October 31, 2004
PUNDIT PREDICTION ROUND UP:
Here's a round up of the pundit predictions on this year's election, in alphabetical order:

Pundit
Bush
Kerry
Fred Barnes - Weekly Standard
306
232
Tony Blankley - Washington Times
Bush Win
Donna Brazile - Dem Strategist
241
297
Pat Buchanan - MSNBC
Bush Win
Margaret Carlson - Time
264
274
Tucker Carlson - CNN
260
278
Eleanor Clift - Newsweek
Kerry Win
Charlie Cook - Cook Political Report
271
267
Terry Eastland - Weekly Standard
296
243
Peter Hart - Hart Research Assoc.
261
277
Al Hunt - Wall Street Journal
259
279
Bill Kristol - Weekly Standard
348
190
Bill McInturff - Public Opinion Strat
278
260
John McLaughlin - McLaughlin Group
Kerry Win
Bob Novak - Chicago Sun-Times
301
237
Kate O'Beirne - National Review
297
241
Lawrence O'Donnell - MSNBC
Kerry Win
Mark Shields - CNN
257
281
Tony Snow - Fox News
280
258

No big surprises, except for Tucker Carlson who predicts a Kerry win. - T. Bevan 2:24 pm Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Thursday, October 28 2004
BONES TO PICK:
We've been so busy posting polls that it' been difficult to find time to write. But I've got a couple of bones to pick with two columns that ran in the Washington Post yesterday and today.

Let's start with Richard Cohen. Just a scant five weeks ago Cohen was proclaiming himself "Purple and Proud Of It" and chastising fellow liberals for their Bush hatred and hyperbole:

"I nevertheless cannot bring myself to hate Bush or, as someone here told me, to consider his possible reelection as a reason to leave the country. In fact, Bush haters go so far they wind up adding a dash of red to my blue, pushing me by revulsion into a color I otherwise would not have....

I bump into these anti-Bush alarmists all the time. Recently an extremely successful and erudite man I much admire told me he viewed the upcoming election as something akin to September 1939, the time when World War II started and, among other things, European Jewry was all but snuffed out. I add that bit about the Holocaust because the man I was talking to had been born a European Jew. I could hardly believe my ears."

What a difference a month makes. In today's column Cohen far surpasses the paranoid, hyperbolic Bush-haters he mocked in his previous column. He says the Vice President of the United States has "morphed into the enemy." He compares the war on terror to a "crusade" and George W. Bush to Pope Urban II.

Last, but certainly not least, Cohen argues that George W. Bush should be impeached, and that if Cohen had his way each article of impeachment would contain the name of a United States soldier killed in action. This sentence in particular reeks to high heaven:

"Well over 1,000 Americans and countless more Iraqis have died because the president insisted on going to war."

Let's review some facts: after September 11 the President insisted that Saddam Hussein fully disclose and disarm. The United Nations Security Council unanimously agreed. So did Richard Cohen, John Kerry, John Edwards, and a host of others. War came as a result of Saddam's unwillingness to comply to these demands, and the deaths of any and all U.S. servicemen and Iraqi civilians fall on his shoulders alone.

War is a difficult, heart wrenching thing. Cohen's column is yet more proof that liberals just don't get it. They mistake Bush's resolve for lack of compassion. They mistake his courage to do what is necessary for obstinate unilateralism. Worst of all, they now seek to use the deaths of U.S. soldiers as leverage to blame the President and drive him from office, yet still would have our enemies believe that they have the will and the strength to continue the fight against terrorism.

Bone number two is from Harold Meyerson's column yesterday:

Time was when Republicans were at least embarrassed by their efforts to keep African Americans from the polls....

For George W. Bush, Karl Rove and their legion of genteel thugs, however, universal suffrage is just one more musty liberal ideal that threatens conservative rule. Today's Republicans have elevated vote suppression from a dirty secret to a public norm.

Does it strike anyone else as ironic that Meyerson can pen these vicious untruths and then spend rest of his column whining about how George W. Bush is responsible for dividing America? Mr. Meyerson needs to spend a good long time staring in the mirror.

But let's talk about the substance of Meyerson's charges, because they are important. Meyerson asserts that having GOP election monitors in heavily African-American precincts in Ohio is a racist strategy aimed at intimidating and ultimately suppressing African-American turnout - despite the fact that these precincts (irrespective of racial composition) are where Democrats have signed up the most new voters and where the potential for vote fraud is greatest.

Most rational people understand that we have to strike a balance - albeit a delicate one - between making it as easy as possible for people to vote and also monitoring the process and enforcing election laws. The balance between ballot access and ballot integrity is always difficult, not only because of partisanship but also the varying election laws between (and even within) the different states.

But when people like Meyerson start hopping up and down screeching "racism" and "voter suppression" whenever ANY measure is proposed to protect the integrity of the system (whether that be monitors, showing ID or proof of residency, etc) it makes you wonder if they're concerned about anything other than winning at whatever cost.

ANDREW HAS LOST IT: I don't begrudge Andrew Sullivan for having a number of qualms with President Bush. His criticisms of the administration's handling of the war are certainly within reason, even if I personally disagree with many of them. What isn't within reason, however, is this assertion:

"Domestically, Kerry is clearly Bush's fiscal superior."

This is, to put it mildly, insane. As a fiscal conservative am I disappointed in the performance of the Congress and the President's unwillingness to take a tougher line on spending by using his veto power? Of course.

But that doesn't lead me to the conclusion that a person with John Kerry's past record, his future proposals, and his deep-seated ideological beliefs about the role of the federal government is going to work to hold a tougher line on spending than Bush. You can force yourself to believe white is black and black is white, but that don't make it so.

To his credit, Sullivan goes on to make the much more rational argument that a return to better fiscal discipline is more likely with a divided Congress:

"Kerry will also almost certainly face a Republican House, curtailing his worst liberal tendencies, especially in fiscal matters. Perhaps it will take a Democratic president to ratchet the Republican party back to its fiscally responsible legacy. I'll take what I can get."

Fine. But the idea that we would want or need a Republican Congress to rein in Kerry's "liberal tendencies" in fiscal matters is basically a repudiation of the previous statement that Kerry is "clearly Bush's fiscal superior."

Sullivan also raps Bush because he "failed to grapple with entitlement reform, as he once promised." Huh? Less than three months into his Presidency Bush established a blue-ribbon commission to study Social Security reform. Hearings began in June 2001 and ran through December (even despite that little thing that happened in September) producing a final report with recommendations.

Sullivan is free to bemoan the fact that these recommendations didn't get implemented in the face of a national security crisis and a recalcitrant Democratic minority forcing a sixty-vote majority in the United States Senate to do any business whatsoever.

But again, at least the President's gut instinct is to push for much needed reform, as opposed to Senator Kerry's insistence that the current Social Security system is just A-OK for the next forty years provided we just raise taxes on the rich.

In the end, however, critiques of fiscal discipline and entitlement reform are little more than noise. The vote next Tuesday is about Iraq, terrorism, and U.S. national security and whether John Kerry or George Bush is better equipped to lead us forward in what is unquestionably a very dangerous world.- T. Bevan 2:24 pm Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Wednesday, October 27 2004
THE HARRIS POLL: Lots of emails regarding the new Harris Interactive Poll released today showing John Kerry leading George Bush by one point among likely voters, 48-47.

Just to clarify, this is an ONLINE poll, not a standard telephone survey, which is why we do not have it included in our average. - T. Bevan 1:24 pm

DO WE KNOW WHAT WE'RE FIGHTING FOR?: Here are some very strange results from two questions at the very end of the most recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll:

24. In view of the developments since we first sent our troops to Iraq, do you think the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq, or not?
Yes No No Opinion
47 51 2
26. Do you feel that you have a clear idea of what the war in Iraq is all about--that is, what we are fighting for?
Yes No No Opinion
70 28 2

I have no idea what this means. Nearly half the country now thinks Iraq is a mistake, yet seven out of ten say they have a clear idea of what we're fighting for there.

I suppose you could attribute at least a few percentage points to some hard core lefties who think they're quite clear on what we're fighting for and it's not something they approve of - like oil or American imperialism.

Maybe another point or two believes we are fighting to establish democracy in Iraq - which we most certainly are doing - but separates that particular task from battling global terrorism and thus concludes that establishing a democracy in Iraq is simply not worth doing.

Beyond those two reed-thin observations I'm at a loss to explain this gap, except to say that perhaps people know deep in their gut the stakes and importance of what we're doing but at least a portion of the public has become convinced through the incessant drumbeat of negative news and imagery in the mainstream media that Iraq is a mistake anyway. - T. Bevan 5:24 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Tuesday, October 26 2004
QUESTIONS WORTH PONDERING:
1) IS HAWAII IN PLAY?: Michael Barone says "yes", and it's never a good thing to find yourself disagreeing with someone who knows as much about politics as Barone. As a result of the two recent polls we've moved Hawaii to "leaning Kerry" from the "solid Kerry" column, but we're going to need to see a big move toward the President in the national polls or more state polling confirming these two numbers before we would be willing to make Hawaii a "toss up."

2) IS ARKANSAS IN PLAY? The last three polls show the race in Arkansas surprisingly close, including a new poll from Opinion Research Associates which has the race tied. But two follow up stories on the internals from the OPA poll are worth noting.

First, sixty-three percent of voters in Arkansas list the issue of gay marriage as "somewhat" or "very important." In a previous OPA poll taken just two weeks ago 80% of those surveyed were in favor of Amendment 3 which would define marriage as only between one man and one woman. Second, "60 percent of voters think a candidate's stand on gun rights is important in deciding how to vote in the presidential race."

It's hard to see how John Kerry is going to pull off an upset in Arkansas with these issues being such a prominent part of the mix this election. Like Hawaii in reverse, we would need to see major movement towards Kerry in the national polls or a couple more state polls before we would believe Arkansas is really in play, Bubba or not.

3) WILL AFRICAN-AMERICANS TURN OUT FOR KERRY? This is obviously one of the keys to the election and deserves to be discussed in much more detail. We've all seen the recent poll showing Bush with nearly double the African-American support he got in 2000 and Kerry running about eleven points worse than Gore. Now comes this from today's St. Petersburg Times:

Anything but strong turnout and overwhelming African-American support for Kerry could doom his chances. In 2000, record black turnout in Florida helped turn Florida into a virtual tie that took Republicans by surprise. This year, the mobilization effort is far greater, with a major focus on getting people to vote early.

But for all the anecdotal evidence of heavy African-American turnout, there are hints that Kerry might not be doing as strongly as he needs to be. At a John Edwards rally in St. Petersburg on Saturday, white people held "African-Americans for Kerry-Edwards" placards.

A St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald poll released Sunday showed Bush more than doubling his support from black voters since 2000, with 19 percent support. That estimate is imprecise because the pollsters surveyed fewer than 100 likely black voters in Florida, and the Kerry-Edwards campaign says its internal polling never shows Bush in double digits. But it mirrors a national poll released last week showing 18 percent of African-Americans backing Bush.

Kerry's ability to turnout the black vote in big numbers is infinitely more important to his candidacy than it is for Bush to win an extra three percent support among African-American voters this year. If the trends we're seeing are real, then Kerry's inability to generate enthusiasm for him - as opposed to just stoking antipathy toward his opponent - could cost him precious votes in important battleground states. - T. Bevan 8:24 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Monday,October 25 2004
TIPP CORRECTION:
Earlier today TIPP sent us their polling results which had the three way number Bush 50, Kerry 42, Nader 2 and the head-to-head number was Bush 50, Kerry 42. Just now TIPP has informed us the two way information is wrong, and that the accurate head-to-head number for the tracking dates 10/21-10/24 is Bush 48, Kerry 41. J. McIntyre 2:12 pm

ELECTORAL COLLEGE UPDATE:
President Bush continues to maintain a structural edge in the Electoral College that has worked to his advantage this entire campaign. However, the states that are producing that advantage have shifted since the summer.

In our initial electoral analysis we suggested that the election would boil down to Florida and Ohio, with Kerry having to win one of those two states and President Bush simply needing to carry them both to gain reelection. At the time we suggested that one of the President 's advantages was the possibility of offsetting a loss in Ohio or Florida by poaching some of the Gore states (IA, WI, MN NM, and OR), giving the President an alternate option of collecting an EC majority that Senator Kerry really never had.

As of today this alternate option, if necessary, for President Bush is starting to look more and more like a very real possibility. Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and New Mexico are fully in play: eight days before the election Bush holds leads in the RCP State Averages in all four of these states. This is seriously complicating Kerry's strategy in getting to 270 Electoral Votes. Conventional wisdom for months, including RCP's, had been that whoever won two of the "big three" Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida would almost certainly become President.

While it may still be likely that whoever carries two out of those three will win the election, it is not the cut and dry proposition it was earlier. President Bush can offset a loss in Ohio (and New Hampshire) by carrying Wisconsin and either Iowa, New Mexico or Minnesota. He can offset a loss in Florida (and New Hampshire), by winning three of those four states. Winning Wisconsin, Iowa, Maine's 1 Electoral Vote and holding New Hampshire would also allow President Bush to gain reelection while losing Florida.

Turning the conventional wisdom completely on its head President Bush could even lose all three of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida and still win, as long as he was able to flip Michigan. Granted, it's difficult to imagine a scenario where Kerry would win Pennsylvania and Ohio yet lose Michigan, but with a poll in Michigan showing the President ahead by five and Mason-Dixon calling it a one point race, coupled with a gay marriage initiative and Ralph Nader on the ballot (unlike PA and OH), it's not totally impossible. In this scenario Bush victories in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin could offset the loss of Florida's 27 Electoral Votes and Michigan would offset a loss in Ohio, leaving Kerry with a measly three electoral vote pick up.

While the Michigan option is a little far-fetched the other two are not. The problem for Senator Kerry is he has no backup plan to not winning in either Florida or Ohio. The problem for President Bush is that Kerry is still very much alive in both those states. All of Bush's backup Electoral scenarios will be irrelevant if he loses FL and OH and Kerry hangs on to PA and MI.

As the race sits today, the President holds roughly a three point lead in the national race. At the state level, using the RCP state averages to allocate the Electoral College, President Bush would win 306 - 232. However, the final movement in the national polls will have an exaggerated effect on that electoral tally. If Bush starts to pull away this week and can close strong building back toward his 5-7 point lead of September, that Electoral number could easily expand to 352 - 186. A small tightening towards Kerry in the final days from where we are today would indicate a dead heat race, where many of those electoral scenarios mentioned above could very well come into play. A strong break towards Kerry and most of these states would flip his direction leading to something like a 311 - 227 Kerry win.

Keep an eye on the RCP National Average. Eight days out it shows Bush ahead by roughly three points. Where that number is a week from today will be the best tell on how this race will turnout. J. McIntyre 11:28 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

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