October 4 2004
IS THE KERRY COMEBACK ON TRACK?: Last week's debate
was a crucial point in this race. After a dismal eight-week
stretch through August and September, Democrats across the
country were demoralized and beginning to lose hope. Their
candidate was well behind in almost every major poll and
teetering on the edge of becoming a national joke and an
electoral embarrassment for the party.
look a bit different now. For the moment at least, Kerry
seems to be back in this race. Of the three polls taken
after the debate so far, two show significant movement toward
Kerry (Newsweek & Gallup) while one (Rasmussen) shows
little change. We should be seeing more polls in the coming
twenty four hours that will help us get a better feel for
the overall size and strength of the move toward Kerry following
other important question is whether Kerry can sustain whatever
bounce he may receive from the debate. If recent history
is any guide, Kerry's bump may be short lived.
the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, for instance. Back at the
beginning of July, Kerry received a six point net bump in
the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll upon naming John Edwards as
his Vice Presidential pick.
Poll (3-Way, LV)
- Kerry Picks Edwards As VP
- Democratic Nat'l Convention
the very next poll (whose sample started only eight days
after the previous poll ended) Kerry's lead over Bush slipped
back to only one point.
as you can see from the chart on the right, in the next
CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll taken right after the DNC, Kerry
lost another 7 points (net) to President Bush. In other
words, during the most positive six week run the Kerry campaign
has had thus far (long before the Swift Boat Veterans and
the RNC) Kerry was unable to make his bump stick.
will he be able to do it this time? I'll give you two reason
for and two reasons against:
#1 Kerry's Bump WILL Last: For the first
time in this race John Kerry looked presidential. That is
an important test to pass with many moderate and independent
voters who may have been ambivalent toward him or leaning
somewhat uncomfortably toward Bush.
#2 Kerry's Bump WILL Last: If you've ever
handicapped horses at the track you know to always look
closely at past performance. Whatever you might think of
John Kerry as a person, as a politician he is a "closer."
He did it against William Weld in 1996 and he did it again
last year after being left for dead in the Dem primary.
Even at the high water mark of his campaign in July, Kerry
was a lackluster, unfocused candidate. After last Thursday
night there is every reason to believe this is a different
John Kerry: more focused, more hungry, and someone who is
going to be a formidable challenger for President Bush over
the next 28 days.
#1 Kerry's Bump WON'T Last: Because despite
the image presented to the public for 90 minutes last Thursday
night, John Kerry is still an aloof, Northeastern elitist
and a generally unlikable character. And just as his favorability
ratings sank in every single poll after the Democratic National
Convention, he won't be able to maintain enough of an aura
of "likability" to be an electable alternative
to President Bush.
#2 Kerry's Bump WON'T Last: Kerry remains
an extremely vulnerable candidate on the issues of national
security and the War on Terror. Last Thursday Kerry made
a number of gaffes and exposed an internationalist world
view that a majority of Americans fundamentally disagree
with. So far those mistakes have flown more or less under
the radar, but they'll be exploited in the coming days (probably
starting tomorrow night with Dick Cheney) and erode whatever
gains Kerry made with voters in the most recent polls.
three debates and a month left to go, the only thing that's
certain about this race is that nothing is certain. There
are undoubtedly plenty of twists and turns left. - T.
Bevan 10:15 am Link
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