Saturday, November 6 2004
NO, THANK YOU:
We've been flooded with emails thanking us for our election coverage this year. We're going to try to respond to them all in due time, but since that might take a while I wanted to throw up a quick post to let people know how much we truly appreciate the support. It's been an incredibly long and intense year in the world of politics and it's been our pleasure to be a part of it and to add whatever we've been able to add to the process. We'd like to thank everyone who visited RCP, sent us emails, contributed to our efforts, referred us to friends, and supported the site in so many other various ways.

DAMN YOU, WISCONSIN!: We fell just short of perfection in our electoral college prediction this year thanks to 13,646 more Cheeseheads in Wisconsin voting for John Kerry than George Bush. I'll remember that next time I catch a game at Lambert Field.

Seriously, what is interesting about the result in Wisconsin this year is that it marks only the third time since 1928 that Wisconsin and Iowa have split their vote at the federal level.

In 1940, Iowa went for Republican Wendell Willkie by four points while Wisconsin went for FDR by only two. In 1976, Iowa stuck with Gerald Ford by a one point margin and Wisconsin went to Jimmy Carter by two points. Obviously, in all three instances Wisconsin has favored the Democrat and Iowa the Republican, and never the other way around.

The similarity in presidential voting patterns of these two states is even more pronounced if you just look the last four cycles:

State
1992
1996
2000
2004
IA
Clinton +6.0
Clinton +10.4
Gore +0.3
Bush +0.9
WI
Clinton +4.3
Clinton +10.3
Gore +0.2
Kerry +0.4

Add up the difference between the spread in these two states' voting results over the last four presidential elections and it's only 3.2%. That is simply amazing. Our final polling averages had both states going ever so slightly for Bush, and because of the history I was almost certain they would indeed fall together. Then again, that's why they play the game.

BROOKS IS THE MAN: David Brooks is one of the finest writers in America. He also happens to be one of the most astute watchers of politics and culture in the country. Today's column is a perfect example. Brooks explodes the furious post-election cocoon building we're seeing by liberals to try and rationalize away the significance of what happened on Tuesday:

But the same insularity that caused many liberals to lose touch with the rest of the country now causes them to simplify, misunderstand and condescend to the people who voted for Bush. If you want to understand why Democrats keep losing elections, just listen to some coastal and university town liberals talk about how conformist and intolerant people in Red America are. It makes you wonder: why is it that people who are completely closed-minded talk endlessly about how open-minded they are?

Indeed, if I were forced to pick one person to blame the Democrats' loss on Tuesday it wouldn't be John Kerry. I'd choose Michael Moore.

Moore certainly did a good job of using the anti-Bush anger on the left to sell movie tickets and make himself rich. In the process he became the de facto figurehead of the anti-Bush left and the Democrats' biggest mistake was allowing him inside the major party structure and making him a star at the DNC (not to mention attending the screening of F911 on Capitol Hill). In the end, it's impossible to quantify how much Moore helped motivate Democrats to turnout - or if he even helped at all.

On the other hand, I think Moore did a tremendous job at helping mobilize Republicans this year. You only have to think back to John McCain's speech at the RNC when he made a passing reference to Moore as "a disingenuous film maker." The roar inside Madison Square Garden was immediate and intense.

Republicans across the country went to the polls on Tuesday with an anger of their own. The increased turnout wasn't driven by some right-wing bigotry toward gays (as Brooks points out) but I believe a bitterness toward people like Michael Moore. Middle America was simply pissed off at listening to a fat schlub like Michael Moore and his ilk on the far left tell them how oppressive, greedy, militaristic, and imperialistic we are as a country and what a liar and a moron our President is.

And yet John Kerry still only lost the presidency by 130,000 votes in Ohio. The fact is Kerry ran a good campaign and made the most of what he had to work with. He glossed over his antiwar past, took full advantage of the debates, and made smart tactical decisions in allocating his resources. But the Democrats embrace of radical left over the past 24 months - from Howard Dean through Michael Moore - infuriated enough Republicans across the country, but especially in a place like Ohio, to overwhelm the Democratic turnout machine and give George W. Bush another four years in the White House.- T. Bevan 7:30 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Tuesday, November 2 2004
FLORIDA GOES, OHIO ON THE WAY:
Florida is called. Watching the updates on Ohio, Bush's lead has grown from around 131,000 votes to over 145,000. No telling which counties these ballots are coming in from, but it certainly looks as if the Dem GOTV in Cleveland and Toledo is coming up short. With 70% reporting in, time is running out for Kerry to turn it around. Anything could still happen, of course.
UPDATE: Of course, as soon as I say something, Kerry ticks up two points in Ohio! It's now 51-49 Bush with 74% in. Ohio is the whole ball game right now. We'll now soon enough. Stay tuned.....
-T. Bevan 11:01 pm

NC SENATE SEAT GOES REPUBLICAN: FOX has called it for Burr. And Vitter is hanging on at 51% in Louisiana with 75% reporting. - T. Bevan 9:59pm

THE FIRST BATTLEGROUND STATE FALLS: Pennsylvania goes to Kerry, and Specter defends his Senate seat. Florida is next to go, Bush is up 5 points with 89% reporting. That leaves Ohio. Bush is currently up 6 points with 46% reporting, but his lead is only 138,528 votes. Cuyahoga County, where the Democratic stronghold of Cleveland is, only has 33% reporting. Kerry currently has a 20-point lead in Cuyahoga, so Kerry can certainly make up a lot of ground there. - T. Bevan 9:57pm

SENATE UPDATE: So far, the GOP has picked up open seats in SC and GA, and held onto OK. Burr is up 6 on Bowles at the moment in NC and Bunning has pulled ahead of Mongiardo by two - at least for right now. Dems have picked up IL and Betty Castor is locked in a tie with Mel Martinez for the other open seat.

Daschle up four on Thune with 13 percent reporting. Last but not least, Coors is ahead of Salazar in CO, but only 1 percent has reported. - T. Bevan 8:57pm

BAD NUMBERS ? Why were the exit polls so badly off the mark? Why did it take the nets so long to make calls in places like VA, NC and SC? Read this from Kerry Spot:

LARRY SABATO SAYS EXIT POLLS C [11/02 09:29 PM]

Larry Sabato was just on one of the DC-area local stations, and just said something shocking - the reason it took forever to call Virginia, South Carolina, and North Carolina is that the exit polls had them for Kerry.

For Kerry!

Sabato also said that the exit polls also had at least two other states "wrong" — which is not to say they had the wrong winner, but that they had results that were immediately detected as out of whack.

If there was some sort of purposeful deception with the leaking of bogus exit polls, it would make Dan Rather and Memogate look like small potatoes. - T. Bevan 8:36pm

OK SENATE: Coburn beats Carson. - T. Bevan 7:39pm

FINALLY: Virginia and North Carolina go to Bush.

IN GOV: Daniels running ahead of Kernan by 11. It's done. - T. Bevan 7:35 pm

NO CALL IN SC?: Bush leads in South Carolina by 13 with 16% reporting but no call from the nets. Meanwhile, NJ called immediately.....
- T. Bevan 7:31pm

BUNNING IN KY SENATE BATTLE: This one looks like it will go down to the wire. - T. Bevan 7:03pm

THE SENATE: Bayh wins. We don't care about the Senate race, tell us who the new Governor is..... Oh yeah, Leahy won, so did Isakson. Bunning trails in early returns. - T. Bevan 6:22

VA: Get your updated Virginia numbers here. This very second it's Bush 54%, Kerry 46%. - T. Bevan 6:18pm

EXIT POLL INFO: This head-scratcher could be the story of the night:

"Exit polls suggested that slightly more voters trusted President George W. Bush to handle terrorism than Sen. John Kerry. But most voters said the country was headed in the wrong direction, and those voters overwhelmingly backed Kerry."

-T.Bevan 6:16pm

SC: Bush leading 55%-45% in South Carolina. The link is being updated constantly so don't blame me if the number has changed. - T. Bevan 6:10pm

FIRST BLOOD: CNN reports Bush wins Indiana, Kentucky and Georgia, Kerry wins in Vermont. - T. Bevan 6:05 pm

ELECTION COMMENTARY: Looks like we're in for a very long night - and possibly much, much longer. A couple of updates: Slate reports:

In the national exit poll, Kerry leads Bush 51-48. In Wisconsin he's up by three and in Ohio and Florida he leads by one.

Mark Halperin just said on ABC that exit polls showed Bush with a 51% job approval rating. -T. Bevan 6:01 pm

Monday, November 1 2004
THREE GENERAL TRENDS:
Where do things stand one day before the election? Very, very close. The national horse race numbers have gotten extremely tight, including a couple of polls in particular that don't bode well for President Bush. Gallup and Fox News (as of this morning) have shown movement toward John Kerry in the final days and now have the race dead even.

But as we've been loading all the various internal numbers from these polls into our averages I've gotten the sense there is another story, one which would seem on the surface to be much more in President Bush's favor.

Start with the generic Congressional vote. Right now the RCP Average has Republicans with a 0.5% advantage. If you track the change in each poll individually, with the exception of Gallup the movement seems to be favoring the GOP:

Generic Vote
Latest
Last
Net Chg
CNN/USAT/Gallup
Dem +1
(10/31)
GOP +3
(10/24)
Dem +4
NBC/WSJ
Dem +1
(10/31)
Dem +4
(9/19)
GOP +3
Battleground
GOP +2
(10/31)
Dem +1
( 10/28)
GOP +3
Newsweek
GOP +5
(10/29)
GOP+1
(10/22)
GOP +4
Democracy Corps (D)
Dem +2
(10/31)
Dem +9
(10/25)
GOP+7

In 2002, there was a dramatic move toward the GOP in the final days before the midterm election which was a harbinger of a big night for Republicans. This year the move is much smaller, and it isn't clear at all whether any favorable momentum in the generic congressional vote will benefit President Bush. It could very well be that Republicans have a good night on Tuesday in a lot of places - except at the top of the ticket. Nevertheless, movement toward the GOP is obviously more beneficial for President Bush than seeing the polls move against his party in the final days.

Now look at the latest right track/wrong track numbers:

Right Track/Wrong Track
Latest
Last
Net Chg
Marist
-8
(10/31)
-10
(10/19)
+2
CNN/USAT/Gallup (RV)
-9
(10/31)
-14
(10/14)
+5
NBC/WSJ
-6
(10/31)
-9
(10/18)
+3
CBS/NYT
-4
(10/30)
-18
( 10/17)
+14
Battleground
-11
(10/31)
-12
( 10/28)
+1
Newsweek
-17
(10/29)
-16
(10/22)
-1
Democracy Corps (D)
-6
(10/31)
-11
(10/25)
+5

With only one exception (Newsweek), the polls show people are generally feeling better about the direction of the country. The current RCP Right Track/Wrong Track spread stands at -8.0%, which is the first time it's been under negative double digits in quite some time.

I think it's widely accepted that the RT/WT number this year isn't as tightly correlated to the national popular vote as we've seen in the past. Because of the war in Iraq, terrorism and cultural issues like gay marriage, there is a certain level of anxiety in the country and even supporters of President Bush may respond that they feel like we're headed in the wrong direction.

Still, this question is usually asked among respondents using the loosest possible screen (either all adults or registered voters) so it does gauge the general mood of the country and it's certainly better for President Bush that the RT/WT number is improving heading into tomorrow as opposed to going in the other direction.

Lastly, look at Bush's job approval. Fifty percent is generally recognized as the "magic number" on job approval for incumbents to win reelection. As most of you know, this is because the job approval number traditionally correlates most closely with the candidate's final popular vote total. It also just makes common sense: a majority of the country is probably not going to vote a person out of office if they think that person is doing a decent job as President.

Right now the RCP Average of the 8 most recent polls taken over the last 5 days shows President Bush right on the cusp: 49.8%.

Among all job approval numbers, Gallup is generally seen as the "gold standard." In their final poll they have Bush at 51% job approval among likely voters but only 48% among registered voters.

But again, it's important to look at the change in these polls relative to each other to get a feel for which direction Bush's job approval number is heading:

Bush Job Approval
Latest
Last
Net Chg
Marist
50
(10/31)
49
(10/19)
+1
CNN/USAT/Gallup (LV)
51
(10/31)
54
(10/24)
-3
NBC/WSJ
49
(10/31)
49
(10/18)
nc
Battleground
53
(10/31)
53
( 10/28)
nc
CBS/NYT
49
(10/30)
44
( 10/17)
+5
Newsweek
46
(10/29)
46
(10/22)
nc
FOX News
49
(10/28)
49
(10/18)
nc
Democracy Corps (D)
49
(10/31)
48
(10/25)
+1

With the exception of Gallup (which as previously mentioned is a pretty big exception), Bush's job approval has held steady or increased across the other seven polls taken recently. Again, this may or may not be indicative of tomorrow's outcome, but as a general trend the President's job approval numbers seem to be working slightly in his favor.

I'll finish with the traditional caveats about these being national numbers (as opposed to key battleground state numbers) with small sample sizes, blah, blah, blah. Certainly this race will be won or lost in the trenches of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and the rest. But the to the extent we can use national polls as pieces of the overall picture and tools to find threads of commonality in the dynamics of this race, these three trends look favorable for President Bush despite the tightening in some of the horse race numbers. - T. Bevan 10:00 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

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