Thursday, November 11 2004
IT'S NEVER TOO SOON: I know we're all still recouping from last week, but for political junkies it's never too soon to sneak a peek at the next fix. Before we get to the races in 2006, remember that we will have Governor's races in New Jersey and Virginia on deck in 2005.

In 2006 there will be 36 Gubernatorial and 33 Senate races on the ballot. Here are the lists:

Gubernatorial Races (36)
State
Republicans (22)
State
Democrats (14)
AL
Riley
AZ
Napolitano
AK
Murkowski
IL
Blagojevich
AR
Trm Ltd/Open
IA
Vilsack
CA
Schwarzenegger
KS
Sebelius
CO
Trm Ltd/Open
ME
Baldacci
CT
Rell
MI
Granholm
FL
Trm Ltd/Open
NH*
Lynch
GA
Perdue
NM
Richardson
HI
Lingle
OK
Henry
ID
Trm Ltd/Open
OR
Kulongowski
MD
Ehrlich
PA
Rendell
MA
Romney
TN
Bredesen
MN
Pawlenty
WI
Doyle
NE
Trm Ltd/Open
WY
Freudenthal
NV
Trm Ltd/Open
   
NY
Pataki
   
OH
Trm Ltd/Open
   
RI
Carcieri
   
SC
Sanford
   
SD
Rounds
   
TX
Perry
   
VT*
Douglas
   
*Vermont & New Hampshire have two-year terms

Senate Races (33)
State
Republicans (15)
State
Democrats (17)
AZ
Kyl
CA
Feinstein
IN
Lugar
CT
Lieberman
ME
Snow
DE
Carper
MO
Talent
FL
Nelson
MS
Lott
HI
Akaka
MT
Burns
MD
Sarbanes
NV
Ensign
MA
Kennedy
OH
DeWine
MI
Stabenow
PA
Santorum
MN
Dayton
RI
Chafee
NE
Nelson
TN
Frist
NJ
Corzine
TX
Hutchinson
NM
Bingaman
UT
Hatch
NY
Clinton
VA
Allen
ND
Conrad
WY
Thomas
WA
Cantwell
   
WV
Byrd
   
WI
Kohl
   
State
Independents (1)
   
VT
Jeffords

Quick first impressions are that Republicans will have their work cut out for them defending Governor's mansions and will face strong challenges particularly in New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland and Hawaii, and in open seats in Arkansas, Colorado, Nevada and Ohio, to name a few. The Dems will have to defend in places like Arizona, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

On the Senate side, the playing field of competitive races looks a bit smaller, but the names that pop out are more problematic for the Dems. The GOP will likely target first-termers Mark Dayton in Minnesota and Debbie Stabenow in Michigan, as well as Maria Cantwell in Washington and Bill Nelson in Florida.

Other potential problems for Democrats include Robert Byrd of West Virginia who will be 89 years old in 2006. Aside from the possibility that age (and health) could become an issue, should Byrd choose not to run Democrats would face defending an open seat in a Republican-trending state.

Also, the latest word is that Jon Corzine is "inclined" to run for Governor of New Jersey in 2005 which would leave another open seat for the Democrats, though they probably have an edge in keeping it in the Democratic-leaning Garden State.

Finally, keep your eye on Ben Nelson in Nebraska and Kent Conrad in North Dakota. Both are relatively popular Democratic Senators in deep-red states, which is exactly what Tom Daschle was - and we know how that turned out.

As for the Democrats, the pickings look pretty slim. They probably feel their best chance is knocking off Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania. As a member of the Republican leadership and a conservative in a state that tilts slightly to the Democrats, unseating Santorum will be high on the list of the Dem priorities.

Another possibility is first-termer Jim Talent in Missouri. Talent beat Jean Carnahan by just over 20,000 votes in the 2002 special election for this seat, but he is in a much better position to win reelection in a state that leans Republican.

Beyond that Dems have to look to score an upset in a place like Montana or hope for some unforeseen event - like a retirement - to put more seats into play. Anything is possible, but given where things stand today their prospects don't look too promising.

All in all it should be a very entertaining midterm, especially given what happened last Tuesday and knowing that, at least for those incumbents in the Senate, this will be their first time standing for election after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. - T. Bevan 3:30 pm Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Wednesday, November 10 2004
MANDATE? NO. CONSEQUENTIAL? NO DOUBT ABOUT IT
: There has been a lot of back and forth over just how big President Bush's victory was and whether he now has a mandate.

Numerically, there really shouldn't be an argument. In the 29 elections since 1888, only four have been closer in the popular vote: 1960, 1968, 1976, and 2000. It's pretty hard to suggest some kind of national mandate when a difference of 135,000 votes in one single state - out of a country of nearly 300 million - would have changed the final outcome.

Tactically, it's easy to understand why the Bush Administration and Republicans are talking up the idea of a mandate, but you can't make a 51-48 race into some kind of FDR or Reagan landslide. A greater percentage of the population voted for John Kerry (48.1) in this election than voted for George W. Bush (47.9) in 2000. This was not a mandate.

In many ways this is what is so infuriating to the Democrats, because they know President Bush is going to govern and lead as if he has a mandate. That is why the Democrats and their friends in the mainstream media or the "old media" put everything they had into this election to unseat George W. Bush.

This was the equivalent of The Alamo for the mainstream media. CBS News and the New York Times, and to a lesser extent their colleagues at the other major networks and newspapers, exhausted themselves in a near-pathological desire to remove George W. Bush from office. They know the days of the liberal elites in New York and Washington setting the news agenda for the American people are coming to an end. Which is why they fought so hard to eliminate President Bush and restore a Democrat to the White House.

The Democratic Party and its allies were no less aggressive. George Soros and his billions, the 527's and their millions, Michael Moore and his propaganda "documentary" - all were thrown at this president in the most comprehensive, coordinated attack ever marshaled to defeat a sitting president.

The Democratic Party registered more voters than ever before, got more people to the polls than any time in history, and far exceeded their numbers and goals. And at the end of the day, it was all for naught. George W. Bush steamrolled to a majority of the vote while picking up 4 critical Senate seats and expanding the GOP's margin in the House.

This is why the Democrats are apoplectic and find themselves staring into the abyss. They know they gave it everything they had and it wasn't enough to defeat the Bush Juggernaut. And they know they are left with an empty shell of a party that is unlikely to put together as focused and disciplined an effort any time soon.

The Left's lashing out at Christian conservatives and attempt to downplay the Republican victory by suggesting that it is all because of the bigotry and ignorance of the "religious right" just shows the pathetic state of denial in the Democratic Party.

The truth is the Democrats are still running on the fumes of FDR's New Deal and Lyndon Johnson's Great Society even though from an intellectual and policy standpoint that tank ran out of gas years ago.

To further complicate the situation, the activist base of the Democratic Party has been taken over by the anti-war, anti-American, anti-capitalism, anti-religious Left. That's a big problem in a country that is overwhelmingly religious, capitalist, patriotic and very proud of the men and women who fight and die for our freedom and security.

But what really makes Democrats and the liberal elites sick is they know what George W. Bush is going to do with this hard fought victory. They saw him take a 500,000 popular vote loss and ram through massive tax cut after massive tax cut. They saw him in a post 9/11 world radically shift American foreign policy to embrace the doctrine of American preemption and military dominance. They know full well what George W. Bush can do.

For an average President, a 51-48 win wouldn't be that big of deal. For this President, however, a majority of the popular vote coupled with expended majorities in Congress is all he needs to permanently change the political course of this country.

Democrats know that on a whole host of policy issues a world of hurt is coming their way. Private accounts for Social Security, medical savings accounts, tax simplification, tort reform and much, much more are all in the pipeline.

And let's not kid ourselves with the idea that any of this is going to be bipartisan. There will be no negotiation with the Nancy Pelosis, Charlie Rangels or Barbara Boxers in this Congress. The bipartisanship will come from Red State Democratic Senators who have seen what happened to their former Red State Democratic Senators who obstruct and side with the far Left.

We haven't even mentioned the Big Kahuna: the Supreme Court. In many ways the battle for the Supreme Court is the single most important issue. Democrats know they were lucky to go four years and not have a single appointment from President Bush. They won't be so fortunate this time.

With 55 Republican Senators and the ghost of Tom Daschle echoing in the Senate chamber, President Bush is going to seriously reshape the third branch of our government. While the press may reduce this to being all about abortion, in reality abortion and Roe vs. Wade will only be a very small part of what the Supreme Court is going to have the final say over in the next 30 years. And liberals know that it is not just the three or four appointments to the High Court, but the dozens, even hundreds of lifetime appointments to the entire Federal bench that will lock in conservative jurisprudence for an entire generation.

This brings us back full circle to how devastating to liberals that 135,000 vote margin in the Buckeye state will be to the future course of this country. Was this a mandate or a landslide for President Bush? No. But it was one of the most consequential elections in this nation's history, the ramifications of which will be felt for decades. And behind all the vitriol, blather and post-election spin; that sick feeling among Democrats is because they know this to be true. J. McIntyre 9:47 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Tuesday, November 9 2004
THE BEST CAMPAIGN IN HISTORY:
Charlie Cook writes today:

You have to give enormous credit to the Bush campaign, which unquestionably was the best planned, best executed presidential campaign ever. Campaign Chairman Marc Racicot, Manager Ken Mehlman, Deputy National Finance Chairman Jack Oliver, Chief Strategist Matthew Dowd, Political Director Terry Nelson, lead pollster Jan van Lohuizen, lead media consultant Mark McKinnon and of course, the chief architect, Karl Rove, deserve the political equivalent of an Academy Award for running a campaign that always anticipated the next two or three moves down the chess board and were ready for anything.

Cook is right. While Democrats are sucking up much of the current media oxygen licking their wounds, minimalizing the impact of Bush's win and insulting more than half the country as dimwits and bigots, let's not overlook the fact that the Bush team ran a near-perfect race from the top to bottom, with the ultimate strength and payoff of the campaign coming where it mattered most: on the ground on election day.

One of the most striking things about the Bush campaign to me was how quietly confident and methodical they were throughout. Even when the President's approval ratings were sky high in 2002 and 2003, the Bush team was laying the groundwork for a tough, tight battle.

Whatever their private thoughts were, Rove, Mehlman and Dowd insisted at every possible opportunity that the race would be close in the end. The utter discipline with which the entire campaign operated suggests that their analysis was spot on from beginning to end.

OPERATION PHANTOM FURY: For some reason, reading the details of Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah triggered the memory of this exchange between Michael Moore and Bill O'Reilly:

MOORE: So, you would sacrifice your child to secure Fallujah? I want to hear you say that.

O'REILLY: I would sacrifice myself..

MOORE: Your child? It’s Bush sending the children there.

O'REILLY: I would sacrifice myself.

MOORE: You and I don’t go to war, because we’re too old…

O'REILLY: Because if we back down, there will be more deaths and you know it.

MOORE: Say, “I, Bill O’Reilly, would sacrifice my child to secure Fallujah.”

O'REILLY: I’m not going to say what you say, you’re a, that’s ridiculous…

MOORE: You don’t believe that. Why should Bush sacrifice the children of people across America for this?

Moore's question was (and still is) complete disingenuous garbage: we have an all-volunteer fighting force made up of adults who choose the brave, noble and dangerous work of defending our country.

More to the point, however, is Moore's belief that securing Fallujah is not worth the effort. The left in general sees Fallujah as a mess of our own making and part of the larger mistake of invading Iraq in the first place.

In reality, however, Fallujah is and has been a focal point of the terrorist insurgency for some time. History may also judge the success of Operation Phantom Fury as a decisive moment in the war in Iraq and some very real implications for the broader war on terror. So don't be surprised to see Michael Moore and his buddies on the wrong side of history - again.

"I HAD NO HORSE IN THIS RACE": That's the gist of a statement released by John Zogby yesterday. Here's the conclusion:

In short, I also missed the boat and I feel I must explain what happened. Whenever I rely only on history to make a call, I lose. That happened to me in both the 1998 and 2000 New York Senate races. My telephone polling was actually accurate both for Reuters nationally and in the 10 battleground states. My interactive polling for Wall Street Journal Online got 13 of 16 states right (one was tied). Because I have polled so successfully in presidential races in the past, I felt compelled to poll as late as I could and thought I saw a late-breaking trend for Kerry. Such a trend – fueled by a surge of young voters that was reported to us in our many calls to battleground cities on election day – did not materialize.

I don't have any problem with Zogby's explanation. Where I think many people do have a problem is when Zogby says he "felt compelled to poll as late as possible" - which I assume is a reference to his polling throughout election day.

Polling through the weekend or on the Monday before the election to try and pick up late trends is smart. Lots of pollsters do it. But polling on election day after ballots start being cast is something different. I'm not sure anybody else does it.

So the question is, what purpose is served (other than perhaps self aggrandizement) by polling on election day and releasing "final" numbers at 5:30pm Eastern when the polls in many states on the East Coast start closing shortly thereafter? I'm not sure Zogby has fully explained that one. - T. Bevan 10:30 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Monday, November 8 2004
WHICH POLLSTER WAS THE MOST ACCURATE?:
By and large the pollsters did an excellent job this year, especially when you consider the significant variables they were grappling with (massive registration increases, historic levels of intensity, cell phones, etc) and also that they were working under intense public scrutiny and scorching partisan attacks from both sides.

At the national level the answer to the question is pretty straightforward. Ed Goeas's GW-Battleground Vote Projection and Pew Research got it exactly right. Goeas's final Battleground projection was Bush 51.2, Kerry 47.8, Nader 0.5 and Pew's final allocation was 51-48-1.

CBS News/NY Times also nailed the final spread in the race (Bush +3), though they didn't allocate undecideds which makes their final less impressive than Battleground's and Pew's.

Raghavan Mayur at TIPP also deserves a mention for outperforming almost all of the big media pollsters and coming in just a tick off the final results with their final Bush 50.1, Kerry 48.0, Nader 1.1 projection. Scott Rasmussen of Rasmussen Reports also had a solid final result with their Bush 50.2, Kerry 48.5 final projection.

USA Today/CNN/Gallup finished poorly this year. Ironically, Gallup would have finished at or near the top of the list had they allocated undecideds 50/50 like Pew, as opposed to giving what appears to be 100% of the undecideds to Kerry.

By the way, just as a point for future reference Bush's Job Approval rating among likely voters in Gallup's final poll was 51%. President Bush's percentage of the national vote total this election? 51.0%.

Of the entire group of pollsters this year, only three got it wrong. Celinda Lake of Lake, Snell, Perry & Associates (the Democratic polling firm for the GW-Battleground 2004 Poll), Marist College and FOX News/Opinion Dynamics all projected a John Kerry popular vote victory. (The Democratic polling firm Democracy Corps also called for a one-point Kerry victory.)

Poll
Bush
Kerry
Nader
Error
Final Results
51.0%
48.0%
0.4%
-
Battleground/Tarrance
51.2
47.8
0.5
Dead On
Pew Research
51
48
1
Dead On
CBS/NY Times
49
46
1
0%
TIPP
50.1
48.0
1.1
1%
CBS News
49
47
1
1%
Rasmussen
50.2
48.5
-
1%
ABC/Wash Post
49
48
0
2%
Harris
49
48
1
2%
NBC/WSJ
48
47
1
2%
Reuters/Zogby
48
47
1
2%
Newsweek
50
44
1
3%
CNN/USAT/Gallup
49
49
1
3%
ARG
48
48
1
3%
Marist College
49
50
0
4%
Battleground/Lake
49
51
0
5%
FOX/Opn Dyn
46
48
1
5%

Now to the battleground state polls. Let's stipulate up front that both the national poll and the battleground state analyses are not meant to be comprehensive or quantitative, but rather quick snapshots using a simple, commonsense grading system. We looked at two basic factors to determine accuracy rankings: the percentage of states where the pollster correctly picked the winner and how much the pollster's projections varied from the final result in each state.

One last thing. In addition to calculating the difference between the projections from each polling firm and the final vote totals, we also tried to determine whether we could detect any trends that might show favorability toward one party or another by consistently underestimating or overestimating support for one candidate or another.

Here is what we found from all of the final polling conducted in the 2004 battleground states at the Presidential level (Click Here to View the Full Tabulated Results):

1) Mason-Dixon
Failed to Project Winner: 6.2% | Average Error = 1.8

A final Minnesota poll showing a one-point Bush win is the only blemish on Mason-Dixon's otherwise perfect scorecard this year. Not only did Brad Coker project the correct winner in 15 out of the 16 battleground states we looked at, he did so with amazing accuracy. Four states were dead on the final number and the overall difference between Mason-Dixon's final polls and the actual election results was a minuscule 1.8 points. Furthermore, if you look down through the list of Mason-Dixon's projections it's impossible to detect any consistent leanings toward one candidate or another.

2) Rasmussen
Failed to Project Winner: 6.2% | Average Error = 2.3

Rasmussen's battleground state polling this year was extremely solid and a close second to Mason-Dixon. He was dead on in PA and just missed in IA. Average error was a very good 2.3 points, with NJ and AZ the only states where he wasn't within three points of the final spread. No partisan trends either way.

3) SurveyUSA
Failed to Project Winner: 7.1% | Average Error = 2.8

Some people have questioned methodology and reliability of SurveyUSA's polls. Their performance in the battleground states this year should answer a good number of those questions: 13 out of 14 states called correctly, including dead-on numbers in Maine, Michigan, and Ohio. The difference between projections and actuals in a few of the states (CO, FL, NV & NJ) was on the high side, even if it was within the margin of error. No identifiable leanings toward either candidate.

4) Research 2000
Failed to Project Winner: 14.3% | Average Error = 3.1

Del Ali's firm only conducted polling in seven battleground states this year. They got six of those states right, including nailing a Bush one-point victory in Iowa. The big miss came in Florida, where Research 2000's final poll called for a one-point Kerry win. Average error from the final results was 3.1 percent - which is respectable - though in every instance except one (Iowa) they overestimated support for Kerry and underestimated support for Bush.

5) Quinnipiac
Failed to Project Winner: 33.3% | Average Error = 2.3

Many people dismissed Quinnipiac's final poll in Florida (Bush +8) as an outlier. Wrong. Quinnipiac was closer than most in FL, and they also did a nice job in the only two other states where they polled, NJ and PA. In fact, Quinnipiac would have finished pretty high in our rankings except they called for a tie in Pennsylvania. All three of their projections overestimated the spread for President Bush.

6) Zogby
Failed to Project Winner: 27.3% | Average Error = 3.8

As we all know, Zogby had been on record for months saying that Kerry was going to win this race. Despite his final tracking poll that put Bush ahead by one point nationally, Zogby's polling at the state level reflected his belief that Kerry was going to be the beneficiary of huge turnout - especially among the youth vote. The result is that Zogby missed three of the eleven states he polled in (FL, IA, and NM), had a relatively high error rate across the board (3.8%), and his numbers generally skewed in favor of John Kerry.

Adding insult to injury, Zogby's bizarre election day antics calling for "surprises" in Colorado and Virginia and a decisive 311 electoral vote victory for Kerry suggest he was relying on (not to mention taken in by) the badly skewed early exit poll data.

Let's be honest: Zogby's conduct this year bordered on outrageous. No other independent pollster was out making public predictions of a John Kerry or George W. Bush victory months before hand. And no other pollster decided to wait until 5:30pm Eastern time on election day to post their final numbers.

7) American Research Group
Failed to Project Winner: 50% | Average Error = 2.0

ARG got a bit unlucky this year. They called for a 1-point Bush win in NH and the result was Kerry +1. They also projected a 1-point Kerry win in New Mexico and the result was Bush +1. The big miss, however, came in Florida where ARG's last poll had Kerry up two. ARG did offset these misses by nailing tight outcomes in IA and WI giving them an excellent score in overall average error.

8) FOX News/Opinion Dynamics
Failed to Project Winner: 50% | Average Error = 4.5

It stands to reason that if your national numbers are way off then at least some of your state numbers are going to be bad as well. This is certainly true of FOX's final poll in FL where they showed Kerry ahead by five points. In fact, that 10-point miss stands out as the worst among the final battleground polls we looked at. Another miss in Wisconsin put FOX News/Opinion Dynamics at 50/50 in battlegrounds, with an average error rate of 4.5%

9) Strategic Vision
Failed to Project Winner: 44% | Average Error = 2.4

We were assaulted by some people for labeling Strategic Vision a Republican polling firm. For the record, the reason we did this was twofold: 1) they had a history of polling for Republican clients and 2) their polls were not sponsored by any independent media outlets like newspapers and television stations.

Strategic Vision's projections for a Bush win in MI and a tie in NJ, seems to provide evidence that, at least in these two states, they were skewing toward President Bush. Their polling in the other seven battleground states was reasonable, though except for Florida and Ohio, they consistently underestimated support for Senator Kerry.

10) CNN/USA Today/Gallup
Failed to Project Winner: 67% | Average Error = 5.8

To find Gallup's name at the bottom of the list is nothing short of shocking. In four of the biggest, most important states in the election this year (FL, OH, PA, and WI) CNN/USA Today/Gallup wasn't even close. In fact, they got it exactly backwards calling for Kerry wins in Florida and Ohio by 3 and 4 points, and Bush wins in PA and WI by 4 and 8. - T. Bevan & J. McIntyre 10:18 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

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