Saturday, April 10 2004
Polls, polls, polls, there are polls everywhere these days. In the last few days FOX, Gallup, ARG, AP/Ipsos all released new polling on the presidential race, and then of course Rasmussen is releasing a new tracking poll every day. Then within these polls there are results with registered voters, results with likely voters, results with Nader and results without Nader.

So just in the new Gallup Poll alone, there are four different Bush vs. Kerry numbers: Bush 46% - Kerry 48% (registered voters without Nader), Bush 48% - Kerry 45% (likely voters without Nader), Bush 46% - Kerry 45% (registered voters with Nader), Bush 47% - Kerry 43% (likely voters with Nader).

As a general rule likely voter results are always a better poll number than registered voters. RCP will always post likely voter results over registered voters. Going forward we will identify, whenever possible, whether the poll is of likely voters or registered voters. Whether it is better to use the numbers with Nader or without Nader is open to debate.

At this stage, Nader is not likely to be as large an influence as he was in 2000, but that doesn't mean he won't end up making a difference. And if he isn't going to be as large a factor, that will begin to show up in his polling numbers as we get closer to election day. If Nader is still polling 3, 4, or 5 percent on the weekend before the election, he will very much be a factor and it would be foolish to ignore his impact. Just ask Al Gore.

So when a poll like Gallup releases its results with four different numbers for the same race, we will quote the likely voter results with Nader, as the main number. However, it would be a mistake to get too hyped up by the inevitable back and forth that will transpire in these polls between now and Labor Day. Leaving aside the period around Kerry's VP selection and the Democratic convention, if one candidate is able to sustain a 5 plus point lead in our Bush vs. Kerry RCP Average (for more than a week) that would signal a more significant shift in the race, otherwise all these different polls are just background noise.

If you had to look at one poll, the number I would focus on is our RCP Average of President Bush's job approval. As a crude measuring stick for the state of the presidential race, an over 50% job approval for the President should translate into a Bush victory. A 45% - 49% job approval will mean a close race, but I would give President Bush the advantage. A 40% - 44% job approval for the President would translate into a dead heat race, and below 40% and you would have to give the advantage to Kerry.

Right now Bush's RCP Average job approval is at 49.6% and I would rate that as bad news for the Kerry campaign. If Bush's job approval stays here or is higher on election day, Kerry will lose. Bush on the other hand could still win with a job approval in the high 30's, though he would be the underdog. Below 30% and the President is finished.

So between now and Labor Day I would pay less attention to the noise in the myriad of different Bush - Kerry numbers and instead focus more on the RCP Average of Bush's job approval to get a better feel for how the election will ultimately turn out. J. McIntyre 11:53am | Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Wednesday, April 7 2004
I saw Bush's exchange with the AP reporter live and was taken by surprise, as the President came off sounding like a jerk. To the viewer, it came across like the President was dressing down the reporter for not calling him "Mr. President." Courtesy of Josh Marshall, apparently the AP reporter had a cell phone to his ear which prompted the "Who are you talking to?" retort form the President. This is obviously a big difference and the White House should do a better job of getting the real story out to the press. To the average viewer who saw that live the President did not come off well at all.

MCCAIN: The Kerry-McCain ticket seems to be getting more play in the last few days. The NY Times' Adam Nagourney quotes Democrats close to Kerry as saying McCain remains a "highly alluring choice" whose "choice would almost guarantee Mr. Kerry's election." Yesterday the Boston Globe's Glen Johnson ratcheted up the McCain speculation:

If there is a consensus among Kerry aides about who would be the boldest and most potent pick, it is Senator John S. McCain of Arizona -- a Republican. While Kerry has talked about his search with few people other than his wife, campaign manager, and the head of his search committee, Washington power broker James A. Johnson, many high-level staff members believe -- based on Kerry's past and recent comments -- that McCain will get serious consideration.

It's hard to know what to make of the line that "McCain will get serious consideration." Despite all of McCain's protestations to the contrary, I wouldn't be surprised at all that if asked by Kerry, he would accept as his running mate. Kerry, however, is way too cautious to make such a bold and dramatic move. The more likely storyline here is the Kerry camp likes the Kerry-McCain buzz because it serves to moderate Kerry's image and help him with many of McCain's supporters in the center. McCain, of course, loves all the hype and publicity and isn't going to go out of his way to squash these stories. So I wouldn't be surprised if this Kerry-McCain storyline builds steam in the coming weeks. At the end of the day, I don't think Kerry has it in him to make such a bold move. But if he did, and McCain accepted, it would not be good news for the Bush campaign. J. McIntyre 7:53am | Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Tuesday, April 6 2004
"Iraq has become this administration's Vietnam" - Senator Edward Kennedy

I have news for Senator Kennedy and for all the people who are against the war in Iraq. Whether you like it or not this is not just "George Bush's War." For better or worse, this is America's war. It is one thing to have legitimate policy differences on what the best strategy is in our fight against terrorism, but Senator Kennedy's overheated rhetoric plays directly into the hands of our enemies.

Kennedy's speech at the Brookings Institution and his subsequent interview on Larry King Live where he said:

I think John Kerry has the background, the war experience, somebody that's seen war, understands war, and the foreign policy experience to give us a new opportunity to see this resolved, where we can bring Americans home with honor. That's what we're all interested in. And I think he's the man to do it.

That's the problem, if all we are interested in is bringing our troops home, just like we did in Somalia, we will all lose in the long run. It may be easy to dismiss Kennedy as a left winger way out of the mainstream, but unfortunately his foreign policy vision represents the core of the Democratic Party today. Our enemies have a plan, and that plan is to wear us down until the politicians and the American people give up. While the situation in Iraq is far from perfect, Senator Kennedy should find a more constructive way to criticize George Bush's foreign policy that doesn't give hope to the fanatics our young men and women are fighting right now. J. McIntyre 7:47 am

Monday, April 5 2004
Tom is on a much needed vacation this week so posting might be a little sparse. Check in later this evening. J. McIntyre 7:53 am

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