September 24 2004:
IS RUSS FEINGOLD IN TROUBLE?: That's the question
many people have been asking after seeing this
ABC News poll showing Feingold's lead over Republican
Tim Michels a mere 6 points. But not so fast. The recently
released Badger Poll, which showed a lead for President
Bush (14 points) that was comparable to the ABC poll (10
Feingold with a comfortable 15-point lead over Michels,
is a young (42), wealthy and attractive candidate with a
strong military background who emerged from the GOP
primary just ten days ago with solid
double-digit victory in a four way race. As is the case
for many challengers, however, the problem is that Michels
is a virtual unknown in the state (58% don't know enough
about him to answer the favorable/ unfavorable question
in the Badger Poll) with only 40 days until election day.
the other side, Feingold's job approval in the Badger Poll
stands at 49% and his reelect is at 47% - which is to say
that he may be slightly vulnerable for an incumbent. If
you also take into account Feingold's history, especially
his narrow victory in 1998 (a 51-48 win over Republican
Mark Neumann) and the fact that the state seems to be trending
Republican, you can start to see slightest indications of
a possible upset in the making. This is definitely a race
to keep an eye on.
as things stand right now the odds remain strongly in Feingold's
favor. It will take a Herculean effort by Michels over the
next six weeks along with a big win for Bush to prevent
Feingold from winning another term.
Related Links: Competitive
U.S. Senate Races | WI
GREAT DEBATE: With the first Presidential debate
coming up next week, now would be a good time to plug this
new feature on the 1960 Nixon-Kennedy debate sponsored
by the Museum
of Broadcast Communications. Sunday, September 26 will
mark the 44th anniversary of "The Great Debate"
which was broadcast - irony of all ironies - from the CBS
News studio here in Chicago.
addition to accessing this
extraordinary fifteen minute documentary with some behind
the scenes footage of the Nixon-Kennedy debate, true political
junkies will swoon over this
page which provides a history of televised Presidential
debates from 1960 through 2000.
venture to say that the coming debate between President
Bush and Senator Kerry could very well rival The Great Debate
in terms of the level of interest, importance, and possibly
even impact on the outcome of the Presidential race.
Related Links: Pew:
When Debates Matter | National
Journal: The Main Event)
- T. Bevan 12:15 pm Link
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September 23 2004
ARG, KERRY UP 1PT?: Yesterday I
was speaking with a major pollster who has been polling
in Florida for over twenty years. He had serious questions
about the ARG
poll released yesterday showing Kerry ahead one point
in the state.
poll was conducted Friday - Monday and this pollster had
several problems with those dates. First, he wondered how
you could get through to anyone in the panhandle when there
was still massive electric and phone outages throughout
that entire section of the state. Second, Friday night polling
is apparently seriously discouraged in Florida because of
Friday night high school football.
pointed to a just concluded 2
-day poll of 800 likely voters in Florida's I-4 Corridor
(the swing part of the state from Daytona to Tampa which
traditionally mirrors the state wide vote, give or take
a point or two) which had President Bush leading Senator
Kerry by 13 points, 51 - 38. The same poll also had Governor
Jeb Bush's approval rating for the hurricanes at 84%. Given
these numbers this pollster felt it extremely unlikely
John Kerry was ahead in Florida by one point.
agrees. They have just released a Florida poll of 819 likely
voters (Late Correction: it is registered voters)
showing President Bush leading Senator Kerry, 49
- 41. J.
McIntyre 12:06 pm Link
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September 22 2004
ZOGBY: There has been
some confusion concerning our decision to no longer use
the Zogby Interactive polls in our state averages. Just
to be clear we are still using Zogby's normal telephone
polling both nationally and in all of the states, it is
only his Internet based polls we are no longer using in
the state averages. Salon
describes Zogby Internet polls:
Zogby Interactive Battleground Poll -- regularly cited
in the blogosphere and published on the Wall Street Journal's
Web site -- is an online poll conducted via e-mail. If
this sounds dubious, that's because it is. Online polling
has a spotty track record and remains an unproven method
for gauging public opinion.
this point in the cycle, with less than six weeks until
the election, we feel there are now enough independent polls
to justify no longer use partisan polls or Internet based
polls in our state averages
J. McIntyre 10:30 pm Link
RCP ELECTORAL COUNT: Our current RCP
Electoral Count has President Bush with 284 to Senator
Kerry's 200, with 54 EV's rated as "toss ups."
We've gotten a number of emails asking why certain states
are rated as toss ups and/or leaning one way or the other,
particularly in relation to the most recent polling in each
use five criteria to allocate states electorally. Here they
are, in order of importance:
The latest nonpartisan polls in the state, giving higher
priority to the more established and well respected polling
Where the national polls are, as measured by our RCP
Poll Average, and the trend
in the national polls.
How the state voted in 1996 and, in particular, 2000. (Taking
into account any unique circumstances that may have had
an influence on past results, such as Gore's status as a
"favorite son" in Tennessee in 2000.)
How the state has been trending politically in national
Miscellaneous circumstances that may apply to a particular
state this election cycle. (i.e. a big Governor or Senate
race, hot ballot initiatives like gay marriage, state-wide
scandals, local disasters or emergencies.)
is why we can rate a state like Colorado as "Leaning
Bush," even though the two most recent polls indicate
only a one point lead for the President. On the other hand,
we're keeping New Jersey as "Leaning Kerry" even
though recent polling
suggest that the state might be coming into play. Similarly,
Oregon and Iowa remain in the "toss up" category
despite the fact that the some recent polls show the President
POLLS : We have discontinued the use of partisan
polls and Internet aided polls in our state averages. We
had been using Strategic Vision and Zogby Interactive polls
through the summer, primarily because in many states there
just wasn't much public polling information. However, with
under six weeks until the election there are more than enough
independent polls in the major battleground states. J.
McIntyre 8:27 am Link
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September 21 2004
BATTLEGROUND UPDATE: It's been less than a week
since I wrote about John
Kerry's slide in the state polls. Since then, the trend
has continued. Yesterday we had a wave of state polls confirming
the move away from Kerry in key battleground states. Based
on the latest polls, here is where our RCP Battleground
is maintaining a solid grip on Michigan and Washington,
but everything else is in play. With the exception of New
Hampshire, every single state we have listed as a toss up
in our RCP
Electoral Count (IA, MN, NM, OR, PA) is a state that
went for Gore in 2000.
picture is even more bleak for the Kerry campaign when you
look at how Kerry is faring in blue states (i.e. states
that Al Gore won in 2000) versus how Bush is faring in red
states. Kerry is running worse than Gore did in 2000 in
eight out of ten battleground states, Bush has lost ground
versus his performance four years ago in only two:
and New Jersey seem to be aberrations. However, not only
could the massive move in New Jersey be attributable to
a "9/11 effect" and the McGreevey scandal, we
are now seeing other polls coming out of Democratic strongholds
and New York
suggesting that Kerry is experiencing a serious deterioration
of support there as well.
the other hand, there is no evidence to corroborate a big
swing against Bush in Colorado. It's hard to believe that
the President is leading in nearly every national poll and
is running better than he did in 2000 all across the country
- including the Mountain West states of Nevada, New Mexico,
and Arizona - but is running seven and half points worse
in Colorado this year.
THE COUNTRY REJECTING JOHN KERRY?: Now that the
conventions are over and people are beginning to focus intently
on the race, it's almost as if the public is taking a good
hard look at John Kerry and saying "no thanks."
There is still a lot of race left and plenty of time (including
three debates) for Kerry to convince people to change their
minds, but the trend lines are certainly not favorable for
how can we explain what's going on? There are lots of possible
reasons: Kerry is a bad candidate, he's running a disorganized
campaign, his message is all over the place, the Swift Boat
Veterans hit him where it hurt, etc. All of these things
are true to a certain degree and they've no doubt contributed
at least in part to his decline in the polls. But I think
there is something much, much bigger.
most inexplicable aspect of this race right now is that
the President continues to rise in the polls despite the
fact that the violence and chaos in Iraq is getting worse.
Iraq has always been the defining issue in this campaign
and despite John Kerry's best attempts over the last few
months to turn it against Bush by attacking from every imaginable
angle, it hasn't worked. Maybe that will change as the violence
continues into October and Kerry sharpens his critique,
but I wouldn't count on it.
reason, I think, is very simple: America hates losers. I
don't mean that John Kerry is a "loser" in the
stylistic sense - though he does come off a bit that way
when we see pictures of his gangly frame in spandex bike
shorts, windsurfing or throwing a baseball.
I mean is that when it comes to the biggest issue in this
campaign, Iraq, John Kerry doesn't leave the impression
with voters that he really wants to win the war. Everything
we see, feel and know about John Kerry says his heart is
not in this war, nor has it really been in any war.
even when he tries to articulate, as
he did yesterday in New York, a strategy to fight a
more effective war than President Bush, it comes across
more like a laundry list of gripes from a man who thinks
the cause is already lost: "Iraq is a mistake and
mess, and we need to do X, Y, and Z so we can get out as
soon as possible."
the other hand, President Bush is, for better or worse,
a fighter. It's not so much that the public thinks President
Bush is a winner per se, only that they know very clearly
that Bush wants to win this war, and that he's doing everything
within his power to try to win and it.
even though mistakes have been made and a good number of
Americans are uneasy about the War in Iraq and the direction
of the country in general, when given a choice between a
leader who is committed to fighting and optimistic about
winning or a leader who exudes the attitude that because
the going is tough we ought to get going, Americans almost
always prefer the former.
1972 nearly 60 percent of the country was against the war
in Vietnam, a war which at that point America had been fighting
for almost a decade at a cost of tens of thousands of lives.
Yet the country still thoroughly rejected McGovern's defeatist
"peace at any price" platform in favor of Nixon's
call for "peace with honor" even as Nixon escalated
the war effort in the spring and summer of the election
even the 1972 analogy strikes me as inadequate, because
I still think the country is approaching this election less
through the prism of Iraq as Vietnam (despite all the focus
on the candidates' experiences during the Vietnam era) and
more with the feeling that 9/11, Iraq and the War on Terror
are akin to Pearl Harbor and World War II.
of hostages and the slaughter
of children now standard viewing on our nightly news,
it is going to be extremely difficult for John Kerry to
convince America over the next 40 days that Iraq is separate
from the overall War on Terror. Even further, it will be
a remarkable feat if Kerry can argue that Iraq is a mistake
not worth the fight and simultaneously convince the public
he is as committed as Bush to waging an aggressive War on
Terror. - T. Bevan 7:55 am Link
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September 20 2004
WHAT'S UP WITH THE RACE?: The
simple answer is Senator Kerry is losing. After months of
a presidential race that was more or less a tie, President
Bush has broken out to a 5-7 point lead nationally. With
so many polls being released these days the best way to
filter out much of the noise is to follow our RCP
began to fade at the beginning of August and Bush very effectively
used the convention in New York to break out of the Bush
+2/Kerry +2 race that had existed for months. This can be
seen very clearly in the historical
graph of the RCP Poll Average.
of the polls at the end of last week created quite a stir
as two (Pew
Research and Harris)
showed the race tied, while Gallup's
poll had President Bush ahead by 13-14 points. Over
the weekend the CBS/NY
Times poll came out showing Bush ahead 9, while Zogby
had Kerry only trailing by three points.
like to quibble with Gallup's "likely-voter" model
and suggest that registered voters are a much better way
to look at the race at this time, but Gallup's registered
voters results still show the President ahead by eight points,
the same amount Bush is ahead among registered voters in
the CBS/NY Times poll. All of the chatter about registered
voters vs. likely voters, and weighting for party ID vs
not weighting for party ID is missing the central point.
The bottom line is that Senator Kerry is trailing by significant
margins, in significant polls, in mid-September. That is
not good news for Democrats.
evidence points to Bush indeed having moved out to a real
lead. The polls in the
battleground states where this election was always going
to be decided have moved significantly toward the President
in the last three weeks. The battleground has shifted under
the Democrats' feet and the Kerry campaign's hope to be
fighting on GOP ground in Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee,
North Carolina, Arkansas and Virginia has all but disappeared.
Instead Kerry is fighting for his life in the Democratic-leaning
states of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Mexico, and most
carried Pennsylvania in 2000 by 4.2%. Right now Kerry leads
in only one of the last seven polls and he
trails President Bush by 1.7% in our RCP Pennsylvania Average.
Using the average of those seven polls taken the first couple
of weeks in September, Kerry is running around six points
behind where Gore was in 2000 which seems to confirm the
idea that Bush is ahead 5-7 points nationally.
the critical states of Ohio,
Missouri, and Wisconsin
Bush is running 4-5 points better than his pace in 2000.
and West Virginia
are the only states where there are positive polls for Kerry.
And unlike PA, WI, OH and MO where there are multiple polls
confirming Bush's breakout, we only have one non-partisan
poll in MI, CO, and WV helping Kerry. As more polls come
out in these three states those remaining positive areas
could move against Kerry as well.
of all the hurricanes in Florida
there has been only one poll recently, but that one has
Bush up 6 and provides more confirmation of where his lead
you have states like New Jersey that should be a solid Kerry
state where the three
latest polls show a tight race. Needless to say, all
of this state polling news is not good news for Democrats.
While the Kerry camp can cherry pick one state poll here
or there, it appears pretty clear that the balance of the
state polling evidence confirms a Bush lead of at least
4-7 points as opposed to a "dead-heat" race.
top of all the polling evidence just looking at which side
is changing advisors, direction, message, etc.... is all
you need to know about which campaign is ahead and comfortable
with the existing dynamics of the race.
problem (among many) for the Kerry campaign is that a 5-7
point hole in a country that is as polarized as today's
is more like a 10-12 point deficit 15-25 years ago. Kerry
wasted his opportunities to break out to a lead of his own
with his non-helpful VP selection and say-nothing convention.
And with all the pounding Bush has taken for the last eight
months Kerry isn't left with many attractive options on
how to get the needed 270 Electoral Votes.
Kerry needs to get this race back to within 3-4 points in
our RCP Poll Average by the first debate in ten days, or
these poll numbers will start to harden and he will need
a debate meltdown by the President to have a chance. J.
McIntyre 8:42 am Link
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