Kerry's lead is 6 to 8 pts?!August 3 2004 at 10:33 AM
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Response to Bounce is rather irrelavnt if Kerry is in the lead, eh?
Are you looking at Canadian polls, or individual US states, like Massachusetts? Or are you misreading, again? God knows, you've proven you can't read worth a fart in a wind-tunnel.
USA Today, Kerry's strongest media-supporter after the NYT, says their guy is losing. The following article attempts to explain why, as well as try to cover for Kerry's failure to get the expected bounce.
Posted 8/2/2004 10:44 PM Updated 8/3/2004 12:10 AM
So why did Bush, not Kerry, get the bounce?
By Susan Page, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — There was a bounce after last week's Democratic National Convention.
But it went to President Bush, not John Kerry.
Pollsters and strategists are puzzling over Kerry's failure to get a boost from a convention that even critics acknowledged went almost precisely as planned. Polls show it improved voters' impressions of Kerry as a strong leader and a potential commander in chief. It burnished views of the Democratic Party.
Still, in the USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday, Kerry's support dipped 2 percentage points among likely voters compared with a poll taken the week before the convention. Bush's standing rose 5 percentage points. (Related story: Poll results )
Those changes aren't huge, and the survey has a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points for the sample of 1,129 likely voters. But the direction they signal raises questions about a contest that continues to defy political assumptions.
Republicans were delighted. Bush strategist Matthew Dowd dubbed it an oxymoronic "negative bounce."
Democrats were dismissive. "We're extremely pleased with where John Kerry and John Edwards are," Mary Beth Cahill, Kerry's campaign manager, said Monday.
Two other post-convention polls released Monday also showed Kerry failing to get the traditional boost from the convention. One showed his support unchanged; the other had him up 3 percentage points among likely voters. Neither found Bush gaining ground.
Some of the same voices who confidently predicted at least a modest bounce for Kerry last week suggested theories for why that didn't happen: The Democrats miscalculated by limiting the partisan bashing of Bush. Or perhaps in this polarized electorate there's simply no one left to persuade. Or Kerry could still benefit from a delayed bounce.
Or it could reflect fallout of the terrorist threat in the first presidential election since the 9/11 attacks. Bush's resolute response has created a foundation for him that so far hasn't been shaken by concerns about the war in Iraq and the state of the economy.
The convention was followed in short order by new warnings about possible al-Qaeda attacks on financial institutions in Washington, New York and New Jersey.
Kelly DeMarco, 34, a homemaker from Darien, Conn., who was called in the poll, was impressed by what she saw on TV from the convention. "Kerry did very well," she says. "His daughters were excellent. I was really impressed with his family. I liked the points he made about how he would handle things in Iraq" and on education.
She sounds like a Kerry supporter. But she's backing Bush.
"I'm not sure he has enough fortitude to act when necessary," she says of Kerry. "I do believe that is an attribute Bush has over him."
Sea of tranquility
Since polling became a routine part of politics, the only other candidate who failed to see any improvement in his standing after the convention that nominated him was George McGovern in 1972.
That year, Democrats fought bitterly over credentials and the platform. Their convention in Miami Beach was so chaotic that the candidate didn't deliver his acceptance speech until well after midnight.
This time, the Democratic convention in Boston was a sea of tranquility. With an emphasis on Kerry's biography, particularly his service in Vietnam, the convention succeeded in improving his image on almost every front, the poll shows. He boosted his standing as a candidate who is optimistic, honest, trustworthy and caring.
The ingredients were carefully chosen, the recipe time-tested. So why didn't the cake rise?
Among the theories:
•There's no one left to persuade. More than three of four voters say they've given the election "quite a lot" of thought; nearly nine of 10 say their minds are firmly made up. Those are levels of interest and certainty that usually aren't seen until a week or two before the election. "People have their guns drawn," says Andrew Kohut, director of the non-partisan Pew Research Center. "There's a smaller swing vote."
Democrats already had consolidated behind the nominee, which typically happens at the convention. "Kerry got the traditional convention bounce," Democratic consultant Steve Murphy says. "He got it back in March, when he became the nominee."
•Republicans responded more than Democrats. After the convention, the number of Republicans who said they were more enthusiastic than usual about voting spiked by 11 percentage points, to 62%. For Democrats the increase was 5 points, to 73%). Political observers couldn't remember another time when a convention excited more loyalists in the other party than in its own.
The fact that more Democrats are fired up at this point than Republicans isn't necessarily good news for Kerry. There's more maneuvering room for Republicans to gin up their base — and they still have their convention to do that.
•There wasn't enough red meat on the menu. The Kerry campaign tamped down direct criticism of Bush, fearing that harsh convention rhetoric would repel swing voters. One result: Kerry's ratings went up, but Bush's ratings didn't go down significantly.
Bush's approval rating fell just 1 percentage point, to 48%. The percentage who said Bush has the personality and leadership qualities needed to be president stayed the same at 55%. Those who said they agreed with Bush on the issues that matter to them stayed precisely the same.
"What they didn't really do was clear contrast" with Bush, says Democratic pollster Doug Schoen. "All the contrasts that were made were inferential. There wasn't anybody who said: 'Here's the problem. Here's what we're going to do differently.' " Some Democrats now will press Kerry to take a harder line.
Republicans already have made it clear they won't repeat the Democratic strategy. Criticism of Kerry, especially of his career in the Senate, is expected to be a major component of the Republican convention, though that approach carries its own risks.
•Bush fares better by comparison. Voters already knew a lot about Bush. After the convention, they also knew more about Kerry. Dowd says that makes it easier for them to decide to support Bush even if they see some flaws in him.
"They have a better reference point to compare Bush to," the Bush strategist says.
•Kerry failed to specify what he would do about Iraq. A 52% majority still says that Kerry doesn't have a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq, down only slightly from 56% before the convention. Just 38% say Kerry has a clear plan, compared with 42% for Bush. That makes it more difficult for Kerry to capitalize on the political vulnerabilities Bush faces stemming from the war.
In Boston, Democrats didn't blast the decision to invade Iraq, in part because Kerry voted to authorize the war. The percentage of voters who say it was a mistake to go to war actually dropped after the convention, to 47% compared with 50% before.
"He hasn't presented how he would do things differently," says Brooke Fox, 40, a natural resource policy consultant from Windsor, Colo., who was among those surveyed. "How is he going to persuade the international community to get on board? What he has said are platitudes."
•The poll is wrong. David Wade, Kerry's press secretary, calls the USA TODAY poll "an aberration." Because the results were a surprise, USA TODAY extended the survey an additional night, to Sunday, to create a larger and more reliable sample.
The survey showed that Kerry's best night — and Bush's worst — was on Friday, the day after Kerry's well-received speech to the convention. Kerry's support among registered voters was 49%, Bush 48%. But Kerry dipped to 44% on Saturday; he was at 46% on Sunday. Bush's support rose to 54% on Saturday, 53% on Sunday.
Two other post-convention surveys were released on Monday.
A CBS News poll taken Thursday through Sunday showed no convention bounce for Kerry. His support stayed at 49%, the same as before the convention. Bush went down 1 point, to 43%.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll, taken Friday through Sunday, showed Kerry with what they characterized as a "a tepid bump." He gained 4 points among registered voters, 3 points among likely voters. Bush lost 4 points among registered voters, 1 point among likely voters.
•The bounce will come later. Some analysts suggest that the convention laid the foundation for Kerry to gain ground later. "On national-security issues, Iraq, values — there was substantial movement for us," says Mark Mellman, Kerry's pollster. "Honestly, that was what we were trying to get out of the convention."
Voters who now see Kerry as a stronger, more appealing leader may be easier to win over as the campaign continues.
Cahill says the feeling by a majority of voters that the country has gotten off on the "wrong track" should be seen as problematic for Bush.
"I think he did great at the convention," Charles Wassler, 87, a retired construction worker from Barefoot Bay, Florida, says of Kerry. He liked what Kerry had to say about the economy, health care and Iraq. "He has more experience and will build a coalition to get all the countries fighting terror. That's not what's happening now."
Another Bush bounce?
Kerry dismisses the polls.
"None of that means anything right now," he said Monday in an interview on CNN. "All of these polls are so wacky because, frankly, they don't know what the political dynamic is this year. That's number one. Number two, I don't pay attention to polls. If I paid attention to polls, I would have stopped getting up in the morning last December," when his campaign seemed to be on its last legs.
But analysts see the "bounce" as important because the political conventions are the clearest shot a candidate gets during a campaign to make his case to voters. In a prepared speech, before a cheering audience, he can explain who he is and what he would do as president. In the past three decades, convention bounces have ranged from 3 points to 16.
Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe predicted before the convention that Kerry would jump to a lead of 8 to 12 percentage points afterwards. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who chaired the convention, forecast a bounce of 5 points.
Now the question becomes: Will Bush get a bounce at the Republican National Convention?
That depends in part on why Kerry failed to get one now. If it was a result of Democratic miscalculations — the decision not to bash Bush, the failure to outline specific plans in Iraq — then Bush may fare better. For the record, Dowd, chief strategist of Bush's campaign, predicts he will get a boost.
If it's because voters no longer use conventions to make up their minds, then Bush may have the same fate.
Check back in five weeks.
Contributing: Mark Memmott, William Risser