The following series of links and articles is intended as a counterbalance to the widespread reports that Bush has acquired a commanding lead in the latest US election polling. Whilst Newsweek and Time indeed did publish polls after the RNC which indicated a 10 and 11 point lead, the veracity of those polls is now firmly in question. Unfortunately news of the original polls appears to have greatly exceeded news of the followup polls and analysis which begs a huge variety of questions, not only about the polls themselves but also about the news agencies that have heavily promoted them. – Scoop Co-Editor Alastair Thompson
Truthout - The Polls Come Back to Earth
Daily Kos - Rasmussen's New Daily Tracking for Key States: OH, FL, PA, MI, NC
Zogby - 2004: It Is Not An 11 Point Race - by John Zogby
Ruy Teixeira - Kerry Widens Lead in Battleground States!
It has been a wild week for numbers. Immediately after the Republican Convention, Time and Newsweek released poll numbers indicating a significant bounce for George W. Bush, and an 11 point lead over John Kerry. A few days go by, however, and the air appears to have been let out of the tires.
The new Rasmussen poll has the two Presidential candidates tied 47.3% to 47.3%. This leads to an inescapable conclusion: If all these numbers are correct - Time, Newsweek and Rasmussen - then Mr. Bush has suffered an historic cratering in his poll numbers within 100 hours of the close of his party's convention.
But perhaps the ballyhooed post-convention lead enjoyed by Bush never existed at all. Pollster John Zogby says, "I have Mr. Bush leading by 2 points in the simple head-to-head match up - 46% to 44%. Add in the other minor candidates and it becomes a 3 point advantage for the President - 46% to 43%...it simply is not an 11 point race. It just isn't."
It should be noted that Rasmussen provided the core data for both the TIME and Newsweek polls. Their independent interpretation of the very same data produced dramatically different conclusions than those reached by TIME and Newsweek.
The 'Bush bounce' after the convention has either disappeared completely, or never existed at all. Neither bodes well for the incumbent. Gallup, which has on many occasions appeared to be working as a PR arm of the Bush election campaign, paints an interesting political perspective: "Bush's two-point convention bounce is one of the smallest registered in Gallup polling history, along with Hubert Humphrey's two-point bounce following the 1968 Democratic convention, George McGovern's zero-point bounce following the 1972 Democratic convention, and Kerry's "negative bounce" of one point among registered voters earlier this year. Bush's bounce is the smallest an incumbent president has received."
Rasmussen has today introduced daily tracking polls for the following states: OH, MI, PA, FL, and NC. They are based on seven day rolling averages. The numbers reflect seven days before release date--so these initial polls are based on data from September 1-September 7. Hence, they ought to be reflecting pretty much a high water mark for Bush. The results, which I find encouraging, are in extended copy:
*Note--Ras has not yet released the info on sample size or MOE, so we'll have to wait to see how seriously to consider these polls.
OHIO: Kerry 48%, Bush 46%
favorables: 49 favorable, 49 unfavorable
Kerry favorables: 53 favorable, 45 unfavorable
GOP: Bush 89, Kerry 9
DEM: Kerry 86, Bush 11
OTHER: Kerry 50, Bush 32
Right Track/Wrong Track: 42 right, 52 wrong
FLORIDA: Kerry 47%, Bush 47%
Favorables: 50 favorable, 50 unfavorable
Kerry Favorables: 53 favorable, 46 unfavorable
GOP: Bush 90, Kerry 9
DEM: Kerry 75, Bush 16
Other: Kerry 62, Bush 27
Right Track/Wrong Track: 42 right, 54 wrong
PENNSYLVANIA: Kerry 48%, Bush 46%
favorables: 51 favorable, 48 unfavorable
Kerry favorables: 51 favorable, 48 unfavorable
GOP: Bush 81, Kerry 14
DEM: Kerry 74, Bush 22
Other: Kerry 71, Bush 17
Right Track/Wrong Track: 39% right, 55% wrong
MICHIGAN: Bush 47%, Kerry 46%
favorables: 49 favorable, 51 unfavorable
Kerry favorables: 52 favorable, 45 unfavorable
GOP: Bush 94, Kerry 4
DEM: Kerry 82, Bush 14
Other: Kerry 46, Bush 37
Right Track/Wrong Track: 38% right, 58% wrong
NORTH CAROLINA: Bush 55%, Kerry 40%
Bush favorables: 63% favorable, 35%
Kerry favorables: 41% favorable, 58% unfavorable
Breakdown by Party ID
GOP: Bush 86, Kerry 10
Dem: Kerry 67, Bush 27
Other: Bush 59, Kerry 37
Right Track/Wrong Track: 48% right, 43% wrong
The Republican National Convention is over and score it a huge success for President George W. Bush. For one solid week he was on message and got Americans who watched to listen to the message he intends to carry in the fall campaign: leadership, decisiveness and success battling the war on terrorism. The convention actually followed another big week for Mr. Bush and equally dismal one for his opponent, Democratic Senator John Kerry.
Now the first polls are out. I have Mr. Bush leading by 2 points in the simple head-to-head match up - 46% to 44%. Add in the other minor candidates and it becomes a 3 point advantage for the President - 46% to 43%. This is no small achievement. The President was behind 50% to 43% in my mid-August poll and he essentially turned the race around by jumping 3 points as Mr. Kerry lost 7 points. Impressive by any standards.
For the first time in my polling this year, Mr. Bush lined up his Republican ducks in a row by receiving 90% support of his own party, went ahead among Independents, and now leads by double-digits among key groups like investors. Also for the first time the President now leads among Catholics. Mr. Kerry is on the ropes.
Two new polls came out immediately after mine (as of this writing) by the nation's leading weekly news magazines. Both Time's 52% to 41% lead among likely voters and Newsweek's 54% to 43% lead among registered voters give the President a healthy 11 point lead. I have not yet been able to get the details of Time's methodology but I have checked out Newsweek's poll. Their sample of registered voters includes 38% Republican, 31% Democrat and 31% Independent voters. If we look at the three last Presidential elections, the spread was 34% Democrats, 34% Republicans and 33% Independents (in 1992 with Ross Perot in the race); 39% Democrats, 34% Republicans, and 27% Independents in 1996; and 39% Democrats, 35% Republicans and 26% Independents in 2000. While party identification can indeed change within the electorate, there is no evidence anywhere to suggest that Democrats will only represent 31% of the total vote this year. In fact, other competitors have gone in the opposite direction. The Los Angeles Times released a poll in June of this year with 38% Democrats and only 25% Republicans. And Gallup's party identification figures have been all over the place.
This is no small consideration. Given the fact that each candidate receives anywhere between eight in ten and nine in ten support from voters in his own party, any change in party identification trades point for point in the candidate's total support. My polls use a party weight of 39% Democrat, 35% Republican and 26% Independent. Thus in examining the Newsweek poll, add three points for Mr. Bush because of the percentage of Republicans in their poll, then add another 8% for Mr. Bush for the reduction in Democrats. It is not hard to see how we move from my two-point lead to their eleven-point lead for the President.
I will save the detailed methodological discussion for another time. But I will remind readers that my polling has come closest to the final results in both 1996 and 2000.
None of this takes away from the President's achievement. He got out of his party's convention everything he needed to launch his campaign in earnest in the closing two months. But my poll still reveals lurking shadows for him. He still has a net negative job performance rating, a negative re-elect (i.e. more voters think it is time for someone new than feel he deserves re-election) and a net negative wrong direction for the country.
The poll also suggests that Mr. Kerry is behind and has a lot of work to do to refocus the campaign on the issues that must work for him: the economy, health care, and the execution of the war in Iraq. We also see now that at least in the short run, the advertising campaign against the Senator about his military service in Vietnam has raised questions about his integrity and has caused his personal unfavorable numbers to jump.
But with all that said, it simply is not an 11 point race. It just isn't.
John Zogby is the President and CEO of Zogby International- an independent polling firm, and writes this column for the Financial Times where it first appeared..
Now that's a headline you're not likely to see in the mainstream media, consumed as they are with the storyline du jour about Bush's Big Mo' from the convention.
But that's what the internals of the latest Gallup poll tell us. Prior to the Republican convention, Kerry had a one point lead among RVs (47-46) in the battleground states. After the Republican convention, now that battleground voters have had a chance to take a closer look at what Bush and his party really stand for, Kerry leads by 5 in these same states (50-45)! Note that Kerry gained three points among battleground voters, while Bush actually got a negative one point bounce.
And wait--there's more! The Gallup poll's internals also show that Kerry continues to lead among independents (49-46) and that both parties' partisans are equally polarized for their respective candidates (90-7). Note that these findings directly contradict the results of the recent Newsweek poll, which showed Bush doing much better among Republican partisans than Kerry was doing among Democratic partisans. Note also that, given the equal polarization of partisans and Kerry's lead among independents, the only possible reason Bush has any lead at all among Gallup's RVs must be because their sample has a GOP advantage on party ID (my guess is 5 points) that is inconsistent with almost all other polling data from this campaign season (see my recent post on the Newsweek poll for more discussion of this issue).
Indeed, if equal polarization of partisans
continues and Kerry carries a 3 point lead on independents
into the election, he'll win fairly easily, since the
Democratic proportion of voters in presidential elections is
always higher, not lower, than the Republican proportion. In
2000, after all, Bush carried independents by 2 points and
received stronger support from his partisans than Gore did
from his--but still lost the popular vote by half a point.
Now that's another storyline you're unlikely to see in the mainstream media.
Posted by Ruy Teixeira at 05:59 PM
Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation
the Center for American Progress