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September 28, 2004

Good Analysis of Post/ABC Poll

Unfortunately, the crush of time has prevented me from doing much analysis of the recent surveys beyond the horse race numbers, and yet I’ve also argued that we all need to pay less attention to horserace numbers. Not very helpful, I know.

So rather than try to dig into the numbers myself, I want to recommend this morning's poll analysis story by the Washington Post’s Dan Balz and Vanessa Williams. It nicely describes the ongoing decision making process among swing voters conflicted between "deep concerns about Iraq and the pace of the economic recovery” and the perception that George Bush is "a stronger leader with a clearer vision.” Two key paragraphs:

Bush's relentless attacks on Kerry have badly damaged the Democratic nominee, the survey and interviews showed. Voters routinely describe Kerry as wishy-washy, as a flip-flopper and as a candidate they are not sure they can trust, almost as if they are reading from Bush campaign ad scripts. But Kerry's problems are also partly of his own making. Despite repeated efforts to flesh out his proposals on Iraq, terrorism and other issues, he has yet to break through to undecided voters as someone who has clear plans for fixing the country's biggest problems…

Among those voters who dislike Bush's policies and are still making up their minds, the three presidential debates may offer Kerry his last opportunity to show them that he has what they are looking for in a president.


My only quarrel with the Balz/Williams analysis is their use of "solid” to describe Bush’s current lead. ABC Polling Director Gary Langer, in a separate analysis of the same numbers concludes,

That result [Bush’s current lead] is not predictive — the race has been tied and it can be again. But these results present three prime worries for the Kerry camp. One is that, unlike Kerry, Bush has maintained his immediate post-convention gains (the candidate evaluations in this ABC/Post survey are little changed from those in the last). A second is Kerry's weak personal position, which sends him into the debates with a certain lack of good will. And the third is a very broad sense that Kerry hasn't enunciated a clear message; registered voters by 2-1 say Bush has taken clearer stands on the issues.
Taken together, that analysis seems on target. Bush has a small and imortant advantage, but the debates provide Kerry with a potential opening.


Related Entries - Interpreting Polls

Posted by Mark Blumenthal on September 28, 2004 at 12:32 PM in Interpreting Polls | Permalink

Comments

Praise God that the best is unfolding from this. Our lives are being enriched. I have enjoyed the post and the response. Both have artistic merit.

Please seek the good in President Bush and Senator Kerry.

Posted by: huggy | Sep 28, 2004 3:43:47 PM

Balz and Williams have repaired to the last redoubt: Kerry's weak because of those Bush ads. Yes, buried as deep as they could bury it is their CYA, that perhaps a wee smidgen of the essence of a man can be said to come from the man himself. How Mainstream Press of them!

Posted by: Buddy Larsen | Sep 28, 2004 3:48:04 PM

"almost as if they are reading from Bush campaign ad scripts ..."

Wow. feel the condescension. Hey, guess what: I think Kerry's wishy washy, and I thought that long before seeing any Bush ads.

I wonder if the people who don't like bush sound "almost as if they are reading from Kerry campaign ad scripts?" ah, mais non, ce n'est pas possible!!!


I agree that Bush doesn't have it in the bag yet, though. good analysis.

Posted by: Claudius | Sep 28, 2004 4:44:03 PM

"almost as if they are reading from Bush campaign ad scripts ..."

Wow. feel the condescension. Hey, guess what: I think Kerry's wishy washy, and I thought that long before seeing any Bush ads.

I wonder if the people who don't like bush sound "almost as if they are reading from Kerry campaign ad scripts?" ah, mais non, ce n'est pas possible!!!


I agree that Bush doesn't have it in the bag yet, though. good analysis.

Posted by: Claudius | Sep 28, 2004 4:44:03 PM

I agree with most of the above. The analysis looks good to me and makes sense; but when you can tell who a reporter is voting for in paragraph 2, that's not so good. (Well, in the long run maybe it is, but not in a profession that claims objectivity and nonpartisanship.)

"Show your work" is turning into an important principle for me in reading reports like this. I want to see not just the conclusion, but what led the writers to it. The article claims that Kerry's weak position is due to Bush's "relentless attacks", but it doesn't offer evidence to back this contention up. (It doesn't pass the intuitive-agreement test either from where I sit; I have a lower opinion of Kerry now than I did a month and a half ago, but that is due to Kerry's statements and actions, not anything Bush has said.) They could be right in attributing Kerry's drop to Bush, but they haven't shown why they think that.

Posted by: jaed | Sep 28, 2004 8:48:27 PM


Balz story???


Good god...It was completely biased.. Get serious. Press is trying to keep this a horse race.. --


Posted by: mark | Sep 28, 2004 10:33:48 PM

Hmmmm... So the latest Gallup has Bush ahead 52-44. Gallup admitted that their likely voter sample had a party identification breakdown of 43% GOP, 31% Democrat. Should anyone be surprised at the results?

Posted by: Ralph Hitchens | Sep 29, 2004 8:15:31 AM

Mark:

Where are the party IDs for the samples that the Post used in this poll? Do you have them? I have asked Richard Morin for them but have to get them.

Posted by: Steve Soto | Sep 29, 2004 9:46:03 AM

""almost as if they are reading from Bush campaign ad scripts ..."

Wow. feel the condescension. Hey, guess what: I think Kerry's wishy washy, and I thought that long before seeing any Bush ads.

I wonder if the people who don't like bush sound "almost as if they are reading from Kerry campaign ad scripts?" ah, mais non, ce n'est pas possible!!!"

You seem to forget that Kerry being on people's minds is relatively new. Most people who don't like Bush haven't liked him for almost 4 years now. Bush-bashing has nothing to do with Kerry and everything to do with the fact that Bush is sending this world to hell in a handbasket!

Posted by: Kristin | Sep 29, 2004 10:21:53 AM

Kristin: I guess that's a good point. The only person I can speak for is myself. I've been looking at Kerry for two years or so (the TNR cover article got me started), and I pretty quickly decided he wasn't my cup of tea.

I watched with amazement as first Graham, then Joe-mentum, either of whom I'd have happily voted for, got gonged. Even Gephardt was starting to look pretty good ... but Kerry's a pill too bitter to swallow.

I live in California, so I can do a write-in with impunity. Sure glad I don't live in a swing state this time.

P.S. - so the bush-hatred has nothing to do with the nonstop stream of bushitler propaganda?

Posted by: Claudius | Sep 29, 2004 9:11:16 PM

Kristin: I guess that's a good point. The only person I can speak for is myself. I've been looking at Kerry for two years or so (the TNR cover article got me started), and I pretty quickly decided he wasn't my cup of tea.

I watched with amazement as first Graham, then Joe-mentum, either of whom I'd have happily voted for, got gonged. Even Gephardt was starting to look pretty good ... but Kerry's a pill too bitter to swallow.

I live in California, so I can do a write-in with impunity. Sure glad I don't live in a swing state this time.

Posted by: Claudius | Sep 29, 2004 9:12:20 PM

"P.S. - so the bush-hatred has nothing to do with the nonstop stream of bushitler propaganda?"

For everyone i know that doesn't like bush (and that is most people i know) the "nonstop stream of bushitler propaganda" is nothing more than a confirmation of everything they (and i) have thought about bush for as long as he has been in office. Now, i live in NYC and was here for the 9/11 attacks and I, like most other anti-bushers, was really behind him at that time. I supported the invasion of afganistan and when iraq came up, even though it seemed an off idea, i tried to convince myself and others that there was no way even Bush would lead us into a war over false information or even worse, oil. Bush had a real chance to bring the world together after 9/11 and he failed miserably. i held on desperately to my belief that our president would not lead us astray - no matter how little i really liked him - for as long as i possibly could. the more i've read and listened and educated myself, the more i've come to see just how bad this administration is for our country, our world, and our future. No one is saying that Kerry is perfect. I get the feeling from his general demeanor that he is deeply scarred by his time in vietnam and that that time in his life has affected his personality. Someone, like Bush, that has never had to endure anything outside his silver spoon will and does have a lot easier time coming off as a care-free man of the people than Kerry ever could. But that does not make him a good leader. Staying true to a vision is not a strength when the vision you are staying true to is wrong for the world. America should be a shining example to the world - of peace and hope and freedom. Bush had his chance to lead and look where we've gotten. We are not evolving the way we are now. I truly believe that the only chance we have is with a fresh start.

Posted by: Kristin | Sep 30, 2004 10:28:57 AM

Kristin, I respect your choice. If I lived in, say, Oregon, I'd probably also "hold my nose" and vote for Kerry. But in California? I think I'll lob a "protest" vote.
Good luck in keeping on keeping on, no matter what happens.
Your fellow American,
Claudius

Posted by: Claudius | Sep 30, 2004 4:05:40 PM

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