April 20, 2004


Poll Shows New Gains for Bush: Lead Over Kerry Widens On Issues of Security (Richard Morin and Dan Balz, Washington Post, 4/20/04)

President Bush holds significant advantages over John F. Kerry in public perceptions of who is better equipped to deal with Iraq and the war on terrorism, and he has reduced the advantages his Democratic challenger held last month on many domestic issues, according to a Washington Post-ABC News Poll.

The poll also found that Iraq and the war on terrorism have surged in importance, and ranked with the economy and jobs as top voting issues. Despite signs of concern among Americans about the violence in Iraq, the poll showed Bush's approval ratings holding steady and Kerry's slipping on a variety of issues and attributes.
I'm not going to pretend that polling in April is meaningful just because it underscores my political savvy -- but: keeping the discussion on Iraq helps the President. Of course, keeping the discussion on the economy helps the President. Keeping the discussion on the War on Terror helps the President. I'd suggest that Kerry try keeping the focus on ketchup, but who do we suspect eats more ketchup?

Posted by David Cohen at April 20, 2004 4:03 PM

An accurate poll?

Isn't that called "election results?"

Posted by: Timothy at April 20, 2004 4:46 PM

Kerry's predicament could be such that even discussion on whether the Red Sox will finally win a World Series could swing Bush's way. Especially if they play the Cubs, since Sosa was traded to Chicago by Bush...

Posted by: MG at April 20, 2004 5:14 PM

Polls are a good snapshot, but a lousy peek into the future, and they get worse as time goes on.

At any rate, it's not a good idea to underestimate Kerry. He was practically counted out before Iowa, yet he wound up winning the whole shebang. I'm not saying he'll repeat this performance, but it is a possibility.

Posted by: Derek Copold at April 20, 2004 5:58 PM

Keeping the discussion on Kerry seems to help the President, too.

How did this incompetent dufus keep getting elected? (Besides having the Stupid Party to run against?) What did this country do to Mass. that they keep inflicting these morons and Kennedys on the rest of us?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 20, 2004 6:05 PM

Dick Morris has just come out with an editorial stating that Bush is in trouble so my guess is that the poll is accurate.

Posted by: TCB at April 20, 2004 6:10 PM

Dick Morris was also assuring us in 2000 that New York would never elect Hillary senator. This doesn't mean Morris is wrong, but you can't take his word to the bank, either.

Posted by: Derek Copold at April 20, 2004 6:32 PM

I don't pay attention to polls. I do think that, based on what I'm offered on the street, the contest is a lot closer than you might expect, considering the glaring problems with Kerry's policies, votes, statements, finances and, perhaps, war record.

But at least among people who stop me to talk politics (a largish fraction of the people on the island), that stuff isn't sinking in.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 20, 2004 6:38 PM

While early polling does have its place within the campagin, the proliferation of polls over the past 20 years is simply the media's way of creating an easy story. No need to go out and work up any new information for the public, when you can commission a poll and kill 12-20 inches of news copy in a paper or 2-3 minutes of TV air time discussing the results and "the meaning of it all."

On the positive side, the press actually did give the latest numbers a decent profile. The last time the polls showed a Bush uptick two months ago, they were buried by some of the media outlets that paid big bucks to have them conducted in the first place.

Posted by: John at April 20, 2004 11:01 PM

In the last several months some of the campus shuttle drivers here have started to listen to talk radio, including Michael Savage, instead of music. The shocking thing is that none of the faculty or students who ride the shuttle must be complaining, as I was sure would happen the first time I heard it. If such a thing can happen on a college campus, the political climate sure has changed.

Posted by: brian at April 21, 2004 12:18 AM

I used to work for the company that also ran the "respected" Iowa Poll, as the big city reporters always called it.

They never explained why it was respected, but the reason was that, when doing political questioning, the Iowa Poll asked only political questions, and it took a respectable sample.

Except right before the elections, polls like Gallup take very small samples (typically 1,500 for Gallup) and tack on a few political questions at the end of a commercial survey that sometimes runs 90 minutes.

In other words, Gallup is based on the political ideas of that fraction of the American public that has nothing better to do than spend an hour and a half answering questions about feminine hygiene.

All the pundits thought the Iowa Poll was the berries. But in the 1980 election, it picked the Democrat to win the Senate race and he lost.

There was a lot of soulsearching in the editorial offices after that, and the poll even went into hibernation for a while.

So that's why I don't pay any attention to polls.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 21, 2004 2:35 PM