September 7, 2004


It's Not an 11-Point Race (John Zogby, 09/07/2004, Zogby International)

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.


Two paths to the same end (Ronald Brownstein, 23-08-2004, LA Times)

Post-election surveys in 2002 showed that Republicans outnumbered Democrats among voters, 38 per cent to 35 per cent.

The (Finally) Emerging Republican Majority: GOP officials don't like to talk about it, but they have become the dominant party (Fred Barnes, 10/27/03, Weekly Standard)
California is no longer a reliably Democratic state. Until the October 7 recall that replaced Democratic governor Gray Davis with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republicans hadn't won a major statewide race since 1994. Bush spent millions there in 2000 but lost California by 11 points to Al Gore, who spent zilch in the state.

Yet in the recall, Republicans captured 62 percent of the vote. Bush's approval rating was slightly positive (49 to 48 percent), roughly the same as in other states. In the Fox News exit poll, 39 percent of voters identified themselves as Democrats, 37 percent as Republicans--a big GOP gain since last year when the Democratic lead was 7 or 8 points. A solid majority of women voted to recall Davis and elect a Republican. According to the Los Angeles Times exit poll, 41 percent of Latinos voted for a Republican governor--over a Latino Democrat, Cruz Bustamante. California is now competitive.

Democrats insist the recall merely showed anger against incumbents. In fact, it showed California was catching up with a powerful Republican trend over the past decade. In 1992, Democrats captured 51 percent of the total vote in House races to 46 percent for Republicans. By 2002, those numbers had flipped--Republicans 51 percent, Democrats 46 percent. And Republicans have held their House majority over five elections, including two in which Democratic presidential candidates won the popular vote. They won 230 House seats in 1994, 226 in 1996, 223 in 1998, 221 in 2000, and 229 in 2002. They also won Senate control in those elections. [...]

In 1992, Democrats captured 59 percent of state legislative seats (4,344 to 3,031 for Republicans). Ten years later, Republicans won their first majority (3,684 to 3,626) of state legislators since 1952. In 1992, Democrats controlled the legislatures of 25 states to 8 for Republicans, while the others had split control. Today, Republicans rule 21 legislatures to 16 for Democrats. Governors? Republicans had 18 in 1992, Democrats 30. Today, Republicans hold 27 governorships, Democrats 23.

Not to belabor dry numbers, but Republicans have also surged in party identification. Go back to 1982, the year of the first midterm election of Ronald Reagan's presidency. The Harris Poll found Democrats had a 14-point edge (40 to 26 percent) as the party with which voters identified. By 1992, the Democratic edge was 6 points (36 to 30 percent) and last year, President Bush's midterm election, it was 3 points (34 to 31 percent).

But the Harris Poll tilts slightly Democratic. (In fact, I believe most polls underestimate Republican ID because of nominal Democrats who routinely vote Republican.)The 2000 national exit poll showed Republicans and Democrats tied at 34 percent. A Republican poll after the 2002 elections gave the party a 3- to 4-point edge. Based on his own poll in July, Democrat Mark Penn (who once polled for Bill Clinton) declared: "In terms of the percentage of voters who identify themselves as Democrats, the Democratic party is currently in its weakest position since the dawn of the New Deal." His survey pegged Democratic ID at 32 percent, Republican ID at 30 percent. A half-century ago, 49 percent of voters said they were Democrats. Today, wrote Penn, "among middle class voters, the Democratic party is a shadow of its former self."

Bush Will Bury Kerry: The Democrat will be lucky to exceed Michael Dukakis's share of the popular vote. (BRENDAN MINITER, September 7, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

For nearly four years now, we've been told this is a 50-50 nation, that red and blue America are so evenly divided that even a small misstep could swing this presidential election either way. The media may have their own reasons for sticking to the story line--drama is good for ratings, after all--but there's mounting evidence that the electorate is not nearly as evenly divided as it was in 2000; that come Nov. 2, newscasters are going to be putting a lot more red than blue on their electoral maps. I will make a prediction here: Mr. Kerry will be lucky to top the 45.7% of the popular vote Michael Dukakis got in 1988.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 7, 2004 4:09 PM

I take Zogby with a grain of salt for three reasons.

1) He's clearly pulling for Kerry and against the current adminiatration for a number of reasons that come out in in his non-presidential poll writings.

2) He wrote a highly publicized article a few months ago that the election was Kerry's to lose. (This is the first time I heard about Kerry's mythical closing capability.) He's not going to take on this embarrassment before he has to. (He did leave himself an out and can plausibly say that it was Kerry's to lose and he lost it, but that will have to come later.)

3) Throughout the Democratic Primaries he was off the beam most of the time and then a day or so before the vote a "late shift among the voters" would bring his poll in line with everybody elses'. I look for a similar shift in late October.

Posted by: Jeff at September 7, 2004 4:53 PM

Unless my math is very much mistaken (which is quite possible...), even if you scale down the Republican percentage to 32.8%, which scales Dems up to 33.7% and independent up to 33.4%, Bush still comes away with an 8 point lead in the Newsweek poll. As sullen Dems stay home and angry Lefties vote for Nader or Cobb, that very easily balloons up to 11+.

Posted by: Timothy at September 7, 2004 4:55 PM


Further to your point, if I recall correctly, the 11-point margin in the Newsweek poll is adjusted for Republican oversampling. If they did not adjust for their estimate of turnout demographics, and used raw percentages, the margin was closer to 16 points.

Posted by: sam at September 7, 2004 5:12 PM

Its not just the sample size, but also the weighting.

You can accurately poll 400 Republicans, 200 Democrats and 200 Independents -- IF you weight them correctly. In my example, by perhaps 2x the results of both Dems and Independants before calculating the final result.

This is, apparently, what the Time people in fact did. Zogby either missed this or, disingenuously, attempted to downplay the poll results.

Bush is clearly up and Kerry is clearly down. That will suffice for me until Nov. 2.

Posted by: AML at September 7, 2004 5:13 PM

If you were a terrorist who would you vote for? Kerry or Bush? I rest my case.

Posted by: genecis at September 7, 2004 7:37 PM

I don't think terrorists believe in democracy.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at September 8, 2004 4:52 AM

Terrorists will vote for anyone who makes it easier to engage in terrorist activity, just as criminals will never vote for a law and order candidate. Zogby's brother is one of America's leading apologists for Muslim terror. Zogby himself is on the Saudi payroll, as his own website indicates.

If Kerry is elected, it will be a sign that America has surrendered in the War on Terrorism, which is what the Zogbys, their buddies at CAIR and the Saudi brigands want.

Posted by: Bart at September 8, 2004 7:29 AM