October 21, 2004
HAVING WON THE DEBATES THE PRESIDENT KICKS FOR HOME (via Michael Herdegen):
What the polls are telling us (Michael Barone, 10/20/04, US News)
One week after the third and final presidential debate, there are enough post-debate polls to tell us where the election stands today. Here the results are gathered together by realclearpolitics.com. These are for the three-way pairings, plus the two-way pairings by Rasmussen, which doesn't ask a three-way question. Bush's percentages are listed first.
Fox News 49-42
Washington Post/ABC 51-46
CBS News 47-45
Note that George W. Bush's percentages range from 45 to 52 percent while John Kerry's percentages range from 42 to 47 percent. In only one poll does Bush fall below 47 percent, which is Kerry's highest percentage.
It seems highly likely that Bush emerged from the debates a little bit ahead. Some Kerry backers argue that voters who are still undecided are likely to end up voting against the incumbent.
Actually, at the presidential level undecideds tend to break towards the incumbent.
Posted by Orrin Judd at October 21, 2004 8:27 AM
I was watching that insipid VH1 show "Best Week Ever" and the announcer says, "Everyone agrees that John Kerry *swept* the debates!" Yes, every low-rent C-list pseudocelebrity they could get for this show thought John Kerry won. But really, the question the country hungers to have answered is, "Who is Paris Hilton voting for?" These stupid gossip shows are a guilty pleasure for me. I keep thinking, "I probably should be watching C-Span right now."
I've seen Bush's approval ratings (over 50%) and it appears that those are pretty important. Things could change and that is why we have elections.
Historically incumbent presidents poll approval rating +1%.
In other words W needs approval and/or vote preference in the 52-53% range if we want confidence in Electoral College results.
"Actually, at the presidential level undecideds tend to break towards the incumbent."
Do you have any stats for that argument? It didn't happen in 1996 or 1992, to my knowledge. Clinton was hurt by the Chinese campaign finance scandal and Bush by the outrageous indictment.
And Dick Morris, who has said that Bush was gaining toward the end of the 92 election. Also Gerald Ford, who came from 30 points back to lose by 2 in 1976. (And does anyone even know about Reagan in '84 and Nixon in '72, as both were routs anyway?)
If undecideds broke for the challenger, don't you think we would have seen more than 3 incumbents lose elections in the 20th century?
There's mixed evidence on the undecideds-break-for-incumbent, but in this case -
1. Thanks to incessant bashing by the media, Bush was starting from an unusually low position in the polls, and every day he goes out and states his case helps him, as it would normally help a challenger the voters are unfamiliar with.
2. Bush has an unattractive opponent, and the more voters learn of Kerry the less they'll like him.
So I think this year, people will break Bush's way. But they'd better, because the fraud will break the Dems way.