Skip to comments.A Snapshot in Time: Putting Bush-Kerry poll numbers in perspective.
Posted on 02/04/2004 6:28:46 AM PST by xsysmgr
When reviewing the recent Bush-Kerry polling it's important to keep in mind that surveys are only a snapshot of the electorate's opinions at one point in time.
A CNN/Gallup/USA Today/Democratic National Committee (kidding on that last part... maybe) survey of 1,001 American adults January 29-February 1, 2004 showed John Kerry defeating President Bush 53 percent to 46 percent.
A Newsweek survey of 1,022 registered voters taken at the same time showed Kerry defeating Bush 48 percent to 46 percent.
Are the results worrisome? Sure.
Are the results predictable? Yes. Most incumbents have a rough patch when their challenger is introduced, and the Bush team has warned all along that this is likely.
Are they predictive of the electoral result this November? No, and there are four
(4) reasons why these numbers may have no bearing at all on reality in November 2004.
#1. Kerry's Free Media Bonanza
These surveys were taken in the midst of John Kerry's free media bonanza. The press has a new frontrunner and is simply relieved not to have Dean at the top of a losing ticket. Instead, they have focused on biography (Vietnam service) and horse-race coverage ("he's electable").
This breathless coverage has given him the equivalent of a more modest national convention bounce. He should enjoy it.
Kerry's numbers are being inflated by positive coverage that will eventually melt like March snow. It is probably not a stretch to state that the only things the average voter knows about John Kerry at this point are:
He fought in Vietnam and is occasionally hugged by veterans.
He looks like a president.
He is a Democrat.
He is more "electable" than Howard Dean.
He is angry with George W. Bush.
This will change.
#2. Press scrutiny will follow.
As liberal as the media still is, they have to produce something on a regular basis. Eventually that something will approximate actual scrutiny of a frontrunner. Among the topics the press will eventually explore at length are (a) Kerry's tortuously long voting record, (b) Kerry's attempt to straddle what are, in essence, binary issues of war, abortion, and culture, (c) the Massachusetts / Ted Kennedy / Michael Dukakis albatross, and (d) the personal details of his life, his wife, and whatever ridiculous psychobabble they can weave out of his past. None of these will do him any good.
The media giveth and the media taketh away.
#3. Bush's $100 Million
The Bush campaign has not yet spoken. Sure, some surrogates have touched down in a few states, but the Strategic Air Command of the Bush team BIG MEDIA, has yet to launch.
This is an enormous factor in the president's advantage. The Kerry camp, even with their decision not to limit themselves to matching funds in the primary, is at a severe disadvantage here. At most the Kerry campaign has a few million dollars in the bank and still has to spend on the primary. The Bush team has 100 million dollars. Who would you rather be?
Given Kerry's rise, it's not illogical to expect a ferocious Bush ad blitz sooner rather than later. The reason here is that Kerry wouldn't have the money to respond to this onslaught and that it would allow the Bush campaign to reposition Kerry in the minds of the voters before they have a chance to build a solid, and more positive, mental picture of him. This logic becomes even more compelling if Kerry's momentum does not ebb in early February.
#4. The culture war narrows the margins either candidate can actually generate.
The coming campaign won't be pretty. America is a house divided against itself, and the division is over fundamental values. Our firm's polling finds this phenomenon time and time again. The best predictor (excluding party registration and race) of vote behavior in 21st-century America is church attendance.
The basic value sets upon which this cultural war are based are so fundamental to life view that they are increasingly difficult to finesse. Because the electorate is becoming more polarized on these fundamental cultural issues, each candidates' potential vote is more restricted than it would otherwise be in a different environment. To put it more bluntly, Bush cannot get votes on many parts of the two coasts, because the voters not only hold different values, they see his values as a threat. Likewise, Kerry cannot get votes in many parts of the interior of our nation because the voters not only hold different values, but they see his values as a threat.
Campaigns are about differences. The differences will be stark and polarizing, and these differences are more likely to pull Kerry's undefined vote support down than they are to impact President Bush. After all, the voters know who the President is, but they know very little about Kerry.
John Kerry should enjoy these poll numbers while they last, because his free ride is about to end.
Robert Moran is a vice president at Republican polling firm Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates. He is an NRO contributor.
If you want to know how useful these January poll nos. are, ask President Robert Dole and President Walter Mondale.
Yeah: like Abe Lincoln on a bad day :-(
But on to my aggravation du jour:
Steve Murphy, Gehbardt's campaign director and Tony Cohello, former DNC Chairman were on FOXNews this morning to discuss....get this....Kerry beating Bush because Bush has done nothing to repair the hatred he inspired after Florida.
So much for fair and balanced!!
No it's not. This is entirely expected and predictable. The White House is paying attention but nobody with any political experience is overly concerned. John Kerry's going to have his day in the sun. Hope he enjoys it because it's not going to last.
Well they're right of course...that's the same reason jeb lost his re-election bid in FL. Remember?
Kerry was #2 after Dean only weeks ago.
Second fiddle will be drowned out by the entire orchestra that is tuning up in the White House.
Yep, and that's the real key. How many people even know what state Kerry is from or that he was Lt. Gov. to Micheal Dukakis, or that Kerry wants to raise taxes....There is a campaign to run yet.
When Mel Gibson's movie comes out, there will be a bump in church attendance and support for W. Ya think?
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