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Real Clear Politics ^ | Monday, September 20 2004 | J. McIntyre

Posted on 09/20/2004 10:42:12 AM PDT by COURAGE



Monday, September 20 2004
The simple answer is Senator Kerry is losing. After months of a presidential race that was more or less a tie, President Bush has broken out to a 5-7 point lead nationally. With so many polls being released these days the best way to filter out much of the noise is to follow our RCP Poll Average.

Kerry began to fade at the beginning of August and Bush very effectively used the convention in New York to break out of the Bush +2/Kerry +2 race that had existed for months. This can be seen very clearly in the historical graph of the RCP Poll Average.

Some of the polls at the end of last week created quite a stir as two (Pew Research and Harris) showed the race tied, while Gallup's poll had President Bush ahead by 13-14 points. Over the weekend the CBS/NY Times poll came out showing Bush ahead 9, while Zogby had Kerry only trailing by three points.

Some like to quibble with Gallup's "likely-voter" model and suggest that registered voters are a much better way to look at the race at this time, but Gallup's registered voters results still show the President ahead by eight points, the same amount Bush is ahead among registered voters in the CBS/NY Times poll. All of the chatter about registered voters vs. likely voters, and weighting for party ID vs not weighting for party ID is missing the central point. The bottom line is that Senator Kerry is trailing by significant margins, in significant polls, in mid-September. That is not good news for Democrats.

Other evidence points to Bush indeed having moved out to a real lead. The polls in the battleground states where this election was always going to be decided have moved significantly toward the President in the last three weeks. The battleground has shifted under the Democrats' feet and the Kerry campaign's hope to be fighting on GOP ground in Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee, North Carolina, Arkansas and Virginia has all but disappeared. Instead Kerry is fighting for his life in the Democratic-leaning states of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Mexico, and most importantly Pennsylvania.

Gore carried Pennsylvania in 2000 by 4.2%. Right now Kerry leads in only one of the last seven polls and he trails President Bush by 1.7% in our RCP Pennsylvania Average. Using the average of those seven polls taken the first couple of weeks in September, Kerry is running around six points behind where Gore was in 2000 which seems to confirm the idea that Bush is ahead 5-7 points nationally.

In the critical states of Ohio, Missouri, and Wisconsin Bush is running 4-5 points better than his pace in 2000. Michigan, Colorado and West Virginia are the only states where there are positive polls for Kerry. And unlike PA, WI, OH and MO where there are multiple polls confirming Bush's breakout, we only have one non-partisan poll in MI, CO, and WV helping Kerry. As more polls come out in these three states those remaining positive areas could move against Kerry as well.

Because of all the hurricanes in Florida there has been only one poll recently, but that one has Bush up 6 and provides more confirmation of where his lead sits nationally.

Finally, you have states like New Jersey that should be a solid Kerry state where the three latest polls show a tight race. Needless to say, all of this state polling news is not good news for Democrats. While the Kerry camp can cherry pick one state poll here or there, it appears pretty clear that the balance of the state polling evidence confirms a Bush lead of at least 4-7 points as opposed to a "dead-heat" race.

On top of all the polling evidence just looking at which side is changing advisors, direction, message, etc.... is all you need to know about which campaign is ahead and comfortable with the existing dynamics of the race.

One problem (among many) for the Kerry campaign is that a 5-7 point hole in a country that is as polarized as today's is more like a 10-12 point deficit 15-25 years ago. Kerry wasted his opportunities to break out to a lead of his own with his non-helpful VP selection and say-nothing convention. And with all the pounding Bush has taken for the last eight months Kerry isn't left with many attractive options on how to get the needed 270 Electoral Votes.

Senator Kerry needs to get this race back to within 3-4 points in our RCP Poll Average by the first debate in ten days, or these poll numbers will start to harden and he will need a debate meltdown by the President to have a chance. J. McIntyre 8:42 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Thursday, September 16 2004
It's pretty remarkable to watch one of the icons of the news business try to single handedly lower the bar of the journalistic profession to save his own hide. Last night Dan Rather looked America in the eye and told us that "fake but accurate" is good enough - at least for him and his pals at CBS News. It's not. And the manner with which Rather has conducted himself in this and in other incidents makes you wonder just how mobile the bar of professionalism might have been for him throughout the years.

There are two great ironies to be gleaned from Rather's fantastic act of self-immolation this past week. The first is that Rather has now confirmed that the "pajama people" have higher ethical and journalistic standards than he does.

Just days ago Rather was deriding the Internet and the blogosphere as "the professional rumor mill." That statement shows a fundamental misunderstanding of who bloggers are and what they do. The blogosphere is indeed a living, swirling mass of opinion and commentary but, thanks to the wonder of hyperlinking and search technology like Google, it's also a very transparent, self-correcting environment ultimately based on facts. Hoaxes can be spread via the Internet, but they can't exist there for very long in today's environment without being challenged and debunked. The mainstream media is just beginning to understand the velocity and the ferocity with which the blogosphere processes, analyzes and scrutinizes information.

The second irony of this episode is that Dan Rather threw his entire career and reputation away on a story that didn't matter. More than anything else this shows just how out of touch Rather, the Democrats, and the rest of the mainstream media are - especially when it comes to this election.

Rather was so convinced this story was a game-breaker for Bush that he threw journalistic caution to the wind to get it on air. But even had all of the allegations in the story been true (as opposed to a collection of forgeries and hearsay) it wouldn't have made any difference with the public. The National Guard story is old news and no amount of rehashing is going to make it new again.

The bottom line is that Dan Rather and Andrew Heyward should go. Not next year or in 2006 but now. I don't know if it will happen or not - I'm inclined to think they will both stick around - but the longer Rather and Heyward continue on as the controlling forces at CBS News the further the credibility of their organization will sink.

THE OTHER SOROS: Earlier in the week Drudge linked to this story about my alma mater which reported that John Kerry has racked up $40,950 in donations from Princeton University employees while President Bush has only received one single donation of $250.

The lopsidedness of financial support at Princeton and elsewhere is depressing because it reflects the continuing, near-universal death grip of liberal orthodoxy throughout academia, which only a fool would argue doesn't make its way into the classroom every day.

What caught my attention, however, was this blurb at the end of the article about Peter Lewis:

Lewis and close friend George Soros have each pledged $10 million to America Coming Together, a 527 dedicated to defeating Bush through get-out-the-vote efforts in swing states such as Lewis' native Ohio.

Lewis, the former chairman of Progressive, Inc., has already donated more than $11 million to other anti-Bush groups, according to the Center for Public Integrity. His current total is $14.3 million, making him the single largest donor for any election cycle.

Soros has gotten all of the press, but most people don't know that Lewis is just as influential and has actually contributed nearly $2 million more than Soros thus far. He's helping to fund just about every anti-Bush group under the sun, including a $50,000 donation to PunkVoter Inc. which is trying to mobilize the influential punk rock community to vote against Bush with a series of concerts across the country and with high-minded messages like this one on their web site.

Look at this list of the top individual donors to 527's. So far, twenty-five individuals have contributed $58,218,283 to these groups. Of that total, 97% has gone to liberal and/or anti-Bush organizations and Soros and Lewis are responsible for nearly half of that money ($26,830,000) just between the two of them.

Those are astonishing sums of money being spent to try and influence this year's election. Even more astonishing is that the money comes from people like Soros, who from 1997 to 2001 spent $4.7 million bankrolling the effort to enact campaign finance reform to get money out of politics. The word "hypocrisy" doesn't begin do justice here. - T. Bevan 9:55 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Wednesday, September 15 2004
There's been a flood of state polls out over the last forty-eight hours, most of it showing a continuing deterioration in John Kerry's position in the Electoral College.

First, the bright spots. A new Gallup poll shows Kerry maintaining a 6-point lead in Michigan and a Minnesota Star-Tribune poll released today shows him with a conspicuously large 9-point lead over Bush.

The big news, however, is in Wisconsin where three new polls by Gallup, Rasmussen, and Strategic Vision show Bush moving ahead of Kerry by 10, 2 and 8 points, respectively. (Note to future candidates: Wisconsin voters do not think highly of people who think the Packers home stadium is called "Lambert Field.").

Because of the shift in Bush's direction, we've moved Wisconsin in our RCP Electoral Count from "toss up" to "leaning Bush." As a result, Bush now leads Kerry 279-228.

We still have three states listed as toss ups: NV, NM, and PA. In Pennsylvania - a state Kerry must win to have any hope - the race remains a dead tie. In Nevada and New Mexico, the most recent polls out of each of those states that aren't Zogby online polls have Bush ahead, though narrowly.

In other potentially ominous news for the Kerry camp, the polling out of New Jersey shows that it's getting awfully close to becoming a "toss up" state as well. And two new polls out of New York today also show significant movement in Bush's direction, though the bottom would have to fall out of the Kerry campaign for him to lose the state.

Ironically for the Democrats, the bad news in the polls for their presidential nominee is juxtaposed with some pretty good news for their hopes in the Senate. In Florida, a new poll shows Betty Castor narrowly leading Mel Martinez and in Oklahoma Brad Carson has inched ahead of Tom Coburn. (Incidentally, we've put together a new page rounding up all the latest polls in the competitive Senate races this year.) There's a lot of race left, of course, but holding Florida and stealing Oklahoma would be huge for the Democrats. - T. Bevan 11:42 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Monday, September 13 2004
On Friday last week John Kerry was in Missouri thanking "his good friend" Dick Gephardt in glowing language. Unfortunately, I don't have a transcript of his remarks, but it went something like: "this is a man I've known for over twenty years who is the most decent, most honorable.... a man who fights for the average guy, a man who cares deeply about the country..........." The emotion from Kerry seemed genuine and heartfelt, and I got the feeling he really believed it. I also got the feeling Kerry wished he had chosen Dick Gephardt as his running mate.

This made me think about Kerry's actual running mate, John Edwards. At the time of Edwards announcement I wrote:

While this pick may play well in the next three weeks I don't know how well it is going to work after Labor Day when the real contest begins....The Edwards pick is a poll-driven mistake...This is a very serious election, and the Bush-Cheney campaign will make that abundantly clear. Kerry would have been better off with the safe, solid choice of Dick Gephardt who at least would have helped potentially win Missouri.

Senator Edwards did give Kerry a little bounce, which can be seen in a our historical chart of the RCP Poll Average. A week before Kerry's VP announcement Bush was up about two points and a week after Edwards was chosen the Kerry/Edwards ticket had moved to roughly a three point lead. So Edwards delivered about a five point bounce that subsequently faded during the rest of July as Kerry headed into his convention in Boston.

But now we are in the middle of September, and you have to wonder just what John Edwards is bringing to the table. The contrast with Dick Cheney that all the pundits were atwitter about in early July suddenly doesn't look so great from the Kerry perspective.

Yesterday the Washington Post ran a front page story from Dan Balz on how 'Kerry's battlefield is shrinking':

As the number of truly competitive states has shrunk, Kerry is faced with the reality that he must pick off one of two big battlegrounds Bush won four years ago -- Florida or Ohio -- or capture virtually every other state still available.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone with a calculator and a 2004 electoral map, especially the professional operatives in the Kerry campaign. Balz continues:

The Massachusetts senator spent much of the summer trying to expand the number of battleground states with television advertising and campaign trips to places such as Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana and Virginia.

Arizona, Colorado Louisiana and Virginia? It's not complicated to figure out that if these states are close Bush is finished. So what was their strategy in spending time and money in states that they were only going to carry if they didn't need them to win the election? Maybe they bought in to the conventional wisdom over the summer that Bush was in big, big trouble. Whatever the strategic rationale, it was a major mistake and a misallocation of resources.

With the wasted money and time in states they don't have a prayer of carrying and a VP nominee that can't make a difference in any state that will matter, the Kerry folks have boxed themselves into an electoral corner. So now they are not only staring at how they get this race back to even in the national polls but also how they are going to piece together the necessary 270 Electoral Votes.

Because of the unwise choice of Edwards as a running mate, even if Kerry pulls back to even in the national polls his route to 270 electoral votes is a big problem - and almost impossible if he can't win either Florida or Ohio. Had he chosen Gephardt and put Missouri into play, the Kerry campaign's electoral math would look considerably kinder. Flipping Missouri alone would get Kerry over 270 EV's, and flipping Missouri and New Hampshire would allow for the loss of New Mexico. Wining Missouri, New Hampshire and Nevada would have allowed Kerry to lose Wisconsin and still win the election.

Of course, it is not a sure thing that Gephardt would have been able to deliver Missouri. Given Gallup's latest poll showing Bush ahead by fourteen, maybe even Dick Gephardt wouldn't have been able to deliver his home state. But unlike North Carolina, Missouri is a much more competitive state for Democrats, and in a close election where Kerry had a chance to win, one would think Missouri with Dick Gephardt on the ticket would have been very much in play.

This electoral logic also applied to either Senators Nelson and Graham in Florida. And with 27 Electoral Votes compared to Missouri's 11, the damage to the Bush reelection hopes of flipping Florida would have been decisive.

Instead, Kerry is stuck with a running mate who brings nothing except a pretty smile. The Kerry campaign had run a pretty darn good campaign through June, but starting with the Edwards choice, a wasted convention, an insane comment at the Grand Canyon and no answer to his Vietnam and antiwar past, Kerry has dug himself what may be an insurmountable hole. - J. McIntyre 9:15 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Sunday, September 12, 2004
David Broder attacks the Bush administration's policies in the Middle East and suggests John Kerry isn't much better in his Washington Post column today. He points to Michael Kraig of the Muscatine, Iowa-based Stanley Foundation as a person to look to for a better perspective. But I have to question the wisdom of this man's perspective when later on in the article he says:

In this context," Kraig wrote, "a serious question was raised: Why is so much international and global pressure exerted on Iran . . . while Israel, with its own alleged WMD arsenal, is forgotten?"

Maybe because Israel is a democracy. Maybe because Israel doesn't support and fund terrorism. Maybe because Israel didn't kidnap 54 Americans and hold them for 444 days. Maybe because Israel isn't run by theocratic fascists who just might be willing to nuke a city or two while chanting "Allah is Great."

I don't know how much "perspective" on Middle East policy I would want to get from a guy or group that doesn't understand why the world is concerned about the mullahs in Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and not Israel who has had nukes for over 30 years. J. McIntyre 1:41 pm Link | Email | Send to a Friend

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TOPICS: Editorial; Politics/Elections; US: Florida; US: Missouri; US: New Jersey; US: New Mexico; US: Pennsylvania; US: Tennessee; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: bush; kerry
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Is Kerry toast? I'm starting to smell burn donkey.
1 posted on 09/20/2004 10:42:12 AM PDT by COURAGE
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2 posted on 09/20/2004 10:46:24 AM PDT by EggsAckley (............."........let them go naked for a while".......scary Terri Kerry............)
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thew key at this point is the debates
if kerry kicks bootie in the debates he may win
if Bush holds his own and is seen as more likeable and wins then a landslide ensues

3 posted on 09/20/2004 10:46:27 AM PDT by DM1
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Or maybe you're smelling cooked goose.........

4 posted on 09/20/2004 10:47:04 AM PDT by EggsAckley (............."........let them go naked for a while".......scary Terri Kerry............)
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Gee, and to think just a couple weeks ago, this race was "Kerry's to lose."

Wow. I guess the sun is rising after all, eh COURAGE?

5 posted on 09/20/2004 10:47:11 AM PDT by TBarnett34 (The Democrats: 9/10 girlie-men in a 9/11 world)
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To: TBarnett34

And Kerry is doing a very good job of losing.

6 posted on 09/20/2004 10:49:01 AM PDT by COURAGE (A charter member of the Grim FReeper Club)
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What I don't get is the fluctuation in his job approval ratings. Last week he was at 54% and one poll has him at 44% this week .... a stark contrast during an otherwise newsless week (Hurricane Ivan being the main event.) What I suspect here is selective polling by some who are trying to get Kerry back into the race.

7 posted on 09/20/2004 10:49:58 AM PDT by CurlyBill (John Kerry is PeeWee Herman in a Frankenstein costume)
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Comment #8 Removed by Moderator

To: TBarnett34
come on, don't be too hard on old 'COURAGE', he just has a more nuanced view of the presidential race!
9 posted on 09/20/2004 10:51:13 AM PDT by flashbunny (RINO's pleading for unity means they want to sabotage the republican party in peace.)
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To: Coop

I love red x's.

10 posted on 09/20/2004 10:51:41 AM PDT by COURAGE (A charter member of the Grim FReeper Club)
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I hate to sound like a Gloomy Gus, but I am really afraid of what the Donks are going to be able to do with $50,000,000.00 of George Soros and Peter Lewis' "Walking Around" money on election day. The President is going to have to go into the day up by 10 points to defeat that kind of last-minute vote-buying money.

11 posted on 09/20/2004 10:52:11 AM PDT by gridlock (BARTENDER: Why the long face? HORSE: Ha ha, old joke. BARTENDER: I was talking to Kerry!)
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To: Coop

"Comment #8 Removed by Moderator"

12 posted on 09/20/2004 10:52:59 AM PDT by COURAGE (A charter member of the Grim FReeper Club)
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To: gridlock
Bush must be up 5% over Kerry, since DemocRATS vote early and often.
13 posted on 09/20/2004 10:54:01 AM PDT by COURAGE (A charter member of the Grim FReeper Club)
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To: CurlyBill

"What I don't get is the fluctuation in his job approval ratings. Last week he was at 54% and one poll has him at 44% this week .... a stark contrast during an otherwise newsless week (Hurricane Ivan being the main event.) What I suspect here is selective polling by some who are trying to get Kerry back into the race."

Realclearpolitics has the average JA for President Bush at 50.3 from the last 4 major polls. The lowest has been Zogby at 47%. Zogby 'called' this race for Kerry already so he has revealed his partisan agenda.

14 posted on 09/20/2004 10:54:16 AM PDT by plushaye (President Bush - Four more years! Thanks Swifties.)
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To: Coop


15 posted on 09/20/2004 10:54:35 AM PDT by TBarnett34 (The Democrats: 9/10 girlie-men in a 9/11 world)
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(Note to future candidates: Wisconsin voters do not think highly of people who think the Packers home stadium is called "Lambert Field.").

Thats priceless. LOL!

16 posted on 09/20/2004 10:54:50 AM PDT by BureaucratusMaximus ("We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good" - Hillary Clinton)
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17 posted on 09/20/2004 10:55:33 AM PDT by Fiddlstix (This Tagline for sale. (Presented by TagLines R US))
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FWIW, on the Iowa Electronic market today:

DEM04 - 0.384 (down 0.068 since 8/30)
REP04 - 0.610 (up 0.061 since 8/30)

18 posted on 09/20/2004 11:01:55 AM PDT by Bob
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To: Fiddlstix
In the interest of bandwidth, I'm reposting my #8 above:

Welcome to the 2004 Presidential race, brought to you by Kerry supporter COURAGE! Please keep your hands inside the car at all times.

19 posted on 09/20/2004 11:04:58 AM PDT by Coop (In memory of a true hero - Pat Tillman)
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To: plushaye

Not to mention Zogby's brother's leanings. My earlier post was off by one point.... Harris has the job approval rating at 45% ... But we know that his is a flawed poll and does not reflect what the other polls are all reflecting. I just think there are games being played here in a desperate attempt to keep Kerry in it.

20 posted on 09/20/2004 11:05:36 AM PDT by CurlyBill (John Kerry is PeeWee Herman in a Frankenstein costume)
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