Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, chief pollster for Kerry, is calling for Bush to win by 3% in the popular vote:
November 02, 2004
Democratic Pollster Predicts Bush Victory
In one of the more unusual analyses of this presidential campaign, The Hill published a prediction of victory by George Bush in today’s race. That may not sound unusual, but when the pundit making the prediction turns out to be John Kerry’s chief pollster Mark Mellman, it raises a few eyebrows:
[Begin Mellman excerpt] "First, we simply do not defeat an incumbent president in wartime. After wars surely, but never in their midst. Republicans have been spinning this fact for months, and they are correct.
Democrats have spoken often and powerfully about the nation?s economic problems. But by historical standards, they are not that bad. The ?misery index? is 7.8 today but was 20.5 when Jimmy Carter was defeated. Economic models of elections show Bush winning 52-58 percent of the vote." [End Mellman excerpt]
Nor does Mellman stop there. Much has been made about Bush’s approval ratings and the “right direction/wrong direction” polling during this cycle, and how both have consistently run negatively towards Bush’s re-election chances. Mellman doesn’t buy that either, and explains that those numbers have to be significantly further south for them to portend an early end to Bush’s career:
[Begin Mellman excerpt] "Bush?s approval ratings are also indicative of the difficulties Kerry faces. It is certainly true that the average incumbent who has been reelected has had a much higher job approval rating ? 62 percent. Bush?s approval rating is now about 49 percent. Yet the last time an incumbent was beaten ? Bush?s father ? just 33 percent approved of his performance. When Carter was defeated, he had an approval rating of only 37 percent. On average, incumbents who have been defeated have only had a 38 percent job rating. Bush is 10 points higher than that.
We often point to the fact that a majority of Americans say the country is seriously off on the wrong track. Fifty-two percent hold that view. But when Bush Sr. was defeated, 72 percent thought the country was seriously off on the wrong track.
Only 39 percent give the economy a positive rating, a problem for the incumbent. Yet in 1992, only about 10 percent were positive about the economy. [End Mellman excerpt]
Remember, too, that Bush 41 only lost his re-election bid due to a strong independent campaign by H. Ross Perot which sucked out the right-center voters from underneath the Republican incumbent. Most models showed that even with the internal issue polls where they were, Bush 41 had a good shot at winning a second term.
Mellman then delivers a shocking prediction, for a Democratic pollster – Bush wins by three points in the popular vote, a gap that not only guarantess an Electoral College win but also wide enough to discourage post-election lawsuits:
[Begin Mellman excerpt]"Taking all that and more into account, an expert forecasting model suggests that Bush will get 51.6 percent of the two-party vote.
So while Bush faces formidable obstacles, not the least of which is Kerry himself, the senator also faces a strong candidate. Bush is weaker than some other incumbents but much stronger than those who have been defeated." [End Mellman excerpt]
This poll result sounds much more credible than anything else I’ve heard, given the source and the testimony against interests.
[EDIT: The last sentence of the Mellman article makes it ambiguous whether he was endorsing the 3% Bush win when he cited the “expert forecasting model” - although, given he’s a pollster, he would likely be smiling more for being correct than for a Kerry win…]