T Nation

Latest Zogby Poll

August 30, 2004

“On the eve of the Republican National Convention President Bush is favored by 25pts over John Kerry among undecided likely voters, 35% to 10%”

And this is BEFORE the convention!

A new Zogby poll says that 49% of New York City residents and 41% of New York citizens overall say that some of our leaders “knew in advance that attacks were planned on or around September 11, 2001, and that they consciously failed to act.”

http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=855

49% of people believe Michael Moore over our government committees. Senate Intellegence, 9/11 commission, etc.

These polls are serious enough to worry Kerry – Al Hunt has never met anything Republican that he likes, and even he is reporting that the Kerry camp is in trouble:

Kerry Campaign Weighs Shake-Up
As Bush Gains Upper Hand in Race
August 31, 2004 2:40 p.m.

As the Bush campaign commands an exquisitely directed convention, the faltering Kerry campaign might be on the verge of a major shake-up.

Ever since the Boston convention, the Bush campaign has dominated the agenda, putting the Democratic nominee on the defensive. While polls still show a close race, everything is tilting in the GOP direction, a movement that almost surely will be enhanced by a successful New York convention.

Dispirited Democrats – prominent senators, top fundraisers, even a few Kerry confidants – have told the candidate, who is in Nantucket, that high-level changes are imperative. A few very well-connected Democrats report something will occur in the next few days. One person who might assume more control is Joe Lockhart, a former press secretary to Bill Clinton and a respected public-relations figure, but one who has almost no experience in the high-stakes world of presidential campaigns. Another possibility: veteran Democratic politico John Sasso, currently at the Democratic National Committee.

If there is a change – Sen. Kerry privately is said to be “bouncing off the walls” in frustration – it has to be imminent as the eight-week campaign is in full swing by Labor Day. “We have 48 hours,” acknowledges an insider.

(Tuesday afternoon, the Kerry campaign announced some staff additions. Mr. Lockhart was named a senior adviser, and Joel Johnson, a former Clinton administration staffer, was appointed director of rapid response. But insiders say there might be more moves in the next few days.)

The Kerry campaign, like most, ultimately reflects the candidate. The cautious indecisiveness and occasional vacillations have become Kerry trademarks.

Leading Democrats describe a command structure often frozen – or at least tempered – by too many chefs, a too-heavy reliance on polls or focus groups and an aversion to risks. As a result, the message often is muddled and the reaction to hard-hitting attacks from Republicans often is slow and unconvincing.

This has been most pronounced on national security. The response to the supposedly independent Swift Boat Veterans attacking Sen. Kerry’s war record has been particularly ineffective. With that and an onslaught of negative commercials from the Bush campaign, public attitudes about John Kerry as a commander in chief or leader in a war against terrorism have eroded in recent weeks.

By contrast, the Republican effort is proceeding almost perfectly according to plan. The John McCain and Rudy Giuliani defense of President Bush as a national-security leader – in comparison to Sen. Kerry – was an effective launch, and Tuesday night a mainstream domestic appeal will be offered by First Lady Laura Bush and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Top Republican operatives have spelled out the political scenario to key supporters: Mr. Bush will come out of New York with a high single-digit lead in the polls, maintain about a five-point lead into the presidential debates, hold his own in those venues, and win a reasonably convincing re-election. Implicit in this strategy is control of the dialogue and agenda during the fall campaign, keeping Sen. Kerry on the defensive and making him as much if not more than President Bush the issue in voters’ minds.

GOP delegates, many of whom were nervous a short few weeks ago, find this a very credible scenario; they have moved to the cautiously optimistic level now and seem headed higher.

This wouldn’t be the first time the Massachusetts senator has shuffled his top staff. Late last fall, Mr. Kerry fired campaign manager Jim Jordan and brought in Mary Beth Cahill, chief of staff for ally Sen. Ted Kennedy, to revive his floundering campaign.

The Democrats’ picture also is strikingly similar to the situation the party faced the last time it sought to unseat a President Bush. In June 1992, Bill Clinton’s campaign was cratering; he was running third in the polls, behind President Bush and Independent candidate Ross Perot, the message was muddled, high-level conference calls involved dozens of campaign chiefs as there were no clear lines of authority. Hillary Clinton stepped in, tapped James Carville to be in charge of everyone, and Mr. Clinton went on to win in November.

Democrats, desperate and furious at the Kerry campaign, hope that is a model. There are, however, several differences. That was June and this is almost September. And Mr. Carville was a highly skilled, experienced political operative.
[rest of article on other topics and intentionally omitted]

[quote]Lumpy wrote:
A new Zogby poll says that 49% of New York City residents and 41% of New York citizens overall say that some of our leaders “knew in advance that attacks were planned on or around September 11, 2001, and that they consciously failed to act.”

http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=855
[/quote]

Lumpy:

As if New York even matters in this election. It is a forgone conclusion that Kerry will win New York. The last republican to win New York was Ronald Reagen.

Let the liberal conspiracy theorists have a ball!

This Bush bump in the polls is just fallout from the Swift Boat Liars. It shows that Karl Rove’s brand of dirty politics works.

Gee, why didn’t the “Elite Liberal Media” spend this much time investigating Bush’s AWOL record? The media gave weeks of coverage and millions of dollars of free air time replaying the Swift Boat ads. How come they didn’t spend a fraction of the time on Bush’s record?

[quote]Lumpy wrote:
This Bush bump in the polls is just fallout from the Swift Boat Liars. It shows that Karl Rove’s brand of dirty politics works.

Gee, why didn’t the “Elite Liberal Media” spend this much time investigating Bush’s AWOL record? The media gave weeks of coverage and millions of dollars of free air time replaying the Swift Boat ads. How come they didn’t spend a fraction of the time on Bush’s record?[/quote]

Sorry Lumpy,

But repeating the allegation that Rove is connected to the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth won’t make it true.

As to your question:

  1. They already covered Bush’s record once back in 2000, and then covered it again back in March – how many times do you want it covered? Admittedly, they didn’t pursue it very hard back in 2000, mostly because the Democrats weren’t looking to make Vietnam an issue in that election.

  2. The Anti-Bush folks weren’t very smart in their timing, bringing up their allegations against Bush way back in March - the media looked into it then, Bush released his stuff, and the story died because there was not enough information there to prove anything, and there weren’t people with whom Bush served making charges.

Lumpy:

As I have stated in the past: Politics is dirty! And there is no end in sight I am sorry to state.

Remember the announcement that came 48 hours before the last Presidential election. George Bush was arrested on DUI charges twenty years prior.

Now you and I both know that they were waiting for just the right time to let this information out. And it had a devastating effect. It kept perhaps millions of evangelical Christians away from the polls making the election as close as it was.

I hated that, and quite honestly I am not thrilled with the swift boat ads either. However, like the man said “that’s politics.” And both sides are guilty!

Yeah, the next two months is going to be fun. Having a political commercial air during every commercial break. Sounds like fun. I have to admit, there are two powerful ads right now.

The swift boat ads
The ad from moveon.org that has the guy saying he didn’t understand why they were in Iraq.

Although, if you watch Ahhnolds speech last night, his story about the guy with his leg blown wanting to go back was pretty powerful also.

Excellent observation:

http://www.truthlaidbear.com/archives/2004/08/31/we_are_sinking_fast_passengers_being_put_into_boats.php#001409

“We are sinking fast. Passengers being put into boats.”
August 31, 2004 06:44 PM

So Kerry is shuffling the deck chairs a bit, adding former Clinton spokesperson Joe Lockhart, among others, to his campaign Dream Team.

Joe Lockhart?

Let’s be serious: can anyone actually imagine Kerry, or his senior advisors, suddenly interrupting a staff meeting to declare: “We’re screwed! Get Joe Lockhart on the horn — he’s the only one who can save our asses!”

I don’t think so. Joe’s a nice guy and all, but a Rove-like Svengali he ain’t. Flacking for Oracle might be heavy on the dukats, but it isn’t exactly the political big leagues.

But forget Joe for a moment (who?). The even worse news for Kerry is that despite the exceptional job his campaign has been doing at executing political hari-kari, the Bush team hasn’t even started to attack him yet. All the damage thus far has been self-inflicted, or at the hands of the Swift Vets (also arguably self-inflicted, allowing that karma sometimes takes a while to come around — but it does come around). And don’t give me any nonsense about how Bush is behind the Swifties; these guys have hated Kerry’s guts for thirty years, and they show every intention of hating him for thirty more.

No, Kerry’s recent Swift-Vet-driven collapse is the political equivalent of a boxer being clocked by a random spectator on his way to the ring. (OK, a not-quite random spectator, more like one who’s been nursing a 30-year grudge). Somewhere, Karl Rove is sitting in quiet misery, gloomily considering the prospect that by the time he’s allowed to open up on Kerry with the big guns, the poor sod may have already self-destructed. Takes all the fun out of it.

So Kerry, fading in the polls, disliked by the electorate, faces the unappealing prospect of not only the traditional post-convention bounce for Bush, but that the true campaign hasn’t even started yet. Who knows what surprises Rove & Co. have in store for the hapless Senator? All we can know for sure is that they’ve got some, and they’re unlikely to be of the pleasant sort.

I think it’s going to be a rough September, Senator…

More on Kerry’s shake-up:

THREE OMINOUS SIGNS FOR KERRY [09/01 12:24 PM]

Three items to note regarding the rumors of a Kerry shakeup.

One, in the New York Daily News:

[Begin excerpt]Sen. John Kerry is angry at the way his campaign has botched the attacks from the Swift boat veterans and has ordered a staff shakeup that will put former Clinton aides in top positions.

"The candidate is furious," a longtime senior Kerry adviser told the Daily News. "He knows the campaign was wrong. He wanted to go after the Swift boat attacks, but his top aides said no." [End excerpt]

If that is the case, Kerry looks astoundingly weak, as he his subordinating his judgment to the judgment of his staff. The Daily News also states, “Democratic insiders have been saying for weeks that communications director Stephanie Cutter and media consultant and strategist Bob Shrum are two top aides who need to be replaced.”

Two, from CNN:

[Begin excerpt] Democratic leaders, increasingly concerned that John Kerry's presidential campaign is adrift, are urging the presidential nominee to make changes in his staff before Labor Day, according to some party sources...

Much of the Democrats' criticism ? which is coming from donors, top strategists and elected officials ? was directed at Mary Beth Cahill, who was hired to run Kerry's campaign after the senator fired campaign manager Jim Jordan in late 2003. Democrats are also urging the candidate to overhaul his media strategy, led by communications director Stephanie Cutter.

There's no indication that Kerry will fire Cahill or Cutter, or change their titles...

Several campaign officials and advisers say they recognize the need to have an "adult" traveling with the candidate ? as one put it, "someone who can tell him to shut up, or change something if and when that is necessary" and quickly deal with other strategic issues from the road. [End excerpt]

Again - how bad is it when people on Kerry’s own staff say he needs someone to tell him to shut up? Oddly, from the earlier source, Kerry makes it sound like his own staff is telling him to shut up all the time, and not letting him speak his mind. Three, in the Note, attributed to the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz:

[Begin excerpt] "James Carville, a commentator and former Clinton strategist, said he told senior Kerry aides that they badly needed 'someone who can drive a communications message.' Describing what he called the campaign's sluggish responses and muddled message, Carville said, 'They're a perpetual committee listening to a perpetual focus group, and it's got to change.'" [End excerpt]

“A perpetual committee listening to a perpetual focus group”? Jumpin’ Jehosaphat, could a Bush attack ad be any tougher on Kerry? Run Carville’s quote and then ask the viewer, “Can America afford having a leadership team described this way by Kerry’s own political allies while we’re fighting the war on terror?”

Still no word from my guy on the Kerry campaign about this shakeup talk. This may not mean much; I’m sure this is the kind of topic he (or she) would not want to talk about, on or off the record.

Finally saw the Swift Boat ads in NYC the last few days.

What makes them especially effective is that the ones that run in NYC are simply a tape of John Kerry testifying in Front of Congress and the audio is his own testimony. They highlight the words he is reading on the screen.

This is followed by real veterans, some of whom were POW’s, stating that they were tortured in an attempt to get them to repeat what John Kerry said in front of congress.

Effective communication allows the viewed to draw his own conclusions. No lying is necessary. The viewer is allowed to make his own conclusions. Some will say so what? Others will find it offensive to thier sense of right and wrong.

http://instapundit.com/archives/017588.php

I GOT YER BOUNCE RIGHT HERE: The folks at Time send this, though there’s no hyperlink, dangit:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 3, 2004

TIME Poll: Campaign 2004

BUSH OPENS DOUBLE DIGIT LEAD,
ACCORDING TO NEW TIME POLL
---
AMONG LIKELY VOTERS, 52% WOULD VOTE FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, 41% WOULD VOTE FOR JOHN KERRY,
AND 3% WOULD VOTE FOR NADER

New York ? For the first time since the Presidential race became a two person contest last spring, there is a clear leader, the latest TIME poll shows. If the 2004 election for President were held today, 52% of likely voters surveyed would vote for President George W. Bush, 41% would vote for Democratic nominee John Kerry, and 3% would vote for Ralph Nader, according to a new TIME poll conducted from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2. Poll results are available on TIME.com and will appear in the upcoming issue of TIME magazine, on newsstands Monday, Sept. 6.

Most important issues: When asked what they consider are the most important issues, 25% of registered voters cited the economy as the top issue, followed by 24% who cited the war on terrorism as the top issue. The situation in Iraq was rated the top issue by 17% of registered voters, moral values issues such as gay marriage and abortion were the top issue for 16% of respondents, and health care was the most important issue for 11% of respondents.

Bush vs. Kerry:
The economy: 47% trust President Bush more to handle the economy, while 45% trust Kerry.
Health care: 48% trust Senator Kerry to handle health care issues, while 42% trust Bush.
Iraq: 53% trust Bush to handle the situation in Iraq, while 41% trust Kerry. Terrorism: 57% trust Bush to handle the war on terrorism, while 36% trust Kerry.
Understanding the needs of people: 47% said they trust Kerry to understand the needs of people like themselves, while 44% trusted Bush to understand their needs.
Providing strong leadership: 56% said they trust Bush to provide strong leadership in difficult times, while 37% said they trust Kerry to provide leadership in difficult times.
Tax policy: 49% trust Bush to handle tax policy, while 40% trust Kerry. Commanding the Armed Forces: 54% said they trust Bush to be commander-in-chief of the armed forces, while 39% said they trust Kerry.

Bush on the Issues:
Iraq: Half (50%) of those surveyed approve of the way President Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, while 46% disapprove. In last week?s TIME poll, 48% approved of the way Bush was handling the situation in Iraq and 48% disapproved.
Terrorism: Almost two thirds (59%) said they approve of how President Bush is handling the war on terrorism, while 38% disapprove. Last week?s TIME poll found 55% approved of Bush?s handling of the war on terrorism, while 40% disapproved.
The Economy: Survey respondents were split on the President?s handling of the economy. Almost half (48%) said the approved of Bush?s handling of the economy, while 48% said the disapproved.

Other results include:
Was U.S. Right Going to War with Iraq? Over half of those surveyed (52%) think the U.S. was right in going to war with Iraq, while 41% think the U.S. was wrong to go to war.

Have the United States? actions in Iraq made the world safer? Almost half(45%) think the United States? actions in Iraq have made the world safer, while 45% think the world is more dangerous. In a similar TIME poll taken Aug. 3 ?5, over half (52%) said the world was more dangerous, and 38% said the world was safer.

Note the pro-Bush movement on many issues. How much of this is due to the convention? Beats me. Given the dates involved, I’d say not all of it.

BB:

Another very informative post by you! I thank you.

It seems that President Bush has gotten an 11pt bounce. What happend to the medias claim that in a close election like this there was no wonder that Kerry did not get a bounce?

In the two remaining months prior to the election I expect thAT Kerry will retake some of those voters, perhaps 6pts or so. As I have stated many times in the past Bush will not be defeated by Kerry as he is just not a strong enough candIdate.

Bush by 4% to 5%!

[quote]ZEB wrote:
BB:

Another very informative post by you! I thank you.

It seems that President Bush has gotten an 11pt bounce. What happend to the medias claim that in a close election like this there was no wonder that Kerry did not get a bounce?

In the two remaining months prior to the election I expect thAT Kerry will retake some of those voters, perhaps 6pts or so. As I have stated many times in the past Bush will not be defeated by Kerry as he is just not a strong enough candIdate.

Bush by 4% to 5%![/quote]

Zeb:

Actually, depending on how you reference it, the “bounce” is even bigger – going back to before the RNC, I think Bush was behind in this poll by a percent or two, – can’t find the data now – but the net bounce would then be more like 13%.

[ADDENDUM]

Err, I was wrong – the Time poll from August 24-26, had Bush at 46% and Kerry at 44% – however, the margin of error on this poll is +/- 4%, so that previous number was clearly within the margin of error, while the new number is clearly outside the margin of error.

I win the office pool!!!

BB:

A possible 13% bounce for Bush! Much better than I predicted. I’m thrilled!

Apparently it wasn’t just a Time thing:

http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000087&sid=aWMeOSOk0kic&refer=top_world_news

Bush Leads Kerry by 11 Points in Newsweek Poll After Convention

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) – President George W. Bush leads his Democrat opponent John Kerry by 11 percentage points according to a poll immediately after the Republican National Convention in New York, Newsweek magazine reported.

Bush is supported by 54 percent of the 1,008 registered voters surveyed Thursday and Friday, compared with 43 percent support for Kerry, a four-term Massachusetts senator. Independent candidate Ralph Nader polled 3 percent. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points, Newsweek said.

Bush, 58, accepted his party’s nomination Thursday after convention speakers said he’s strong on national security and in fighting terrorists. Kerry, 60, said in a speech after the convention ended that ``it’s time to move America in a new direction’’ and that Bush’s policies have failed.

The president’s job-approval rating rose to 52 percent, the first time it’s been above 50 percent since January, Newsweek said. A 53 percent majority wants to see him re-elected, the highest since May of last year, the magazine reported.


Also, here’s a link to a table showing an appreciable bounce from Bush’s speech (and maybe from Kerry’s too…), in that it shows the difference between numbers on 9/2 and 9/3:

http://www.pollingreport.com/wh04gen.htm

Gallup gives Bush a 7% lead among likely voters, which would be a 5% bounce – this is more conservative than the others, but still substantial.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/polls/usatodaypolls.htm

As I said previously, this far out polls aren’t really useful for specific numbers, but more as vectors to show who’s gaining and who’s losing ground. All the polls would indicate no DNC bounce for Kerry, a substantial RNC bounce for Bush, and Bush with some lead.

Now time for the homestretch…

Good stuff…

September 6, 2004
NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST
The Comeback Prez
By WILLIAM SAFIRE

Washington ? All that sustained thumb-sucking you heard about this being a polarized electorate, with only a tiny sliver of undecideds, has just ended with a loud pop. Polls that showed John Kerry ahead by a few points going into his convention a month ago now show President Bush up 11 points. That means the old “swing vote” still swings and the battle for voters is in the political center.

The Labor Day Bush trend (which could, by the nature of swing voting, be reversible) has Democratic politicians between dismay and panic. As usual, they are crying foul at a veterans group’s answer to Kerry’s blunder of running on his Vietnam war and anti-war record. As insiders shake up the staff, outsiders pre-emptively lay the basis for post-election excuses, positioning themselves for embittered told-you-so’s.

Longtime Democratic pollsters have been calling journalists to note that the sophisticated “internals” of the current polling were even more gloomy for the Kerry campaign, showing a two-to-one advantage for the president on the paramount issue of the war. Retiring Senator Bob Graham, whose failure to dissociate himself from Pat Buchanan’s anti-Israel screed on “Meet the Press” yesterday will not help Democrats in Florida, complains that Kerry’s campaign is “still a little out of focus.”

Other Democratic pols had harsher advice: no more Mr. Nice Guy. Harold Ickes, the rejected Clintonite who has been directing millions of dollars into supposedly independent TV spots savaging the president, cries that Kerry should “throw caution to the wind.” Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania advised that Kerry “has got to start smacking back.”

The gibes from his own side caused Kerry to overreact. Instead of moving away from the Vietnam issue, which has been a real toothache for his campaign, he bit down on it. Uncharacteristically, he took the low road, overtly contrasting his war duty with Dick Cheney’s draft deferments.

That flailing-out was done more in anger than in calculation. Millions of Americans of draft age in the 1960’s who are voters today were deferred from service by virtue of student status or fatherhood. They do not appreciate having their deferment attributed to lack of patriotism. Now Kerry has unnecessarily upset a lot of non-veteran swing voters.

What can swing the pendulum back? What are the presently ascendant Republicans worried about?

Not another new Kerry position on the war in Iraq; he has learned that issue is a loser and no “I shall go to Baghdad” stunt would sway the undecideds. Despite the wishes of both Democrats and Republicans, however, Iraqi insurgents presumably think it is in their interest to increase American casualties in October - thereby to defeat Bush’s unequivocal “whatever it takes” policy. Nobody can be certain how a terrorist Tet offensive would affect U.S. politics.

We can be certain that bad economic news, if it comes, will hurt Bush. When the recovery stuttered this summer and Kerry’s political fortunes rose, we had a brief “Kerry market” - stocks declined sharply at the prospect of dividend and capital-gains tax increases, recovering along with Bush’s recent comeback. If the figures near election time are not good, a worried market will drop as Kerry’s stock rises, accentuating investor gloom. Public pessimism cheers the challenger.

And then there are the debates, with all their gaffe potential. In that big moment of the swing voter lies the main hope of the Kerry supporters after their botched Boston convention, its mistaken theme highlighted by the successful G.O.P. affair.

Yet Kerryites cannot hold out hope publicly that their man will out-debate Bush and thereby reverse fortunes lest they raise expectations of a Kerry triumph; in that case, September’s much-needed Democratic morale booster would enable Bush to do “better than expected” in October’s debates, vitiating any victory. (It’s not easy being behind.)

Finally, bouncing Bushies are properly concerned with peaking too soon. Because the media revel in a horse race right down to the wire, any reduction of the present Bush surge will be hailed with a jubilant “Here comes Kerry!”

But the Republicans coming out of their New York success - with a personally popular candidate, a much deeper surrogate bench, the momentum of an upbeat message and a clearly centrist appeal - have good reasons to have faith in the November decision of today’s legion of swing voters.