Swaying to the beat

Fair has a report out by Peter Hart on the media's takedown of Howard Dean, but I haven't found it online. While I was searching though I ran across this on Fair, Pundits to Kerry: Move Right, where Howard Fineman gave Kerry this advice:
Over at Newsweek (4/12/04), political reporter Howard Fineman had the same advice. In a column based on what anonymous "wise guys" are saying, Fineman says Kerry needs to craft "a coherent, centrist vision." As Fineman puts it, "There's room in the middle, wise guys insist." To Fineman and his unnamed experts, "Kerry can't occupy the center if he's defined as a mere liberal. He has the most liberal voting record in the Senate. What to do?" Fineman has the cure: Kerry should "run ads in battleground states reminding voters that he was a prosecutor and that he voted for welfare reform in 1996, a brave (for Massachusetts) stand that drew picketers to his home."
Which reminded me of hearing Kerry's speech a few days earlier, on the 15th, in which he'd mentioned something I'd not heard previously about himself:
...An America that's content to run almost a farm system for prisons in our country. I used to be -- I used to be a prosecutor. And I used to go spend time and talk to kids, 15, 16 and 17 years old who are in trouble...
Three days, wow, Kerry's speechwriters have their ear to the ground (but I guess they wanted to try it out in Howard U., before hitting the battleground states with the message) for Fineman.

The best part of Kerry's Howard University speech speaks for itself:

Remember that song, "The Great Pretender?" I don't know how many of you have ever heard it? Nobody ever heard it. It's before your time. Somebody's going to play it again one day. Go to the "oldies- but-goodies" station and you'll hear it.

Early Conclusion: too early to tell

Polling since the beginning of 2004, from The Hotline.
(++) indicates a lead outside the poll's margin of error; (+) means a lead within the margin. States that are in italics are states where polls indicate a flip from a red state to a blue state (or vice versa) based on 2000 results; in the future, new polls added since the last scoreboard will be in bold. Note: Polls marked with an * include Ralph Nader in the horserace.
ELECTORAL COLLEGE TOTALS: (270 needed to win)
          LEADS OUTSIDE MoE                 ALL LEADS
           STATES    EVs                  STATES    EVs
Kerry         7     123        Kerry       13       204
Bush          8      86        Bush        16       195

STATE    BUSH  KERRY  POLL                        DATE     MoE
      (+ indicates lead inside the MoE, ++ a lead outside)
AL (9)  ++59%   27%   USA Polling Group          3/15-18  +/-5%
CA (55)   41  ++53    Field Poll                 2/18-22  +/-3%
          40  ++53    Los Angeles Times          2/18-22  +/-3
CO (9)   +49    40    Pub. Opinion Strategies(R) 3/31-4/1 +/-4.9
CT (7)    39  ++52    *UConn                     3/25-28  +/-4
FL (27)  +51    43    Mason-Dixon                3/30-4/1 +/-4
IA (7)    42   +49    Register/Selzer & Co.      2/7-11   +/-3.8
IL (21)   39   +47    *Mason-Dixon               3/1-3    +/-4
IN (11) ++52    37    Bellwether Research (R)    2/22-24  +/-4
KY (8)  ++55    38    Louisville Courier-Journal 1/30-2/4 +/-4
LA (9)  ++52    38    *SMOR                      3/17-18  +/-3.7
MA (12)   28  ++59    *RKM Research and Comm.    2/27-28  +/-4.9
MD (10)   43   +48    *Gonzales Research         3/19-24  +/-3.5
ME (4)    38  ++51    *Strategic Marketing Svcs. 2/28-3/3 +/-5
MI (17)   45   +47    EPIC/MRA                   3/28-4/1 +/-4
MN (10)   38  ++50    *Market Solutions Group    3/28-31  +/-4.1
MO (11)   46   +49    Decision Research (D)      2/14-19  +/-3.5
NH (4)   +48    45    American Research Group    3/30-4/1 +/-4
NJ (15)   47   +48    Fairleigh Dickinson Univ.  4/3-10   +/-3.5
NM (5)    47    47    American Research Group    3/30-4/1 +/-4
NY (31)   36  ++53    Quinnipiac                 4/5-12   +/-2.7
NV (5)  ++49    38    Mason-Dixon                3/15-17  +/-4
OH (20)  +46    45    Columbus Dispatch          3/23-31  +/-2
OK (7)  ++47    35    *Insider Advantage         3/31-4/1 +/-5
OR (7)   +43    41    Univ. of OR                3/19-4/7 +/-4.9
PA (21)  +46   +40    *Franklin & Marshall       3/25-29  +/-4.1
RI (4)    31  ++53    Brown Univ.                2/7-9    +/-4.6
SD (3)  ++50    39    Mason-Dixon                2/5-7    +/-3.5
TN (11)  +48    44    Middle TN State Univ.      2/16-28  +/-3.7
TX (34) ++54    36    Scripps Howard TX Poll     2/12-3/3 +/-3.7
WV (5)    46    46    *American Research Group   3/23-24  +/-4
WI (10)  +49    45    Univ. of WI Survey Center  3/23-31  +/-4

States not listed: AK (3), AR (6), AZ (10), DC (3), DE (3), GA (15), 
HI (4), ID (4), KS (6), MS (6), MT (3), NE (5), NC (15), ND (3), 
OR (7), SC (8), UT (5), VA (13), VT (3), WA (11), WY (3). 

York's Review

Is York saying that Bush didn't use cocaine, or that it's irrelevant? Even Bush doesn't claim the former; if it's the latter, then why bring it up. I like Zack's response: “typical Republican bullshit.” Slick how such partisan tripe makes its way into a rag like The Hill.

Gas prices & Bush's approval

At this point, it's just conjecture on my part, but I can't be the only one noticing that whenever gas prices go up to their highs, the President's approval ratings decline. I've not looked extensively into the matter, but certainly Carter's malaise is no better reflected on then even/odd gas lines that the nation experienced at the time. So, here's a look at Bush's term, gas prices, and his approval ratings.

St. Pete. had gas available at a low of $1.00 on 12/20/01, and it climbed from there. Bush's approval ratings hit 87% mark around that December in Gallup polling. Gas prices remained dirt cheap until around the beginning of March, 2002, and then jumped up to $1.31 in St. Pete. Meanwhile, Bush's own approval numbers began to decline, maintaining 80% until May, and then steadlily dropping through the summer of 2002.

Gas prices in 2002 into 2003? They steadily rised in MA, until, wala, March of 2003. In March, 2003 gas prices began to drop,and continued to drop, until early summer, at $1.50 in the NE. Bush's numbers went from the 50's to the 70's during this same time.

Then in July/August of 2003, gas prices escalated sharply. Bush's approval dropped sharply, hitting 50% in September of 2003. Gas prices then started to drop in late 2003, and hit a bottom around the first week of January, 2004. Likewise Bush's numbers climbed, once again back over 60% in December of 2003 and into January of 2004.

Since then, gas prices have been on an upward ramp. By March 2004, Bush had dipped under 50% for the first time. Panic time in the White House, which explains the release of the Buggy ad by the Bush team, claiming that Kerry wants even higher gas prices. A week ago Pew came out with a poll showing Bush with a 43% approval rating, and a 47% disapproval rating. Meanwhile, gas prices hit an all-time high, and are expected to go even higher.

Sure, other things are happening at the same time, but there's an unmistakable correlation going on. It's as simple as realizing that there's a significant population that will grant their support given a cheap pump price, and take it away with a more expensive price at the pump; and also, that they are easily manipulated. Meanwhile, hummers keep selling, despite.

Colorado is in play (so is half of Maine)

There's been some agreement that there were 17 states in play for 2004, make it 18. Colorado is being added by Charlie Cook:
There has been a remarkable level of agreement to date between strategists of both parties about which states are "in play." The battleground where this presidential election will be waged includes PA, OH, MI, WI and MN in the Great Lakes region, OR and WA in the Pacific Northwest, AZ, NM and NV in the Southwest, IA, MO and AR in the center, FL in the Southeast, then WV, NH and ME. Recent surveys taken by pollsters of both parties have President Bush leading Sen. John Kerry by less than a half dozen points in Colorado, a state that has been reliably Republican in many years. Theories vary as to why this is, including an increasing proportion of Democratic-voting Hispanics and an influx of out-of-state voters with very different voting patterns than natives. Given the new polls, don't be surprised to see the presidential ads starting hitting Colorado as well. While often times strategists and analysts are aware of trends in a state, particularly the combination of demographic changes and in-migration, they under-estimate the speed of the transition. A perfect example of that is Florida in 2000, which became a swing state much faster than anyone anticipated.
Virginia might be another one that gets added (and it's really only half of Maine).


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