Just as a reminder, Kerry has several things going for him that should worry any incumbent essentially tied with a challenger. First, the likelihood of undecideds breaking for Kerry is high. Second, there are quite possibly many voters who, if asked, will never indicate a preference for anyone but the President during wartime, out of a fear of seeming disloyal. But if presented with a choice in the voting booth, they may vote for someone new. Third, there may be a fair number of Republican respondents who can never bring themselves to express support for Kerry who will nonetheless stay home on election day.
The moral of the story is this: there are intangibles that the polls cannot track. If I were Bush, I wouldn't be comfortable going into the election with less than a 5-7 point lead. As it is, it would appear that he's still polling in the mid-to-high 40's, despite spending hundreds of millions on advertising and a convention designed to put Kerry away. That can't be good news for the Bush camp.
While I agree with this somewhat, short-term variation should show up as significant variation in once-a-year samples, too, unless the yearly sampling is done over an extended period of time. As I understand it, that's not the case.
Party ID and who turns out to vote may be very different animals.
I think the lead is smaller than that. Rasmussen may have been strongly influenced by an outsized pro-Bush sample a couple of days ago. We should know in a couple of more days if the three-day average drops back to 1-2 points.
I think what we're seeing is sample variance -- simple random variation in the composition of a relatively small sample of a much larger population -- as well as uncontrollable variation caused by some people being home to answer the phone while others aren't.
In other words, it's both pure chance and outside variables such as when people work, who has telephones, who answers them at certain times, etc. The school year just started, for example, which could cause shifts in when people are home to answer the phone. Football season just started, too. etc.
If it's true that all of the reason Bush is up at all right now is that the Dem base is a tad soft, and Kerry is doing extremely well among independents, then Kerry is in excellent shape. It's always easy to shore up your base; I would imagine that Kerry's recent hard-hitting attacks on Bush are going a long ways towards that sort of thing.
Rasamussen, if I recall correctly, is a Republican pollster. Now that doesn't necessarily mean he's biased, but it's something to keep in mind.
However, I also seem to recall that his state polling, in the past, has been quite a bit off from actual election results. For example, there's simply no way Kerry is going to lose New Jersey. It would be like losing California.
I think anything's possible. We're talking people for whom the words "can't" and "shouldn't" aren't in the dictionary. If hiring a company to jam the GOTV phone lines of a political rival is on the table, then doing something to skew polling results would not be out, either.
How would you do it? The most direct way would be to bribe people with the polling outfit. But if you could somehow taint the system for making phone calls, that might work, too.
After Swift Boat fiasco, will backlash against new smear campaign hurt Bush?
Less than three weeks after two Bush campaign officials were forced to resign due to fallout over discredited attacks on John Kerry's military record, Bush campaign allies are once again attempting a series of smear attacks.
Two new ads will be run by "MoveOnForAmerica.org", a 527 organization. The first ad attacks John Kerry for fighting in 1982 to overturn the wrongful conviction of an innocent man who had spent ten years in prison, by pointing out the man later committed crimes.
Perhaps worse for the Bush campaign, the ad refers to Wille Horton, a well-known figure from a George H. W. Bush smear campaign against Michael Dukakis in 1988. "Willie Horton" has since become, in the minds of many voters, synonymous with "dishonest smear attacks". This is surely an unfortunate issue for Bush campaign allies to invoke.
The second ad uses Hitler images in an attempt to tie Kerry and Al Sharpton to extremism.
The over-the-top ads seem to be so poorly done that they are being dismissed by diehard Bush supporters as liberal propaganda, intended to paint the Bush campaign in a bad light. Nonetheless, the proprietor of Move On For America is Steven Marks, a longtime GOP consultant, former Jeb Bush employee, George Bush supporter and Bush family friend.
Indeed, Move On For America's Virginia headquarters appears to be in the same office complex where the Bush/Cheney Campaign headquarters is located.
The Bush campaign, which an ill afford to be tied to further smears, appears to be taking a significant risk by allowing its allies to engage in such tactics. Bush's greatest strength, and perhaps the centerpiece of his campaign, remains the popular impression that he is a straight-talking, compassionate man.
The Swift Boat smear campaign attacking John Kerry's military history resulted in more than half of those polled believing Bush was behind the campaign. Further evidence of involvement by Bush friends and supporters in smears thus threatens to do direct damage to Bush's bid for re-election.