Tuesday, November 2 2004
Florida is called. Watching the updates on Ohio, Bush's lead has grown from around 131,000 votes to over 145,000. No telling which counties these ballots are coming in from, but it certainly looks as if the Dem GOTV in Cleveland and Toledo is coming up short. With 70% reporting in, time is running out for Kerry to turn it around. Anything could still happen, of course.
UPDATE: Of course, as soon as I say something, Kerry ticks up two points in Ohio! It's now 51-49 Bush with 74% in. Ohio is the whole ball game right now. We'll now soon enough. Stay tuned.....
-T. Bevan 11:01 pm

NC SENATE SEAT GOES REPUBLICAN: FOX has called it for Burr. And Vitter is hanging on at 51% in Louisiana with 75% reporting. - T. Bevan 9:59pm

THE FIRST BATTLEGROUND STATE FALLS: Pennsylvania goes to Kerry, and Specter defends his Senate seat. Florida is next to go, Bush is up 5 points with 89% reporting. That leaves Ohio. Bush is currently up 6 points with 46% reporting, but his lead is only 138,528 votes. Cuyahoga County, where the Democratic stronghold of Cleveland is, only has 33% reporting. Kerry currently has a 20-point lead in Cuyahoga, so Kerry can certainly make up a lot of ground there. - T. Bevan 9:57pm

SENATE UPDATE: So far, the GOP has picked up open seats in SC and GA, and held onto OK. Burr is up 6 on Bowles at the moment in NC and Bunning has pulled ahead of Mongiardo by two - at least for right now. Dems have picked up IL and Betty Castor is locked in a tie with Mel Martinez for the other open seat.

Daschle up four on Thune with 13 percent reporting. Last but not least, Coors is ahead of Salazar in CO, but only 1 percent has reported. - T. Bevan 8:57pm

BAD NUMBERS ? Why were the exit polls so badly off the mark? Why did it take the nets so long to make calls in places like VA, NC and SC? Read this from Kerry Spot:


Larry Sabato was just on one of the DC-area local stations, and just said something shocking - the reason it took forever to call Virginia, South Carolina, and North Carolina is that the exit polls had them for Kerry.

For Kerry!

Sabato also said that the exit polls also had at least two other states "wrong" — which is not to say they had the wrong winner, but that they had results that were immediately detected as out of whack.

If there was some sort of purposeful deception with the leaking of bogus exit polls, it would make Dan Rather and Memogate look like small potatoes. - T. Bevan 8:36pm

OK SENATE: Coburn beats Carson. - T. Bevan 7:39pm

FINALLY: Virginia and North Carolina go to Bush.

IN GOV: Daniels running ahead of Kernan by 11. It's done. - T. Bevan 7:35 pm

NO CALL IN SC?: Bush leads in South Carolina by 13 with 16% reporting but no call from the nets. Meanwhile, NJ called immediately.....
- T. Bevan 7:31pm

BUNNING IN KY SENATE BATTLE: This one looks like it will go down to the wire. - T. Bevan 7:03pm

THE SENATE: Bayh wins. We don't care about the Senate race, tell us who the new Governor is..... Oh yeah, Leahy won, so did Isakson. Bunning trails in early returns. - T. Bevan 6:22

VA: Get your updated Virginia numbers here. This very second it's Bush 54%, Kerry 46%. - T. Bevan 6:18pm

EXIT POLL INFO: This head-scratcher could be the story of the night:

"Exit polls suggested that slightly more voters trusted President George W. Bush to handle terrorism than Sen. John Kerry. But most voters said the country was headed in the wrong direction, and those voters overwhelmingly backed Kerry."

-T.Bevan 6:16pm

SC: Bush leading 55%-45% in South Carolina. The link is being updated constantly so don't blame me if the number has changed. - T. Bevan 6:10pm

FIRST BLOOD: CNN reports Bush wins Indiana, Kentucky and Georgia, Kerry wins in Vermont. - T. Bevan 6:05 pm

ELECTION COMMENTARY: Looks like we're in for a very long night - and possibly much, much longer. A couple of updates: Slate reports:

In the national exit poll, Kerry leads Bush 51-48. In Wisconsin he's up by three and in Ohio and Florida he leads by one.

Mark Halperin just said on ABC that exit polls showed Bush with a 51% job approval rating. -T. Bevan 6:01 pm

Monday, November 1 2004
Where do things stand one day before the election? Very, very close. The national horse race numbers have gotten extremely tight, including a couple of polls in particular that don't bode well for President Bush. Gallup and Fox News (as of this morning) have shown movement toward John Kerry in the final days and now have the race dead even.

But as we've been loading all the various internal numbers from these polls into our averages I've gotten the sense there is another story, one which would seem on the surface to be much more in President Bush's favor.

Start with the generic Congressional vote. Right now the RCP Average has Republicans with a 0.5% advantage. If you track the change in each poll individually, with the exception of Gallup the movement seems to be favoring the GOP:

Generic Vote
Net Chg
Dem +1
GOP +3
Dem +4
Dem +1
Dem +4
GOP +3
GOP +2
Dem +1
( 10/28)
GOP +3
GOP +5
GOP +4
Democracy Corps (D)
Dem +2
Dem +9

In 2002, there was a dramatic move toward the GOP in the final days before the midterm election which was a harbinger of a big night for Republicans. This year the move is much smaller, and it isn't clear at all whether any favorable momentum in the generic congressional vote will benefit President Bush. It could very well be that Republicans have a good night on Tuesday in a lot of places - except at the top of the ticket. Nevertheless, movement toward the GOP is obviously more beneficial for President Bush than seeing the polls move against his party in the final days.

Now look at the latest right track/wrong track numbers:

Right Track/Wrong Track
Net Chg
CNN/USAT/Gallup (RV)
( 10/17)
( 10/28)
Democracy Corps (D)

With only one exception (Newsweek), the polls show people are generally feeling better about the direction of the country. The current RCP Right Track/Wrong Track spread stands at -8.0%, which is the first time it's been under negative double digits in quite some time.

I think it's widely accepted that the RT/WT number this year isn't as tightly correlated to the national popular vote as we've seen in the past. Because of the war in Iraq, terrorism and cultural issues like gay marriage, there is a certain level of anxiety in the country and even supporters of President Bush may respond that they feel like we're headed in the wrong direction.

Still, this question is usually asked among respondents using the loosest possible screen (either all adults or registered voters) so it does gauge the general mood of the country and it's certainly better for President Bush that the RT/WT number is improving heading into tomorrow as opposed to going in the other direction.

Lastly, look at Bush's job approval. Fifty percent is generally recognized as the "magic number" on job approval for incumbents to win reelection. As most of you know, this is because the job approval number traditionally correlates most closely with the candidate's final popular vote total. It also just makes common sense: a majority of the country is probably not going to vote a person out of office if they think that person is doing a decent job as President.

Right now the RCP Average of the 8 most recent polls taken over the last 5 days shows President Bush right on the cusp: 49.8%.

Among all job approval numbers, Gallup is generally seen as the "gold standard." In their final poll they have Bush at 51% job approval among likely voters but only 48% among registered voters.

But again, it's important to look at the change in these polls relative to each other to get a feel for which direction Bush's job approval number is heading:

Bush Job Approval
Net Chg
CNN/USAT/Gallup (LV)
( 10/28)
( 10/17)
FOX News
Democracy Corps (D)

With the exception of Gallup (which as previously mentioned is a pretty big exception), Bush's job approval has held steady or increased across the other seven polls taken recently. Again, this may or may not be indicative of tomorrow's outcome, but as a general trend the President's job approval numbers seem to be working slightly in his favor.

I'll finish with the traditional caveats about these being national numbers (as opposed to key battleground state numbers) with small sample sizes, blah, blah, blah. Certainly this race will be won or lost in the trenches of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and the rest. But the to the extent we can use national polls as pieces of the overall picture and tools to find threads of commonality in the dynamics of this race, these three trends look favorable for President Bush despite the tightening in some of the horse race numbers. - T. Bevan 10:00 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Sunday, October 31, 2004
Here's a round up of the pundit predictions on this year's election, in alphabetical order:

Fred Barnes - Weekly Standard
Tony Blankley - Washington Times
Bush Win
Donna Brazile - Dem Strategist
Pat Buchanan - MSNBC
Bush Win
Margaret Carlson - Time
Tucker Carlson - CNN
Eleanor Clift - Newsweek
Kerry Win
Charlie Cook - Cook Political Report
Terry Eastland - Weekly Standard
Peter Hart - Hart Research Assoc.
Al Hunt - Wall Street Journal
Bill Kristol - Weekly Standard
Bill McInturff - Public Opinion Strat
John McLaughlin - McLaughlin Group
Kerry Win
Bob Novak - Chicago Sun-Times
Kate O'Beirne - National Review
Lawrence O'Donnell - MSNBC
Kerry Win
Mark Shields - CNN
Tony Snow - Fox News

No big surprises, except for Tucker Carlson who predicts a Kerry win. - T. Bevan 2:24 pm Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Thursday, October 28 2004
We've been so busy posting polls that it' been difficult to find time to write. But I've got a couple of bones to pick with two columns that ran in the Washington Post yesterday and today.

Let's start with Richard Cohen. Just a scant five weeks ago Cohen was proclaiming himself "Purple and Proud Of It" and chastising fellow liberals for their Bush hatred and hyperbole:

"I nevertheless cannot bring myself to hate Bush or, as someone here told me, to consider his possible reelection as a reason to leave the country. In fact, Bush haters go so far they wind up adding a dash of red to my blue, pushing me by revulsion into a color I otherwise would not have....

I bump into these anti-Bush alarmists all the time. Recently an extremely successful and erudite man I much admire told me he viewed the upcoming election as something akin to September 1939, the time when World War II started and, among other things, European Jewry was all but snuffed out. I add that bit about the Holocaust because the man I was talking to had been born a European Jew. I could hardly believe my ears."

What a difference a month makes. In today's column Cohen far surpasses the paranoid, hyperbolic Bush-haters he mocked in his previous column. He says the Vice President of the United States has "morphed into the enemy." He compares the war on terror to a "crusade" and George W. Bush to Pope Urban II.

Last, but certainly not least, Cohen argues that George W. Bush should be impeached, and that if Cohen had his way each article of impeachment would contain the name of a United States soldier killed in action. This sentence in particular reeks to high heaven:

"Well over 1,000 Americans and countless more Iraqis have died because the president insisted on going to war."

Let's review some facts: after September 11 the President insisted that Saddam Hussein fully disclose and disarm. The United Nations Security Council unanimously agreed. So did Richard Cohen, John Kerry, John Edwards, and a host of others. War came as a result of Saddam's unwillingness to comply to these demands, and the deaths of any and all U.S. servicemen and Iraqi civilians fall on his shoulders alone.

War is a difficult, heart wrenching thing. Cohen's column is yet more proof that liberals just don't get it. They mistake Bush's resolve for lack of compassion. They mistake his courage to do what is necessary for obstinate unilateralism. Worst of all, they now seek to use the deaths of U.S. soldiers as leverage to blame the President and drive him from office, yet still would have our enemies believe that they have the will and the strength to continue the fight against terrorism.

Bone number two is from Harold Meyerson's column yesterday:

Time was when Republicans were at least embarrassed by their efforts to keep African Americans from the polls....

For George W. Bush, Karl Rove and their legion of genteel thugs, however, universal suffrage is just one more musty liberal ideal that threatens conservative rule. Today's Republicans have elevated vote suppression from a dirty secret to a public norm.

Does it strike anyone else as ironic that Meyerson can pen these vicious untruths and then spend rest of his column whining about how George W. Bush is responsible for dividing America? Mr. Meyerson needs to spend a good long time staring in the mirror.

But let's talk about the substance of Meyerson's charges, because they are important. Meyerson asserts that having GOP election monitors in heavily African-American precincts in Ohio is a racist strategy aimed at intimidating and ultimately suppressing African-American turnout - despite the fact that these precincts (irrespective of racial composition) are where Democrats have signed up the most new voters and where the potential for vote fraud is greatest.

Most rational people understand that we have to strike a balance - albeit a delicate one - between making it as easy as possible for people to vote and also monitoring the process and enforcing election laws. The balance between ballot access and ballot integrity is always difficult, not only because of partisanship but also the varying election laws between (and even within) the different states.

But when people like Meyerson start hopping up and down screeching "racism" and "voter suppression" whenever ANY measure is proposed to protect the integrity of the system (whether that be monitors, showing ID or proof of residency, etc) it makes you wonder if they're concerned about anything other than winning at whatever cost.

ANDREW HAS LOST IT: I don't begrudge Andrew Sullivan for having a number of qualms with President Bush. His criticisms of the administration's handling of the war are certainly within reason, even if I personally disagree with many of them. What isn't within reason, however, is this assertion:

"Domestically, Kerry is clearly Bush's fiscal superior."

This is, to put it mildly, insane. As a fiscal conservative am I disappointed in the performance of the Congress and the President's unwillingness to take a tougher line on spending by using his veto power? Of course.

But that doesn't lead me to the conclusion that a person with John Kerry's past record, his future proposals, and his deep-seated ideological beliefs about the role of the federal government is going to work to hold a tougher line on spending than Bush. You can force yourself to believe white is black and black is white, but that don't make it so.

To his credit, Sullivan goes on to make the much more rational argument that a return to better fiscal discipline is more likely with a divided Congress:

"Kerry will also almost certainly face a Republican House, curtailing his worst liberal tendencies, especially in fiscal matters. Perhaps it will take a Democratic president to ratchet the Republican party back to its fiscally responsible legacy. I'll take what I can get."

Fine. But the idea that we would want or need a Republican Congress to rein in Kerry's "liberal tendencies" in fiscal matters is basically a repudiation of the previous statement that Kerry is "clearly Bush's fiscal superior."

Sullivan also raps Bush because he "failed to grapple with entitlement reform, as he once promised." Huh? Less than three months into his Presidency Bush established a blue-ribbon commission to study Social Security reform. Hearings began in June 2001 and ran through December (even despite that little thing that happened in September) producing a final report with recommendations.

Sullivan is free to bemoan the fact that these recommendations didn't get implemented in the face of a national security crisis and a recalcitrant Democratic minority forcing a sixty-vote majority in the United States Senate to do any business whatsoever.

But again, at least the President's gut instinct is to push for much needed reform, as opposed to Senator Kerry's insistence that the current Social Security system is just A-OK for the next forty years provided we just raise taxes on the rich.

In the end, however, critiques of fiscal discipline and entitlement reform are little more than noise. The vote next Tuesday is about Iraq, terrorism, and U.S. national security and whether John Kerry or George Bush is better equipped to lead us forward in what is unquestionably a very dangerous world.- T. Bevan 2:24 pm Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Wednesday, October 27 2004
THE HARRIS POLL: Lots of emails regarding the new Harris Interactive Poll released today showing John Kerry leading George Bush by one point among likely voters, 48-47.

Just to clarify, this is an ONLINE poll, not a standard telephone survey, which is why we do not have it included in our average. - T. Bevan 1:24 pm

DO WE KNOW WHAT WE'RE FIGHTING FOR?: Here are some very strange results from two questions at the very end of the most recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll:

24. In view of the developments since we first sent our troops to Iraq, do you think the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq, or not?
Yes No No Opinion
47 51 2
26. Do you feel that you have a clear idea of what the war in Iraq is all about--that is, what we are fighting for?
Yes No No Opinion
70 28 2

I have no idea what this means. Nearly half the country now thinks Iraq is a mistake, yet seven out of ten say they have a clear idea of what we're fighting for there.

I suppose you could attribute at least a few percentage points to some hard core lefties who think they're quite clear on what we're fighting for and it's not something they approve of - like oil or American imperialism.

Maybe another point or two believes we are fighting to establish democracy in Iraq - which we most certainly are doing - but separates that particular task from battling global terrorism and thus concludes that establishing a democracy in Iraq is simply not worth doing.

Beyond those two reed-thin observations I'm at a loss to explain this gap, except to say that perhaps people know deep in their gut the stakes and importance of what we're doing but at least a portion of the public has become convinced through the incessant drumbeat of negative news and imagery in the mainstream media that Iraq is a mistake anyway. - T. Bevan 5:24 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Tuesday, October 26 2004
1) IS HAWAII IN PLAY?: Michael Barone says "yes", and it's never a good thing to find yourself disagreeing with someone who knows as much about politics as Barone. As a result of the two recent polls we've moved Hawaii to "leaning Kerry" from the "solid Kerry" column, but we're going to need to see a big move toward the President in the national polls or more state polling confirming these two numbers before we would be willing to make Hawaii a "toss up."

2) IS ARKANSAS IN PLAY? The last three polls show the race in Arkansas surprisingly close, including a new poll from Opinion Research Associates which has the race tied. But two follow up stories on the internals from the OPA poll are worth noting.

First, sixty-three percent of voters in Arkansas list the issue of gay marriage as "somewhat" or "very important." In a previous OPA poll taken just two weeks ago 80% of those surveyed were in favor of Amendment 3 which would define marriage as only between one man and one woman. Second, "60 percent of voters think a candidate's stand on gun rights is important in deciding how to vote in the presidential race."

It's hard to see how John Kerry is going to pull off an upset in Arkansas with these issues being such a prominent part of the mix this election. Like Hawaii in reverse, we would need to see major movement towards Kerry in the national polls or a couple more state polls before we would believe Arkansas is really in play, Bubba or not.

3) WILL AFRICAN-AMERICANS TURN OUT FOR KERRY? This is obviously one of the keys to the election and deserves to be discussed in much more detail. We've all seen the recent poll showing Bush with nearly double the African-American support he got in 2000 and Kerry running about eleven points worse than Gore. Now comes this from today's St. Petersburg Times:

Anything but strong turnout and overwhelming African-American support for Kerry could doom his chances. In 2000, record black turnout in Florida helped turn Florida into a virtual tie that took Republicans by surprise. This year, the mobilization effort is far greater, with a major focus on getting people to vote early.

But for all the anecdotal evidence of heavy African-American turnout, there are hints that Kerry might not be doing as strongly as he needs to be. At a John Edwards rally in St. Petersburg on Saturday, white people held "African-Americans for Kerry-Edwards" placards.

A St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald poll released Sunday showed Bush more than doubling his support from black voters since 2000, with 19 percent support. That estimate is imprecise because the pollsters surveyed fewer than 100 likely black voters in Florida, and the Kerry-Edwards campaign says its internal polling never shows Bush in double digits. But it mirrors a national poll released last week showing 18 percent of African-Americans backing Bush.

Kerry's ability to turnout the black vote in big numbers is infinitely more important to his candidacy than it is for Bush to win an extra three percent support among African-American voters this year. If the trends we're seeing are real, then Kerry's inability to generate enthusiasm for him - as opposed to just stoking antipathy toward his opponent - could cost him precious votes in important battleground states. - T. Bevan 8:24 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Monday,October 25 2004
Earlier today TIPP sent us their polling results which had the three way number Bush 50, Kerry 42, Nader 2 and the head-to-head number was Bush 50, Kerry 42. Just now TIPP has informed us the two way information is wrong, and that the accurate head-to-head number for the tracking dates 10/21-10/24 is Bush 48, Kerry 41. J. McIntyre 2:12 pm

President Bush continues to maintain a structural edge in the Electoral College that has worked to his advantage this entire campaign. However, the states that are producing that advantage have shifted since the summer.

In our initial electoral analysis we suggested that the election would boil down to Florida and Ohio, with Kerry having to win one of those two states and President Bush simply needing to carry them both to gain reelection. At the time we suggested that one of the President 's advantages was the possibility of offsetting a loss in Ohio or Florida by poaching some of the Gore states (IA, WI, MN NM, and OR), giving the President an alternate option of collecting an EC majority that Senator Kerry really never had.

As of today this alternate option, if necessary, for President Bush is starting to look more and more like a very real possibility. Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and New Mexico are fully in play: eight days before the election Bush holds leads in the RCP State Averages in all four of these states. This is seriously complicating Kerry's strategy in getting to 270 Electoral Votes. Conventional wisdom for months, including RCP's, had been that whoever won two of the "big three" Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida would almost certainly become President.

While it may still be likely that whoever carries two out of those three will win the election, it is not the cut and dry proposition it was earlier. President Bush can offset a loss in Ohio (and New Hampshire) by carrying Wisconsin and either Iowa, New Mexico or Minnesota. He can offset a loss in Florida (and New Hampshire), by winning three of those four states. Winning Wisconsin, Iowa, Maine's 1 Electoral Vote and holding New Hampshire would also allow President Bush to gain reelection while losing Florida.

Turning the conventional wisdom completely on its head President Bush could even lose all three of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida and still win, as long as he was able to flip Michigan. Granted, it's difficult to imagine a scenario where Kerry would win Pennsylvania and Ohio yet lose Michigan, but with a poll in Michigan showing the President ahead by five and Mason-Dixon calling it a one point race, coupled with a gay marriage initiative and Ralph Nader on the ballot (unlike PA and OH), it's not totally impossible. In this scenario Bush victories in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin could offset the loss of Florida's 27 Electoral Votes and Michigan would offset a loss in Ohio, leaving Kerry with a measly three electoral vote pick up.

While the Michigan option is a little far-fetched the other two are not. The problem for Senator Kerry is he has no backup plan to not winning in either Florida or Ohio. The problem for President Bush is that Kerry is still very much alive in both those states. All of Bush's backup Electoral scenarios will be irrelevant if he loses FL and OH and Kerry hangs on to PA and MI.

As the race sits today, the President holds roughly a three point lead in the national race. At the state level, using the RCP state averages to allocate the Electoral College, President Bush would win 306 - 232. However, the final movement in the national polls will have an exaggerated effect on that electoral tally. If Bush starts to pull away this week and can close strong building back toward his 5-7 point lead of September, that Electoral number could easily expand to 352 - 186. A small tightening towards Kerry in the final days from where we are today would indicate a dead heat race, where many of those electoral scenarios mentioned above could very well come into play. A strong break towards Kerry and most of these states would flip his direction leading to something like a 311 - 227 Kerry win.

Keep an eye on the RCP National Average. Eight days out it shows Bush ahead by roughly three points. Where that number is a week from today will be the best tell on how this race will turnout. J. McIntyre 11:28 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Sunday,October 24 2004
Some of you may have experienced problems with the web site recently. Last week we began the process of adding additional servers and increasing bandwith to handle all of the traffic we've been getting.

The result is that we've been battling a few bugs: Apache test screens popping up, some servers updating while others continue to display old pages, etc. Needless to say, it's a been a pain and an inconvenience for us as well as for a (hopefully) small percentage of our visitors. We apologize. We've fixed the problems and will continue to work to make sure RCP runs smoothly through the election and beyond.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.....

THE CIVILIZED BARBARIANS: You may have seen this quote from a column in The Guardian yesterday:

On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?

Ah, yes, members of the "civilised world" are now calling for the assassination of the President of the United States. Members of the "civilised world" now take to describing a person whose political views they disagree with as "a lying, sniggering, drink-driving, selfish, reckless, ignorant, dangerous, backward, drooling, twitching, blinking, mouse-faced little cheat."

Give me a break. The European left is as rotten and rudderless as it is arrogant and paranoid.

I wish I could report that the political left in this country wasn't starting to look more and more like their trans-Atlantic brethren. I can't. Some of the behavior we're seeing from Democrats in America at the moment ranges from comical to bizarre to deeply disturbing:

These are just a few stories from the last week pulled off the top of my head. The list is by no means comprehensive, but it's plenty enough for Democrats to be ashamed of. And they should be.

The fact is Democrats are angry, desperate, and absolutely beside themselves at facing the prospect of another four years with George W. Bush as President. Frankly, I don' t blame them.

With so much invested emotionally, it will be a crushing psychological blow for liberals to see Bush reelected a week from this Tuesday. Furthermore, if Bush wins big it could be a defeat that threatens the very foundations of the liberal movement itself.

But even that is no excuse for some of the behavior we're seeing. It's no excuse for bending the rules, breaking the law, and generally treating this year's election with an "anything goes" mentality where the ends justify any means. The country deserves - and the Constitution demands - much more than that.

Post Script: In the interest of fairness I went looking to put together a similar list of shameful incidents involving Republicans. But aside from the currently disputed and unproven allegations of some Democratic registrations being ripped up and thrown in the trash out in Nevada, I couldn't find anything comparable. In fact, using the exact same search criteria that turned up pages of stories involving the vandalism of Bush offices, etc. around the country yielded surprisingly few results when applied to John Kerry. If you know of any incidents of Republicans targeting Kerry offices or supporters with vandalism or thuggish behavior, please send them through so I can post them. - T. Bevan 8:15 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Thursday, October 21 2004
So Pat Robertson popped up on Paula Zahn's show Tuesday night and said that President Bush told him in a meeting in early 2003 Bush believed we wouldn't suffer any casualties in Iraq. Robertson has said some bizarre things over the years, but this one takes the cake.

The mainstream media generally ignores everything Robertson says until he unloads some ridiculous remark like the one on Tuesday - in which case papers like The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times treat his comments as front page news.

Last night on Larry King, however, Bob Woodward said that in his extensive interviews with Bush conducted during the course of writing his books (Plan of Attack and Bush at War), the President indicated just the opposite:

KING: An interview yesterday on CNN, Pat Robertson, an avid Bush supporter by the way, says he urged the president to prepare the United States people for casualties before launching the war and he said Bush told him, they're not going to have any casualties. What do you make of that? The White House denied that today.

WOODWARD: Yes, I don't think the president would say that. Certainly didn't believe that. When I talked to him about it, in fact, he said, in making the decision to go to war in Iraq, or the war in Afghanistan, he knew there were going to be casualties and he knew he was going to have to comfort the loved ones afterwards, so that there was kind of a deep awareness of that. I don't think that makes sense.

In fact, the President said as much in the February, 10 2003 speech he gave at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. This also happens to be same time and place the where Reverend Robertson says Bush told him he wasn't worried about America suffering casualties in Iraq. Bush told the group:

"If war is forced upon us -- and I say "forced upon us," because use of the military is not my first choice. I hug the mothers and the widows of those who may have lost their life in the name of peace and freedom. I take my responsibilities incredibly seriously about the commitment of troops. But should we need to use troops, for the sake of future generations of Americans, American troops will act in the honorable traditions of our military and in the highest moral traditions of our country. "

Realizing that Bush's statement in Nashville doesn't totally disprove Robertson's claim, it does indicate that President Bush not only acknowledged previous casualties but recognized that his impending decision to use force in Iraq would inevitably cause more.

Furthermore, one would think that if President Bush was (to use Roberton's own words) so completely "self assured" of the fact invading Iraq wouldn't produce any casualties, it seems logical that President Bush would have shared this thought with a few more people than just Pat Robertson. So far, we don't have any evidence that he did.

So am I calling Pat Robertson a liar? No. But I do think he misinterpreted the President expressing optimism for the success of a difficult and dangerous mission in Iraq. It seems a whole lot more likely than accepting President Bush was so deluded he would assert the impossible.

And does the expression of optimism for success in Iraq automatically lead to the conclusion, as Andrew Sullivan puts it this morning, that Bush "had no inkling of the possibility of an insurgency" and that he was entertaining pie-in-the-sky fantasies regarding the outcome of the invasion?

I don't believe it does. But that's just me. Sullivan says he chooses to believe Robertson, which just goes to further prove that politics makes strange bedfellows. Who you choose to believe is up to you. - T. Bevan 10:15 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Tuesday, October 19 2004
With two weeks until Election Day, we're in the final stretch. There is enough evidence for partisans on both sides to point to why their respective candidate will win on November 2. Bottom line: Bush is ahead and continues to hold the superior hand, but Kerry cannot be counted out.

Contrary to much of the punditry you may have seen or heard this has always been George W. Bush's race to lose - and it remains that way today. It has always been my belief that 9/11 and the War on Terror changed the national political landscape to give the Republicans and President Bush a structural advantage, particularly in the first Presidential election post-9/11.

The early signs of trouble for Senator Kerry began to appear in the summer (ironically when many were beginning to write Bush off) when Kerry could not move out to a bigger lead than 2-3 points. Throughout this entire campaign Kerry has never been able to get ahead by more than three points in the RCP Average, and he has only had a lead over 2.5% three times: in mid-May at the height of the media frenzy over Abu Ghraib, right after the Edwards pick in early July, and right after his convention in early August. None of these leads lasted more than a few days. Senator Kerry should have been registering leads between 5-10 points after his convention and VP pick, not 2 1/2 points.

For nearly an entire year (starting back at the beginning of the Dem primary race) Bush's opponents and the left-wing 527's had been pounding the President furiously, on top of the daily media drumbeat of the "disaster" in Iraq. All of this negativity directed at the President succeeded in driving down Bush's Job Approval rating and the right/direction wrong direction numbers, but it didn't succeed in turning this President into Jimmy Carter. As I've said before, despite this ferocious onslaught, Bush's Job Approval bottoming out in the mid-40's was actually a positive for the President and a sign of his underlying strength with the electorate, not a weakness.

With Bush's Job Approval finding a floor in the mid-40's and Kerry unable to ever move ahead by more than 2-3 points, the Democratic ticket was extremely vulnerable to counterattack. So in August, when Republican 527-money turned their guns on Senator Kerry, specifically with the swift boat/post-Vietnam protest stories, Kerry began to absorb some serious body blows.

Republicans were extremely successful in driving up Kerry's unfavorables during the month of August, and this led right into the Republican convention where the spotlight was put squarely on 9/11 and the War on Terror. The end result was that as September rolled around President Bush opened up a 5-7 point lead in the RCP Poll Average, a margin he held for 28 consecutive days.

Faced with being completely knocked out of the race, Kerry was able to get back in the game with a win in the first debate on September 30. In four days days after that debate Kerry was able to pull within 1-2 points of Bush in the RCP Average. That 1-2 point Bush lead basically held steady through the final debate in Arizona last week. Since last Wednesday's debate, Bush has tacked on a few points and this morning leads by 3-4 points in both of the RCP Poll Averages.

So where does that leave us? The President's Job Approval appears to have stabilized around 50%, with the latest from Gallup, (the most important as far as job approval) indicating 51% approval. While the press makes a big deal about Bush being below 50%, it is probably the Kerry campaign that should be more concerned with that 50% number. Bush can win with a Job Approval at 47% or 48 %, but Kerry doesn't have a chance if the President's Job Approval is at 52% or 53%.

Back in April I wrote:

As a crude measuring stick for the state of the presidential race, an over 50% job approval for the President should translate into a Bush victory. A 45% - 49% job approval will mean a close race, but I would give President Bush the advantage.

I think these parameters roughly still hold true. At 49.5% in the RCP Average Bush is right on the cusp of where he needs to be to put this race away. However, on the cusp of victory is not quite the same thing as winning, and at this stage I would ratchet up the 45-49 leaning Bush range to 47-49. If the President's Job Approval were to fall to 45 or 46, as measured by the RCP Average, I think we would be looking at a dead heat race, with the momentum clearly favoring the challenger Kerry.

As things stand today, Kerry can't tolerate any more movement towards Bush in the national horse-race numbers or the President Job Approval. Trailing 3-4 points nationally and a Bush JA at 49.5% is absolutely the most Kerry can trail by and still hope to have a chance on Election Day.

However, the reason Kerry still can win with these type of numbers is because Bush is having a difficult time getting over 50% in most of the polls. The risk to the President is the undecideds come out to vote, and vote disproportionately for a change with Senator Kerry. Larry Sabato suggested last week he was "tempted to argue that Bush actually needed his full 5 to 6 percent September lead to insure a narrow victory."

I would disagree with that and suggest that unless there is strong momentum towards Kerry at the very end I think Bush will not underperform his RCP Poll Spread in the final results. What I mean by that is if the President leads by 2-3 points in the final RCP Poll average, I think he will win by at least 2-3 points. In other words I don't think the President needs a poll cushion going in to Election Day. Again, that is assuming there is not a strong final break towards Kerry, like the Bush DUI and the late break for Gore in 2000. For example if Bush is ahead 4-6 points with a week to go, but in the last three days that closes to only 1-2 points, that 1-2 point lead very well might not hold up.

The reason I think Bush will meet or exceed the final poll spread is:

1) I wonder whether there is a little bit of the Howard Dean phenomena with all the "energy" and young voters, and all the "new" people who are supposedly going to come out and put John Kerry in office. We heard this type of talk with Howard Dean earlier this year and when it came time to deliver, it was just that, a lot of talk.

2) I don't think the Black vote is going to come out in the type of numbers Senator Kerry is going to need. African-Americans certainly don't like President Bush, but they are unenthusiastic about Kerry and that will hurt the Democrats on the margins.

3) The GOP learned a hard lesson in 2000 when the Democrat's GOTV effort just crushed the Republicans. The GOP adapted and instituted their 72 hour plan which was extremely effective in 2002, and I suspect that will provide a powerful assist to the President, and could be worth as much as 1-2 points on Election Day.

All three of these issues are about turnout, and at this stage this is what the race is going to come down to in the end. Will the President's base simply overpower Kerry's and render the small number of undecideds a non-factor or will Kerry get the undecideds to break his way, and more importantly will he get enough of them to the polls on Election Day to offset the President's lead in the polls and Bush's more enthusiastic base?

I like the President's position, but Bush supporters should be wary. Kerry has kept within striking distance in the critical battleground states and any late movement for Kerry is all this race will need to be a dead heat going in to Election Day. J. McIntyre 11:48 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Monday, October 18, 2004
One at a time. First, the Mary Cheney thing. There's been a lot written on this subject and I don't have a whole lot to add, except to say that it's clear John Kerry violated one of the fundamental unwritten rules of politics last week. You simply do not bring the children of your political opponents into the campaign.

If you want to talk about your own family, fine. But to cite someone else's child as an example of anything in the context of a political debate strikes most people as offensive. The visceral response we've seen to John Kerry's remark has nothing to do with the issue of gay marriage or whether people believe homosexuality is genetic or not. It only has to do with the way Kerry offended the average person's concept of what is decent, polite and respectful behavior. The fact John Kerry didn't realize this at the time, and hasn't seen fit to recognize it in the ensuing days is going to turn off some voters. We'll see just how many.

Subject number two: lies. I find it rather astonishing that Democrats and some members of the media (like Mark Halperin) continue to harp on President Bush's dishonesty while John Kerry runs around the country telling people the President is going to reinstate the draft and take away senior citizens' Social Secuirty checks. From today's Washington Post:

"This might be a good surprise for the wealthy and well-connected, but it's a disaster for the middle class," Kerry told the congregation at Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio. "The president's privatization plan for Social Security is another way of saying to our seniors that the promise of security is going to be broken."

In recent weeks, Kerry, who has complained about Bush lodging negative and unsubstantiated attacks, has made several cutting accusations about the president based on shaky evidence.

Obviously, this is in addition to the fact that Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and the entire Democratic national party establishment have gone into full "Selma 1965 mode," hyping accusations of voter intimidation and/or telling their operatives to make them up and generally scaring the living daylights out of African-Americans all across the country.

Finally, videotape. Sinclair Broadcasting and "Stolen Honor." As a general principle I don't think Sinclair should broadcast "Stolen Honor" unless they're willing to present a rebuttal from John Kerry's point of view (though it doesn't necessarily have to be from Kerry himself).

Provided they're willing to present both sides of the story - which is more than you can say about CBS and others - then Sinclair has the right to run whatever programming they want. And Democrats have a right to try and pressure Sinclair to pull the show by threatening local advertisers with a boycott of their products. That's how we do it in America.

But it is a bit remarkable that we are only two weeks away from the election and there still has been very, very little attention paid to John Kerry's post-Vietnam record by the mainstream media. Kerry keeps saying he's proud of those days standing up and fighting against a war he thought was wrong. Great. Then what's the problem with having a discussion about those days where people can be critical of Kerry's actions and he can step up and defend them? Again, that's how we do it in America. - T. Bevan 3:15 pm Link | Email | Send to a Friend

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