Man Without Qualities

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Ah, The Bounce! II

Don Luskin e-mails to point out that the Bush re-election futures at, which I regard as the best poll, show a negative bounce for Kerry-Edwards following the Convention. Bush has gained three points there since the Democratic Convention.

Pejman Yousefzadeh is also on the case:

I'll make no bones about the fact that I am paying close attention to the tracking of the Presidential race on the Iowa Electronics Market. Right now, their graph shows that even in the immediate wake of the Democratic National Convention, the Bush-Cheney team is priced higher than the Kerry-Edwards duo. As of now, the current market quote for Bush-Cheney is 0.521, while Kerry-Edwards's market quote is 0.477.

There's more - and it's all well worth reading. Pejman ends with the observation And we haven't even had our convention yet. Many thanks to Mike Daley for drawing my attention to Pejman's post - and to Pejman.

I think there are some very good reasons what the Democratic Convention should have provided little, no or even negative bounce for Kerry-Edwards, and I don't think the same factors will apply to the Republican Convention.

First, there was the bizarre timing of the Democratic convention: Late July, when only political junkies want to hear about politics. The late-July-August political black hole will be over by the time the Republican Convention begins - so a lot more people will be paying attention and will want to pay attention. [On the other hand, there is this curious decision by Bush-Cheney to work hard in August. One wonders if this has more to do with Bush-Cheney having a lot of money still to spend before the Republican Convention - at which point Mr. Bush says he plans to accept federal money and will not be allowed to spend any pre-Convention money he retains.]

Second, the message conveyed by the Democratic Convention was no different than the message the mainstream media has been issuing for many weeks. That is, there was little or no new positive (that is, positive for Kerry-Edwards' prospects) information produced at the Democratic Convention, where by "new information" I don't just mean information that a well-informed expert would have considered "new." I mean the Democratic Convention didn't produce material information that an average person paying no more attention to politics than he/she normally does during the summer would have considered "new." The well-discussed zombification ("Stepfordifying?") of the Democratic delegates and other forms of "message control" exercised at that Convention may have contributed to the paucity of new information. In fact, the most important piece of "new" information generated by the Democratic Convention may have been that this candidate has no new ideas or approaches whatsoever and essentially swore during his acceptance speech he never will. That bit of "new information" may account for some of a negative bounce if there were one.

In contrast, the Republican Convention will present the Republican Party's view of President Bush's record and of all things Republican. That's a viewpoint with which a consumer of mainstream media is not exactly saturated - and for an average person paying no more attention to politics than he/she normally does during September of an election year will quite likely find that point of view to include lots of "new information." And there is plenty of opportunity for Mr. Bush to propose some genuinely new proposals not yet known to even a well-informed expert.

So I expect that there will be a considerable bounce for Bush-Cheney following the Republican Convention - despite the historical fact that challengers and Democrats generally receive more of a bounce than incumbents and Republicans.


Newsweek spins its own poll:

Coming out of the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Sen. John Kerry now holds a seven-point lead over President George W. Bush (49 percent to 42 percent) in a three-way race with independent Ralph Nader (3 percent), according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll The poll was taken over two nights, both before and after Kerry's acceptance speech. Respondents who were queried after Kerry's Thursday night speech gave the Democrat a ten-point lead over Bush. Three weeks ago, Kerry’s lead was three points. Kerry’s four-point “bounce” is the smallest in the history of the NEWSWEEK poll.

And what does that make a 2% bounce in a two-candidate race?

And does it seem likely that including Nader in the mix doubles the Kerry-Edwards bounce? And how about this: Doing some calculations, it works out to be a [Newsweek] poll mixture of about 37% Democrats, 29% Republicans, and 34% Independents. If scientists were to do to their animals what pollsters like Newsweek determined to detect a bounce for Kerry-Edwards seem to be doing to their poll methodologies, PETA would try to burn down the laboratory.

It's also worth noting that the Newsweek poll sample is drawn from registered voters - not likely voters. Sampling registered voters tends to favor Democratic candidates most of the time.


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