Man Without Qualities

Friday, July 23, 2004

Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose XLVII: Comic Relief

Why does the Los Angeles Times spend good money on its ridiculous and methodologically absurd polls and on attaching Ron Brownstein's Democratic cheerleading (er, I mean "poll analysis") to them when the paper already runs a perfectly serviceable funnies pages?

The reader may recall that last month's Los Angeles Times poll showed John Kerry leading George Bush by more than 7% - a result which Karl Rove promptly pointed out was not even mathematically consistent with the details of the poll results unless Democrats had been over-sampled by more than 10%. Mr. Rove turned out to be right.

Now the Times is back with a "new" poll and mostly absurdist color commentary from Mr. Brownstein that does not even mention, never mind admit, the sampling problems of last month's poll - but which now shows Senator Kerry leading Mr. Bush by a mere 2% among registered voters. There is no mention of the party affiliation of the sampled voters, and Mr. Brownstein directly compares this month's results to last month's - all of which ought to means that the poll methodology has not been changed, unless the Times is leaving out a whopping material fact that makes Mr. Brownstein's comparisons completely misleading. But what else would be new? Mr. Brownstein's comments are discussed a bit here and here, but I want to focus on what is really the biggest news in this poll. Mr. Brownstein notes:

The poll found signs of positive trends for Bush since the June survey. The 54% who say the country is on the wrong track is down from 58% last month; the percentage that says the economy is doing well edged up from 51% last month to 55% now. But both those changes are within the survey's margin of error.

Kerry's lead has also dwindled since June. In the new survey, he leads Bush by 48% to 46% in a two-way matchup; last month he led by 7 percentage points. In a three-way contest, Kerry now draws 46%, Bush 44% and Nader 3%; last month, Kerry held a 6-percentage-point lead in this matchup.

While the media just doesn't want to address it, what we are seeing here is the glacial advance of the continuing good news for the domestic economy. Even in this preposterously biased poll, Kerry is shrinking and both the "right/wrong track" question, and its near-surrogate asking if the "economy doing well/poorly," each swung 4% in favor of the incumbent in one month. As often noted here, if the economy continues to improve, that progression will continue for the next several months leading to the November election. The accumulation of that trend would be more than enough to put Mr. Bush and his party snugly back in power.

That the Democrats and the campaign will focus on the domestic economy is further evident from the poll being just chocked-full of reasons for Senator Kerry to steer well clear of terrorism-related and "values" topics. For example, there is Mr. Brownstein's buried admission that Bush leads by 18 percentage points when voters are asked which candidate "would be best at keeping the country safe from terrorism"; he holds a 6-percentage-point advantage when voters are asked which candidate shares their moral values. Sure enough, the Senator has promised to begin to "lead" on intelligence reform and terrorism only well after he takes office, so don't bother him for terrorism "leadership" or ideas during the campaign.

Seems like he'd much rather talk about how the economy is failing voters in those "battlefield states."

Fancy that. Who would have thought such a thing?

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