Man Without Qualities

Monday, August 02, 2004

Ah, The Bounce! IV

This Economist poll seems to show no bounce or a slight negative bounce for Kerry-Edwards coming out of the Convention.

Meanwhile, back at the Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll, today's results - the first day's results with data Rasmussen says are based entirely upon interviews conducted after John Kerry's speech at the Democratic National Convention - shows Senator John Kerry with 47% of the vote and President George W. Bush with 46%. Rasmussen concedes that reflects a two-point negative bounce from the poll results immediately prior to Kerry's speech, but is within the Poll's margin of error. Just before his acceptance speech that, in the words of the New York Times, did a fine job of rousing the faithful, Kerry was leading Bush 48% to 45%.

And that "fine job" may have exactly the problem with the Kerry speech - as Paul Gigot points out. But as I have noted in prior posts, Kerry's speech was willful in denying his audience material positive new information. For example, the average person may not know as much about Senator Kerry as he or she desires, but I would be very surprised if that average person didn't know that Senator Kerry served briefly in Vietnam and makes a lot out of that service - so the entire "patriotic liberalism" show at the Convention was probably not new information. That he doesn't like the Iraq incursion and offers some weasly observations in that regard? - so what else is new? The liberal mainstream media has been flooding the political marketplace with every bit of positive pro-Kerry information they could come up with for months - so what was left for the Convention to do?

Well, there was something. The free-spending domestic proposals the Senator rehearsed were pretty much Democratic Party boilerplate. He completely eschewed the Clintonian approach of "triangulation" and all attempts to suggest that he had or ever would have a genuinely new approach to any significant domestic problem. That might count as "new" information - and for the Party "faithful" it apparently counted as welcomed reassurance. But for wavering Republicans, independents and responsible or conservative Democrats, I doubt if Senator Kerry's implied "read-my-lips, no-new-ideas" pledge affected their opinion of the Senator in any positive way.

Which brings up the issue of polls and markets. Tom Maguire is exactly correct when he notes that to the extent the political futures markets reflect the polls:

[T]he markets are (as we all remember) playing an expectations game. A Bush market rally means the Dem Convention was a disappointment, to market participants if not excitable liberals. However, that does not mean Kerry will get *no* bounce in the polls; it may simply be that he gets a smaller than previously expected bounce.

The markets reflect (or should reflect) polling results - but they reflect much more information than what is included in polls. In this case, the futures markets started moving against Kerry well before the polling results were out. Of course, very close to election day the markets and the polls expectations should largely converge.

But this far before the election the markets should be driven by sufficiently liquid, well-informed experts and arbs, not by the ordinary people, whether or not they participate in that market. The polls, on the other hand, are driven by what the ordinary person thinks - not what a well-informed expert or arb expects. Put another way, markets are (or should be) driven by expectations, where poll results exhibit (or are supposed to exhibit) current voter preferences. Of course, this all presumes that the markets one references are liquid and active. References to "new" or "thin" markets are just misleading wastes of time - even if the reference is accompanied by a caveat.

"Bounce" means many things to many people, even within the polling business. To be painfully repetitive and obvious about it: A market "bounce" is not a poll "bounce."

But both markets and polls are now showing no real new enthusiasm for the Kerry-Edwards convention performance. And that's new information.

Comments: Post a Comment