Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The Fire Within II: Looking For Mr. Goodvoter

As noted in the immediately preceding post, the Man Without Qualities regards the oft-repeated argument that there really couldn't be much of a bounce from the Democratic Convention this year because there just aren't that many persuadable voters out there to be disingenuous. The argument has two related themes (or "memes" - to use the blogosphere affectation): (1) the Republican convention will also probably have little of no bounce, and (2) the small positive blip arguably produced by the Democratic convention may be enough, since even that blip represents a large part of the "persuadable voters" - who are now for some reason to be deemed "solidified." But the evidence is mounting that the argument and its related themes are not just disingenuous - they may be just plain silly.

If, indeed, the paucity of persuadable voters limited the scope of the Democratic blip, they why the heck did Republicans get such a big boost from the Democratic Convention:

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No bounce, and that's striking. They show there might have been a very brief bounce -- I wouldn't call it a bounce, I'd call it a blip. Among people interviewed on Friday, the day after the convention, Kerry was ahead by five points. But then we continued to interview on Saturday. Those interviewed on Saturday -- Bush moved back into a slight lead of two points. And we are going to continue to interview people. But this looks like the shortest bounce on record.

BLITZER: And is that because the country basically had already made up their mind? There wasn't a whole lot of room for undecideds? That's what the Democrats keep saying.

SCHNEIDER: And it looks like the Democrats had a point.

What we're showing is that before the convention, the Democrats were hugely enthusiastic about voting. Over three-quarters of them said they were more enthusiastic than usual. After this convention, the number of Democrats who said they were enthusiastic went up only slightly. They were already rallied. They already had their bounce.

But what really changed is that the Republicans, the Bush voters went way up in enthusiasm. They gained eight points.

So it looks like, yes, the convention rallied voters but it rallied Republicans more than Democrats. The only good news here for Democrats is Democrats are still more enthusiastic about voting than Republicans are.

Let's recap:

(1) The Republicans gained eight points from the Democratic Convention, which was exactly the bounce that before the Convention Terry McAuliffe predicted Kerry-Edwards would receive, but which we are now supposed to believe was "all but impossible" because there just aren't that many persuadable voters. Also, there were enough persuadable voters so that there might have been a very brief bounce - but then the bounce went away. Did the number of persuadable voters shrink dramatically in a day?

(2) The Democratic convention could not "rally" its voters any more because they were already maximally "enthusiastic" before the Convention. But Democrats are still more enthusiastic about voting than Republicans are. So the upcoming Republican Convention can in principle "rally" its voters, since they are not maximally "enthusiastic" before that Convention.

To which we might add an observation made here in prior posts:

(3) A big reason the Democrats were already maximally enthusiastic is that the media flooded the marketplace with every scrap of pro-Kerry information before the Democratic Convention. The net effect is to kill all bounce - thereby depriving Kerry-Edwards of any sign of "momentum" out of their convention. Failure to acquire momentum out of a Convention is disaster for Kerry-Edwards - and the disaster was largely caused by the liberal media trying to do their friends the Democrats a big gooey favor. As a version of the old saying goes: With friends like these, who needs political opponents?

In sum: The most important restrictions - especially including the paucity of persuadable voters - supposedly capping the bounce that could have generated by the Democratic convention simply won't apply to the upcoming Republican convention.

That doesn't mean there will be a Republican bounce. After all, President Bush might do just as poor a job as John Kerry did. But at least the Republicans have the advantage of the mainstream media trashing them whenever possible before the Convention, so that Bush-Cheney can in principle present lots of positive new information at their convention ... receive a nice, big bounce ... and acquire some substantial forward momentum.

Of course, in the end, it's the domestic economic numbers that will matter most. The rest is all nuance!

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