Man Without Qualities

Saturday, September 04, 2004

The Importance Of Being Bouncy V

No bounce, no glory. And conversely ...

Not to be out done by TIME's reported 11% post-Convention bounce, Newsweek is now reporting that Bush-Cheney leads Kerry-Edwards by 54 to 43 percent in a three-way race, with Bush-Cheney receiving a 13% post-Convention bounce.
And yet, the mainstream media have been assuring us for many weeks that this can't be correct - since there are almost no persuadable voters and, to the extent there are any left, they will break disproportionately towards the challenger. For example, according to this USA Today poll in three battleground states (one could Google up many more such polls) only about 15% of Bush voters would even entertain the idea of voting for Kerry - and even fewer Kerry voters will consider Bush. So it's clearly impossible for a 13% bounce to materialize. Right? Of course, these are just two polls - the final numbers are not in, and there may even be oversampling of Republicans in the polls showing the biggest bounces. But this post will take the TIME and Newsweek polls seriously for the sake of the observations included here (but very much subject to possible reevaluation).

Where have you gone, Larry Sabato? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you (Woo, woo, woo) - so perhaps you'll eventually do us the favor of explaining why your election prediction (Kerry to win!) is so at odds with the results of the two Conventions and your own last-minute incoherent fudge:

Incumbent presidents usually get a convention bounce that is smaller, often about half to two-thirds, of their less well-known challengers in the other party. Since John Kerry got a bounce estimated to be a mere two points ... this "rule" would predict that George W. Bush will gain a mere one point from New York! So why do we wonder whether history will be rewritten by the Republican Convention? It's all just too pat and pre-packaged for our tastes. .... We're engaged in pure speculation here, but if our guess is correct, might not Bush's small surge reinforce the natural high tide created by a party convention? The confluence of these two minor shifts could create a rare historical phenomenon: a convention bounce that is greater for the incumbent than for the challenger.

O, and does "the confluence of these two minor shifts" explain a result that is thirteen times the result predicted by Mr. Sabato's "rule" - a "rule" that he doesn't really repudiate while "engaged in pure speculation," anyway - or is the excess Republican performance just something to be chalked up to the part that's "all just too pat and pre-packaged for [Mr. Sabato's] tastes?" There were lots of factors predicting a big Bush-Cheney bounce that went way beyond "the confluence of these two minor shifts" - I have listed many of them here in prior posts. They were very uncomfortable factors for Democrats. When do people wake up to the fact that Larry Sabato is a bloviating, pro-Democratic shill posing as a non-partisan expert and that he says almost nothing really useful now?

It's also interesting to compare what may be a rather large Bush-Cheney bounce with what happened in 2000:

In 2000, then Texas Gov. George Bush got a 4-percentage-point bounce coming out of the Republican convention in Philadelphia, but Vice President Al Gore neutralized it with an 8-percentage-point bounce after the Democratic convention in Los Angeles, Gallup said.

If the TIME and Newsweek polls are anywhere near to being correct (and other polls show much smaller bounces than these two), then Bush-Cheney has done quite a bit better after their 2004 Convention than they did after their 2000 Convention - and Kerry-Edwards has surely done spectacularly worse after their 2004 Convention than Gore-Lieberman did after their 2000 Convention, and Gore-Lieberman then lost. That bit of history can't feel good to the Democrats and their media water carriers right now.

Which raises the question of whether the mainstream media is approaching the point of turning on and cannibalizing their Kerry-Edwards team. At some point, if the negative indicia keep mounting for the Democrats, the media will likely become fed up with backing ever-more-obvious and incompetent losers - and start to savage the Democrats. Watching the increasingly frantic and even angry talking heads on CNN and MSNBC, and reading the extrusions of similar types at the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post, suggests that their cannibalism point may be close - maybe very close.

And then there's Terry McAuliffe. There always seems to be Terry McAuliffe nowadays - out there posturing bizarrely for his many friends in the media, with ever newer ways of signaling how out of touch he and his Party have become:

McAuliffe ... acknowledged that Bush should get a "bounce" following the [Republican] convention. He based his 9-point estimate on a Bush campaign aide. ..."I want the Republicans to have an enjoyable, peaceful convention," McAuliffe said. "I want them to be able to get their voice out, because the more the American people have to hear what the Republicans have to say, the less they like about it."

Well, the American people seem to have a very strange way of signaling that the more they hear what the Republicans have to say, the less they like about it.

In advance of the more frantic Democratic and media denials of what their predictions and expectations actually were just before this Republican Convention, it's worth reviewing this tabulation of recent Democratic and media delusions:
DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe said he expected Kerry to exit with an 8- to 10-point edge. Kerry fell short of both predictions.

Democrats offered several reasons for the lower-than-expected results, and noted that the same polls that showed Kerry failing to gain ground also offer bad news for the Bush campaign.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, among others, said a nation divided starkly along political lines provides little opportunity for a presidential candidate to pick up significant support during a four-day convention.

Just before the convention, polls showed that many more Americans than usual had already made up their minds about whom to support, leaving a small number of undecided voters to woo.

Unless something dramatic occurs during the Republican National Convention, which begins Aug. 30, Bush is similarly unlikely to see his poll numbers flourish.

And this:

"It's hard to get a big bounce when, like, 90 percent of the American people have already made up their mind," says MSNBC's Chris Matthews.

Yes, when, like, 90 percent of the American people have already made up their mind, it certainly should be hard to get a 13% bounce.

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