September 23, 2003
Riding the poll waves

So now with Wesley Clark a declared candidate for President, we've got a CNN/USA Today poll and a Newsweek poll that not only shows him leading the Democratic field, but also shows him in a virtual tie with President Bush. I'm still leaning towards Dean, but there's no doubt in my mind that this is a good thing, and if Clark winds up being the candidate, I'll be happy to carry the flag for him.

What's more interesting is that the CNN/USA Today poll shows that all of the top Democratic candidates (Kerry, Gephardt, Lieberman, Dean) are basically tied with Bush, while the Newsweek poll says that Bush leads most of them, including Dean by a 52-38 mark. Ruy Teixeira uses the latter poll as reason to doubt Dean, while Atrios uses the former as evidence that all the Democrats are electable. What I haven't seen anyone mention so far is that this is the first poll that I've seen in which a specific Democrat who's actually running is not losing a head-to-head matchup with Bush. I've seen plenty of Bush-versus-generic-Democrat polls that show him tied or losing, and some Bush-versus-Gore-or-Hillary polls that show a close match, but every other Bush-versus-Gep/Kerry/Dean/Lieberman/etc poll I've seen up till now had Bush with over 50% and the Dem around 40%. That's the most significant thing about this to me.

All that said, I agree with Republican pollster Bill McInturff here:

"There are plenty of examples where you get this enormous bounce and it usually settles quickly," said McInturff, citing Republican Sen. John McCain's showing in a South Carolina poll taken after his victory in the 2000 New Hampshire primary in 2000.

Public opinion is extremely unpredictable early in the election cycle as voters have not focused on the race, according to McInturff, who noted that Republican Bob Dole was running ahead of President Clinton the year before the election. Clinton prevailed in 1996.

The election is a long way off, and a lot can happen. I said that to landslide-predicting Bush supporters last year, and I'll say it now to my fellow Democrats. Bush may be down now, but he's got plenty of time to get back up. Let's not give him the chance.

Oh, and one last thing: In the charts of the USA Today poll, down in section 11 where they ask about whether you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of some specific people, am I the only person who finds it funny that Hillary Clinton is the only one for which "Never heard of" is not an option?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 23, 2003 to The making of the President | TrackBack

You're not the only one.

Posted by: Beldar on September 25, 2003 12:31 AM