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The one valid observation that I think there is to be made against so-called "Bush hatred" is that it's led folks to the left of center to focus a disproportionate quantity of ire on George W. Bush and too little on associated figures. Bill Frist is just as bad and Tom DeLay, near as I can tell, worse. Obviously, the presidential election is more important than any given congressional election, and control of the White House is probably more important than control of the congress, but the White House isn't orders of magnitude more important than the congress. Nevertheless, the race for the presidency does seem to get orders of magnitude more attention than the others. The convention, in particular, was more like The John Kerry Show, Also Featuring Bill Clinton, Barak Obama, and John Edwards than The Democratic National Convention, Starring John Kerry. The result is about what you would expect. Compare and contrast the bounce in the presidential tracking poll to the no-bounce in the generic congressional ballot. I'm fairly certain that the Kerry-centrism of the convenion passed the point of diminishing marginal returns so that a little less Kerry and a little more Democratic Party would have, on balance, been better.

August 1, 2004 | Permalink


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"These results reflect a 4-point "bounce" for Kerry from the Democratic national convention."

Isn't that considered pretty low for a post convention bounce in the polls?

Posted by: SoCalJustice | Aug 1, 2004 6:45:42 PM

echoing SoCal: How is that a 'bounce' let a lone a 4 point bounce? It seem more like a fluctuation.

If it is a bounce, and there is Joy in KerryVille that he got 1-2 more points than he had up to a week before the Convention, then Kerry is screwed.

Posted by: ChayWhat | Aug 1, 2004 6:50:13 PM

Positive but diminishing marginal returns are still, you know, good.

I don't think they overexposed Kerry and Kerry-ness. I can't imagine that the marginal returns from, say, a few podium minutes for Patty Murray would have been any better.

Voters want a "personal" relationship with the president because they will see the dude on TV all the time for the next four years.

Plus, in the eyes of, say, Canadians, Lebanese, or Japanese people, the presidency actually is orders of magnitude more important than Congress.

Posted by: next big thing | Aug 1, 2004 6:54:02 PM

I'm wondering if the lack of a "bounce" is due to the fact that the entire convention seemed to focus on thirty-five year old events and ignored the intervening years of service.

Posted by: michael murphy | Aug 1, 2004 6:55:59 PM

One problem with Rasmussen among others is that it uses 'likely voters', and that may be a dubious metric this time around. It's also been well-established that the number of people open to change their vote is smaller than previous elections. Frankly, we know that while redistricting favours Bush, deeper demographics favour Kerry. (More minorities, more women.)

Frankly, though, focusing on Kerry is important reflects the fact that this election will be fought in terms of executive powers. This is about the US on the world stage; it's about Supreme Court nominations. Do you really think that the GOP will be giving Tom DeLay a prime-time pitch on behalf of the House Republicans? Nah.

Posted by: nick | Aug 1, 2004 7:07:44 PM

I suppose it was quite deliberate, but I thought the constant repetition of "When John Kerry is President" or its variations to be strange indeed.

Posted by: praktike | Aug 1, 2004 7:09:00 PM

As I understand it, Rasmussen calibrates his poll results by adjusting for Party ID, using the baseline assumption that Party ID hasn't changed since 2000. Now, don't hold me to that, it's just something I heard somewhere.

It seems to me that his "generic congressional ballot" poll is as close as you can get to asking "what's your party ID" without actually asking "what's your party ID." Now if it's true that Rasmussen calibrates that by correcting that for Party ID, then I don't know what information content is left.

Posted by: Josh Yelon | Aug 1, 2004 7:12:22 PM

Michael Murphy: Agree that the overwhelming focus on a few months from 1969 is silly. (and voters are silly if that sways them)

One gets the sense that Kerry shipped in, shipped out, mended his unfortunate injuries, picked up his medals, and began thinking up schemes for becoming a politician.

Are we supposed to valorize him more because he was privileged and had a brief fling with war (and then resumed his privileges), rather than valorizing the proles who sign up because it's their best option?

His decision to enlist is impressive, but not impressive as all get-out. There are many better reasons to vote for Kerry.

Posted by: next big thing | Aug 1, 2004 7:12:34 PM


It seems to me that if a whole bunch of Democrats give really stirring speeches that people can identify with, then the viewers will start to detect a pattern. In other words, it doesn't matter if they say nice things about Kerry - the mere fact that a long lineup of Democrats are expressing values that people care about, over and over, is going to reflect positively on the party as a whole.

Posted by: Josh Yelon | Aug 1, 2004 7:16:31 PM

The "one" valid criticcism? How about one of many...

Basically, hatred is a destructive emotion. Pure annd simple. As long as anyone is focused on "Bush-hatred" they are blind to everything else - from how it offers nothing constructive, to how short-term sighted it is, to how is simply blinds one to their own faults - which everyone has.

The smartest thing that happened at the DNC last week was just that: they toned down the hatred. this allowed the constructive and forward-looking things to sine through.

Posted by: Dave | Aug 1, 2004 7:56:18 PM

Of course, CNN/Gallop/USA Today says that Kerry actually lost ground since last week.

People want something to vote for. I don't think the convention gave them that. Basically, the theme seemed to be "we are really Republicans, just more thoughtful than Bush!" I doubt any swing voters bought that, let alone Republicans. What's that leave? Democrats who want to hear about Gay Rights, abortion and other social/civil rights issues that the party buried.

Posted by: hanke | Aug 1, 2004 8:46:44 PM

In an electorate that most polls have shown is locked at 45/45, you are very unlikely to see a 15 point bounce. 4 points is pretty acceptable.
I actually expect the election to go something like 49/47/4, whoever wins. Unless new voters show up, or turnout is lopsided.

I also plan on waiting a week, and taking a look at the swing states, which are the interesting ones. State by state. And then looking again a week or two after the RNC. Because of huge majorities in states like New York and Texas, I simply consider national polls irrelevant.

As for congress, you win congress(and keep it) at the lowest level of politics, and then moving up. Councilman, state legislator, congress. I hope Democrats have learned this.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 1, 2004 9:11:43 PM

"'Bush hatred' ... (has) led folks to the left of center to focus a disproportionate quantity of ire on George W. Bush and too little on associated figures. Bill Frist is just as bad and Tom DeLay."OK, but not only can I not vote Bill Frist out or Tom DeLay out of office, I can't talk my friends into voting them out of office. To a certain extent, I can appeal to voters at large to vote Democrat (or Green) in their congressional elections, but I have a much more direct route to people I know and somewhat of a less direct route to their acquaintances, than I do to the electorate at large, particularly in states such as Tennessee (the state Frist represents) and Texas (which has sent DeLay to the House), where I know a grand total of zero residents. It makes more sense to organize locally to vote out senators and congresspeople, while it's important to organize nationally to get a president elected. It's a whole lot more efficient -- and thereby more effective, since you're not spreading yourself too thin -- to endorse a president and perhaps the senator and congresspeople who might be up for election in your home state, than to endorse Kerry and 468 Democratic (or Green) candidates for the House or Senate who are up in a given election year.

Posted by: Josh | Aug 1, 2004 9:18:30 PM


Fair analysis. Another reason to doubt all these national polls is that they are all over the board. So much depends on the pollster's breakdown of Republicans/Democrats/Independants, not to mention how (s)he defines likely voters. While state polls share some of these same problems, I still think they are more valuable for the reasons you stated.

Posted by: hanke | Aug 1, 2004 9:18:40 PM

Boy, a bunch of folks here got their Republican talking points on the fax machine already. Are they beaming them straight into people's heads now?

Posted by: Amanda | Aug 1, 2004 9:33:24 PM


And I thought I was being fairly bi-partisan in my comments here. We have one poll out today that shows Kerry up by 7 and another that shows Bush up by 5. And this has been happening for the past month (at least). It doesn't take a Republican "fax" to suggest that something is going on with the national polls that makes them suspect as indicators of anything right now.

Posted by: hanke | Aug 1, 2004 9:46:21 PM

No, actually I'm sleeping with Ann Coulter.
She's converted ME to Christianity, I'll tell you that much...

Posted by: next big thing | Aug 1, 2004 9:46:42 PM

"Boy, a bunch of folks here got their Republican talking points on the fax machine already"

Amanda, I suspect we have one paid troll, and some of the more rational semi-regulars are being encouraged by his persistance. I am thinking on how he might be driven away, and am looking at Drum's comment sections for guidance.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 1, 2004 9:48:21 PM

Sorry, Amanda, my tinfoil hat prevents either party from beaming their talking points directly into my brain.

But when the poll is trending from the mid-to-high 40's and the post event poll 'bumps' to 49, that hardly qualifies as a 'bounce'

If, after 4 days of "evil-doers", "deterimed resolved", and 'finish the job', Bush comes out of the RNC with anything less than 53%, he's going to have some serious problems.

Posted by: ChayWhat | Aug 1, 2004 9:52:11 PM


What about "free speech?" More to the point, if you are talking about me (and I can't believe you are considering the nice things I said about you in one of the posts on this thread), I am not paid to post here. I just enjoy a good debate, and thought that's what this was all about.

However, from your most recent post, it appears that you may really just want an echo chamber. Personally, I think it is a little boring to be surrounded by people who agree with me on everything. It also makes people intellectually sloppy.

Anyway, have to go to bed, so you won't have me to "kick around anymore" this evening.

Good night and God Bless (seriously, no sarcasim intended)!

Posted by: hanke | Aug 1, 2004 9:55:42 PM

The annoying thing is that most Bush supporters these days seem to define "Bush-hatred" as any sort of criticism against the President at all. Evidently, the Democratic Party can only be "constructive" if it campaigns the way Mickey Kaus would like them to campaign. ("Bush was great, but we just need a little break!")

Obviously, it would be bad if Democrats everywhere were seriously going off their rockers, but that just isn't happening. This is all just a club that Republicans are using to beat those who disagree with them into silence (although not very effectively).

Posted by: JP | Aug 1, 2004 10:38:44 PM

This may be a little off the subject, but.......As someone whose outrage did not need the campaign to decide who to support, I'm struck by how most others were also firmly decided months ago. That leaves the sliver of undecideds, much smaller than past elections. They either haven't been paying attention (until recently) or find themselves struggling against indifference, or some other excuse. At this late date, how does one NOT hold such (likely?) voters in contempt while wooing them to think clearly? It's a serious dilemma.

Posted by: julian | Aug 1, 2004 10:38:59 PM

Interesting thread. It begins with Matt's post about Frist and DeLay, but nearly all the comments are about the presidential polls.
I don't think Matt was talking about voting Frist or DeLay out of office. I'm not sure Frist is even up for re-election. The point was demoting them to minority leaders. Russert asked Biden the usual annoying question about Sec of State. He said he'd rather be chairman of the Foreign Relations committee. He gets it.

There are some weirdly wonderful things going on in congressional & senate races. The SD & KY special elections. Obama will take over a Rep senate seat. OK already has a Dem governor, and the Dem is favored in the senate race.

Posted by: social democrat | Aug 2, 2004 12:38:57 AM

Well, I just think it's hard to sell congressional campaigns through the national media. People don't want to hear about that stuff when they watch the big convention speeches on TV - it's too inside baseball and uninspiring. They want to hear about the President.

Maybe the strategy is to build Kerry up to the point where he'll have a gradual trickle-down effect, especially for candidates that he campaigns with as he travels around.

Posted by: JP | Aug 2, 2004 12:49:30 AM

Next Big Thing wrote:

Voters want a "personal" relationship with the president because they will see the dude on TV all the time for the next four years.

This simple/obvious but brilliant observation is so often overlooked, not factored into our politi-chat.

BTW, 'Bush Hatred' is partially phoney; it's a useful concept nurtured - in more ways than one - by the Bush camp itself. Positing irrational 'Bush Hatred' as a fact beyond dispute conveniently sidesteps all consideration of the reasons for Bush's unpopularity. (It's just 'hatin''! Can't have THAT!). Strong feelings about Bush couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that this has been a spectacularly inept, deeply and unusually bad, and even feckless, administration? No, it's just 'hatin''. Typical insurgent GOP. Can dish it out of casks with shovels, but can't take even a fraction of it. Does the whining and plaintive howling ever end? Yow! They've got a tiger by the tail this time.

Matt makes a good point - which I would paraphrase this way: spread the hate around. Congress is at least as important as the WH, most especially THIS congress, being, IMHO, among the worst in our history. (The US congress is currently, on a grander scale, the functional equiv. of the old corrupt state houses it (the Fed Gov) was 'beefed up' to correct- in other words, kind of a joke.)

Frankly, if dems could take back congress (both houses) but lose the presidency, I'd prefer that to their winning the WH but continuing the congress we have now. At least Bush would inherit his own mess - poetic justice; hell, cosmic justice. But even better would be taking back the Senate and the WH. Like it or not, you have to confront an inurgency head-on. There really is no other way.

Posted by: jonnybutter | Aug 2, 2004 3:39:00 AM

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