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The LiberalOasis Blog
The daily view from the oasis

September 10, 2004 PERMALINK
Where The Race Stands
(posted Sept. 10 1:30 AM ET)

Three key points about the latest polling.

1. Polls that were taken after the GOP convention show either a Bush lead or a dead heat. Definitive assessments are not possible.

Here's how the race stands with registered voters ("likely voter" models are junk) in polls taken since Sept. 2.

Three polls are essentially a tie:

CNN-USA Today-Gallup
Bush 49
Kerry 48

Fox News
Bush 47
Kerry 45

The Economist (via Political Wire)
Bush 46
Kerry 45

(Note: Fox is only polling so-called "likely voters", not "registered voters")

Two polls (the ones you probably heard about) have Bush with relatively sizeable leads:

ABC-W. Post
Bush 50
Kerry 44

CBS
Bush 49
Kerry 42

Also, the Rasmussen daily tracking poll shows a tie (Bush 47.5 - Kerry 46.8) as of this writing.

(Keep in mind that tracking polls are meant to gauge movement, not provide accurate snapshots of support. The movement is slightly in Kerry's direction since the convention.)

Now overall, this is a shift to Bush from where the polls were in early August, when almost every poll had a Kerry lead.

But one can't accurately say Bush has a clear lead when most polls show a tie.

2. Kerry does better in the battleground.

The Gallup poll, which shows a 1 pt Bush lead nationally, has Kerry up 5 pts (50-45) in the battleground states, according to Donkey Rising.

W. Post says in "19 battleground states…the two candidates are running even," while Bush has a 6 pt lead nationally.

In both cases, Kerry performs better in the battleground than nationally.

Why might this be?

Perhaps the hard-right mega-negative convention played better in the Red states, widening Bush's lead in areas that won't matter on Election Day.

It also may mean that since Kerry's working local media markets hard in the battleground, he's getting fairer treatment there.

Similarly, it also may speak well to his ad campaign, which non-battleground voters don't see much of.

(In this vein, MyDD discusses a possible Kerry victory without a popular vote majority.)

3. There's no getting around Kerry's negatives were raised by the GOP convention onslaught.

Even in the dead heat polls, Kerry lost ground in areas like leadership, personality, ability to fight terror, flip-flopping and favorability.

Of course, there's still conflicting data.

In the Gallup poll, Kerry's favorable-unfavorable rating is 53-43, down from 57-37 after the Dem convention.

Not good, but manageable (Bush is a similar 55-44).

The CBS poll, which appears not to have pushed undecideds to choose, has far worse data for Kerry: 32-41 (with Bush at 47-39).

Can a candidate win with unfavorables in the 40s?

Well, yes. Bill Clinton did in 1992.

Near the end of the race, his fav-unfav was similarly polarizing and conflicting: 51-45 (Gallup), 52-45 (LA Times) and 33-39 (CBS/NYT).

It's not that there was widespread love for Clinton, who was dogged with attacks on his "character" by Poppy Bush, and won with just 43%.

In fact, a late CNN/Time poll had vastly more people saying Poppy was more "honest and trustworthy" than Clinton.

But Poppy's fav-unfav was still worse than Clinton, with his unfavorables generally in the low 50s.

That's Kerry goal, to jack up Bush's negatives.

Like any Bush campaign, this race will be filled with muck, making it impossible to stay positive and generate warm feelings.

Kerry can't expect his unfavorable numbers to go back down to the 30s.

But with Bush probably at his high-water mark, just after his convention, Kerry should be able to get Bush's unfavorables higher than his.

This is not to say Kerry shouldn't try to talk himself up and articulate his compelling, alternative agenda.

It's always a balancing act: promoting yourself, tearing down the other guy.

And since Kerry can't single-handedly put this campaign on the high road, going after Bush is the bigger priority.

(UPDATE 9/10 5:45 PM ET -- Three more polls today, same pattern. Zogby and Democracy Corps (both only have likely voter data) show thin Bush leads, 2 and 3 pts respectively. AP has a larger 8 pt lead.)

September 9, 2004 PERMALINK
"Failure To Perform"
(posted Sept. 9 2 AM ET)

In one of the memos from Col. Killian, a superior of Dubya's in the National Guard, obtained for the first time by CBS, Killian wrote:

...I ordered that 1st Lt. Bush be suspended from flight status due to failure to perform to USAF/TexANG [US Air Force/Texas Air National Guard] standards and failure to meet annual physical examination (flight) as ordered.

Killian was quite prescient.

How could he have known at the time how perfect "failure to perform" would be to sum up the Bush record.

John Kerry leveled a nice salvo at Bush on Iraq yesterday, shifting the media's emphasis off of himself and onto Bush's failures:

George W. Bush made the wrong choices. He himself now admits he miscalculated in Iraq...

...His miscalculation was going to war without taking every precaution and without giving the inspectors time.

His miscalculation was going to war without planning carefully and without the allies we should have had.

As a result, America has paid nearly 90% of the bill in Iraq.

Contrast that with the Gulf War, where our allies paid 95% of the costs.

George W. Bush’s wrong choices have led America in the wrong direction in Iraq and left America without the resources we need here at home.

That, and the rest of the speech, was pretty tight and on-point. (And appears to have snagged the desired headlines today.)

And the whole "wrong" theme, stemming from the earlier "W Stands For Wrong," may seem trite.

But it gets its point across in a succinct way (oh so necessary for TV sound bites).

Still, there's something about "failure to perform" -- which can easily be woven into Kerry's stump -- that gives the whole critique some extra oomph.

For example:

-- When it came to forging a real coalition, Bush failed to perform, putting almost the entire burden on us.

-- When it to came to jobs, Bush failed to perform. He promised his tax cuts would create 6 million new jobs, and he's short 7 million.

You could go on all day.

And if such rhetoric happens to implicitly remind voters about those National Guard memos, well, what can you do?

QUICK HIT

A Reminder: Bush Did Not Consider It A War Vote

The purpose of Kerry's Iraq speech was to get on the offensive, attacking Bush's record, and not have to spend time on the defensive explaining how Bush has distorted Kerry's position.

It's the right tack, and it seems to be working so far.

But Kerry threw in a little aside to remind people how consistent his own position is, and how inconsistent Bush's is.

Speaking from the same Cincinnati podium as Bush did back in Oct. '02, Kerry said:

Here in Cincinnati, [Bush] said that if Congress approved the resolution giving him the authority to use force, it did not mean that military action would be “unavoidable”.

The full quote from Bush that Kerry referred to is:

Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable.

The resolution will tell the United Nations, and all nations, that America speaks with one voice and is determined to make the demands of the civilized world mean something.

A few days later, on the floor of the Senate, Kerry took note of Bush's words as he explained his fundamental position:

As the President made clear earlier this week, "Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable." It means "America speaks with one voice."...

...In giving the President this authority, I expect him to fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people in recent days--

To work with the United Nations Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough and immediate inspection requirements, and to act with our allies at our side if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force.

If he fails to do so, I will be among the first to speak out.

Is there anything Kerry has said on Iraq that has contradicted that? No.

That's why Kerry said what he said last month:

Yes, I would have voted for that authority, but I would have used that authority to do things very differently.

Because that is completely in line with his basic position from the beginning.

It is Bush that has flip-flopped, now deeming that the force authorization vote was a war vote, when before he said it was nothing of the sort.

September 8, 2004 PERMALINK
Reflecting On The Mission
(posted Sept. 8 12:45 AM ET)

Gruesome milestones are strange things.

The fact that more than 1000 Americans have been killed in Iraq doesn't mean the war was any worse an idea, or more poorly executed, than it was yesterday.

Nevertheless, milestones prompt reflection anyway.

In particular, as we mourn our losses, it's worth reflecting on the mission.

Americans will certainly accept sacrifice if they have a clear understanding of the mission and how it bolsters national security.

But in Iraq, what is the mission?

While Bush is doing his damnedest to paint Kerry as having a fuzzy Iraq position, what's so clear and consistent about Bush's?

The mission was first to remove the WMD threat, but they couldn't find any.

Then it was to liberate Iraq and install democracy.

But Bush says Iraq is already liberated, and no one is saying elections in January will lead to troops coming home.

Whenever Bush is asked when troops will come home, all he says is "when the job is done."

But he doesn't say what the job is.

If you want to compare what the two campaigns say they will do in Iraq going forward, John Kerry's website explains his plan here.

George Bush's website explains his plan … uh … it's somewhere around here … uh … maybe in this … uh … we'll get back to you.

September 7, 2004 PERMALINK
Did Kerry Blunt The Bounce?
(posted Sept. 7 12:15 AM ET)

Here's what LiberalOasis had to say on 8/17 about the need for Kerry to attack:

The time for...ads that go for the jugular is probably now.

It made sense for Kerry for stay positive during this "intro" phase of the last few weeks.

But with Bush on the offensive, to stay on the high road much longer risks 1988 redux.

However, since Kerry needs to sit on his money for a couple more weeks to avoid being outspent in the last few weeks, we'll probably have to live with being a little frustrated on this score until Labor Day.

And what happened?

Kerry got dinged some since then (though his late Aug. counterattack contained the damage) and frustration among Dems grew.

But as expected, he began a real (fact-based) attack on Bush right after the GOP convention.

Over the weekend, the mainstream media got suckered into trumpeting the big Bush leads in the Time and Newsweek junk polls -- taken during the convention, not after, rendering them useless.

But the one poll so far covering the three days afterwards, CNN-USA Today-Gallup, Bush shows no bounce at all among registered voters.

A 48-47 Kerry edge before became a 49-48 Bush edge now, statistically insignificant movement. (More analysis from Donkey Rising.)

In all likelihood, Kerry's furious campaigning -- beginning at midnight Fri., blunted the bounce (as LO suggested on Fri.)

By being active, aggressive and confident, he prevented Bush from getting victory lap press that would have furthered his messages from the convention.

Unfortunately, Kerry's own messages were hemmed in by the mind-numbing stupidity of the Beltway Dems, whining to the press about strategy throughout the long weekend.

Instead helping with strategy by amplifying Kerry's messages.

(See LO on 4/28 for the most recent time this page called on whiny Beltway Dems to shut up.)

For the last time (this year) Establishment people: this is all-out combat, and we have one leader.

You have a problem with the campaign, then tell it to the campaign.

Telling the media is for your ego. Not for the cause. Not for the country.

There are 56 days left. Get your damn game faces on, and get behind the big guy.

The Blog Wire
Tracking the liberal blogosphere

Air America's Morning Sedition (6-9 AM ET) has Matthew Brzezinski and Mark Crispin Miller

Pacific Views: "Al-Jazeera 'Indefinitely' Banned"

Kerry O-Blog: "Bush Should Come Clean on Saudi Arabia and 9-11"

Just World News: "If I were Karl Rove, what would I need to have happen in Iraq before November 2?"

Talk Left on the "ridiculous" Pentagon investigation into Kerry's medals

Hullabaloo resurrects the famous '92 Dubya wedding video

**************

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