Sub Pop

by Ted on September 6, 2003

We all know that polls taken more than a year before the election are going to have virtually no predictive power. But this analysis caught my eye:

Some 41 percent of all registered voters say they will definitely vote against Bush; just 29 percent say they will definitely vote for him. So Bush must woo about seven in ten swing voters — not a difficult task for a popular incumbent, but far from a certainty.

Does it make sense to call him a “popular incumbent” in the sentence immediately after the one that says that 41% of likely voters will vote against him, and 29% will vote for him?



Keith M Ellis 09.06.03 at 2:53 am

It makes sense if one assumes that the writer is aware of the difference between this poll and the standard popularity polls….which still show Bush as being fairly popular.

However, the truth is that Bush is (and always has been, in my opinion) substantially more weak than has been supposed. He should have been an easy target in 2000, and he will definitely be an easy target in 2004. The problem is that the Democrats have been offering only very poor candidates.

If Clinton were to run in 2004, he’d win in an historic landslide, even considering the bad taste he, er, left in our mouths.

Even at the height of Bush’s popularity after 9-11, my gut intuition has continually told me that there’s a slightly better than even chance he won’t be re-elected in 2004. But this crop of Democratic candidates are providing me with much hope. It’s a huge mistake for the Democrats to run farther to the left than Gore in 2000. The Republicans after ’92 thought that their mistake was in being too moderate with Bush and their core constituency cheered Gingrich and company on in ’94. And look how that turned out. What the party faithful say and what the general electorate want are two very different things. I hope that the Democrats figure this out soon. Not coincidentally, I also figure out that the Republicans rediscover this principle, as well.


Keith M Ellis 09.06.03 at 2:55 am

(Ooops. Proofreading is out friend: “But this crop of Democratic candidates are providing me with much hope” should have included a “not” between “are” and “providing”.)


eric 09.06.03 at 4:04 am

That analysis by CNN is utter garbage at this stage. Its not even worth commenting on. Just more verbal vomit from people who get paid to write.


Copeland 09.06.03 at 5:43 am

The negatives are bearing down on Bush. Without any admission of fault he is reversing himself on UN participation in Iraq. The US economy is in awful shape (Not so good for me either; I just got laid off)

The best news is that the Democratic candidates are emboldened to challenge Bush directly and with strong, honest language.


Ophelia Benson 09.06.03 at 5:40 pm

“The best news is that the Democratic candidates are emboldened to challenge Bush directly and with strong, honest language.”

It would be even better news if Democratic candidates didn’t need to be emboldened. If they were in fact already bold. If in fact they weren’t such spineless suckups that they have to wait until someone is already unpopular before saying firmly and directly exactly what is wrong with his policies. If they could manage to bring themselves to do something other than shoot fish in a damn barrel!


Matt McIrvin 09.07.03 at 1:50 pm

I’ve said a lot of nutty and just plain wrong things on this subject in the past few months and I’m not sure what I believe right now.

I keep telling myself this: A lot can happen in a year and a half. And it takes time for information to filter out to the people who are not particularly interested in paying attention to politics. Most Americans can’t even name the major Democratic candidates right now. And at this time in 1991, Bill Clinton was a joke.


The Washington Post recently did a poll revealing that three-quarters of Americans still think it very or somewhat probable that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. And there’s been essentially no change in that number in the past year. It’s gone down a little from fall 2001 (when so little was yet known that the position was arguably reasonable), but not by much.

Given that one number, it will take another major sea change in attitudes for any Democrat to win in 2004– one that hasn’t happened yet, regardless of how little confidence people have in Bush.

In 2001-2002, I extended a large amount of probably unwarranted mental credit to Bush on military matters, because of how he carried out the immediate Sept. 11 aftermath and the Afghanistan war, and how incorrect I felt his harshest critics were on that score. The way Iraq has developed makes it clear that in general he doesn’t know what he’s doing. But as far as I can tell, most Americans are still in the earlier mindset. They will continue to regard the Iraq war as reasonable retaliation for Sept. 11, and Bush as the guy who did it.


joseph 09.08.03 at 12:16 am

The tide may be turning. This morning’s NPR story on Iraq & tonight’s speech was all about a climb down by the administration. NPR ain’t CNN, I know, but I was struck by the shift in both tone & perspective. I’m not making any predictions, but I did, back on New Year’s Eve 1998, bet a friend a bottle of port that one of the Bush brothers would be elected after Clinton & I collected. I’m jes’ sayin’. . .


JRoth 09.08.03 at 7:28 pm

Sorry, Keith, but your analysis falls apart in the first sentence. Latest Zogby poll has his positive job performance numbers at 45%

That’s simply not “popular”. But it seems that it will take hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets across the country to protest Bush’s actions to convince the media that he’s not “a popular wartime president.”

What’s that? Oh.

Make that “tens of millions of people.”

On another note, is “running farther to the left than Gore” a meaningful statement? “Faster than a Yugo”? “Taller than a midget”?

There’s running right or left, and then there’s running weak or strong. Dean is centrist, but runs strong. So everyone somehow assumes that a pro-gun, anti-deficit Democrat must be to the left of Nader if he dare raise his voice against Dear Leader. I know Keith isn’t coming at this as some arch-conservative, but his analysis is really troublesome, for the disconnect from the facts, and the close connect to Conventional Wisdom.

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