Latest Polls Tighten
Thanks to PollingReport.com for the graphic
Several new polls out in the last couple of day, none of which show any new trends.
American Research Group came out with their latest nationwide poll yesterday, which showed a narrowing of a previous Kerry lead. In this latest poll, done late last week of registered voters, Kerry leads Bush by only 48%-46%. These numbers were 47%-44% in Kerry’s favor last month.
A new Gallup Poll out yesterday showing a Kerry lead of 49%-44% over Bush among registered voters and 50%-44% among likely voters, after Kerry led by only 48%-46% late last month. What is more interesting in the Gallup poll however is the degree that Kerry is not only leading in the blue Gore states from 2000, but also how little he is behind in Bush’s red states. For example, with Nader in the race, Kerry trails Bush by only six points among registered voters (47%-41%) in the red states, while beating Bush by 15 points (51%-36%) in the blue states. In the “purple” battleground states, Kerry still clings to only a two-point lead (45%-43%) among registered voters with Nader in the race. This poll was taken through Sunday night.
A Zogby poll taken through Saturday shows Kerry’s lead dwindling to two points (44%-42%) amongst likely voters. The most interesting item in the Zogby poll is that while Bush’s approval rating has gone up recently, support for both has slipped 3-4 points since March, and the number of undecideds has gone up. Zogby speculates that the earlier bump in undecideds was a result of Bush losing some of his GOP support, and the recent bump in undecideds came from Kerry losing some of his base now.
Kerry seems content to go with the Last Man Standing approach until the election, with the only major new development between now and the convention being the naming of a running mate. At a time when we can expect Bush’s numbers to gradually go up as the economy firms up and (hopefully) Iraq moves cautiously into self-rule, Kerry is seeing slippage in his base towards the undecided column. Part of this is definitely a function of the decisions Kerry has made about the tone and aggressiveness of his campaign, which I have browbeaten to death. Part of it also stems from the advantages a conservative incumbent has with a conservative, hero-worshiping media. However, what if Bush’s numbers do keep rebounding (and I know that is a big “if”) and Kerry remains content to play a four-corners offense until a running mate is named and until the convention? If this happens, then Kerry is betting the ranch on nailing the right running mate choice, having a bounce-inducing convention, and Bush having more bad news. But we now know that Bush will try to stage a Reagan love-a-thon at the GOP convention to get as large a bounce as he can.
In the absence of an aggressive campaign, running a four-corners offense and aiming to hang around as the Last Man Standing, on the assumption of a good convention and a great running mate choice is a risk. Kerry may very well see continual slippage from his base to Nader, and this would be compounded if Kerry bungles the running mate selection by going with Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, as is rumored in some quarters.