Summary: Kerry Campaign Media Conference Call This Afternoon
I just sat in on a conference call the Kerry campaign had with the national media this afternoon. Here are the highlights:
Early Voting: More than 5 million people have already voted across the country, and information that the campaign has acquired indicates that Kerry has a big advantage over Bush in Iowa and Florida amongst those who have voted early.
State of the Race: Stan Greenberg summarized the results of a Democracy Corps poll out today:
The Democracy Corps has a new poll, conducted Friday night and Saturday morning. While the full survey will be completed on Sunday, the half-sample of 500 interviews conducted after the release of the Bin Laden tape, show the race unchanged compared to a survey completed Thursday night. The partial survey shows Kerry at 48 percent and Bush at 47 percent. Like the survey conducted before, it shows the two parties with equal numbers of party identifiers.
The Saturday respondents (250 interviews) were asked the following question: “I'm going to read you a pair of statements about the release of Bin Laden's videotape. Please tell me which one comes closer to your view.
-It makes me think that George Bush took his eye off the ball in Afghanistan and diverted resources to Iraq.
-It underscores the importance of George Bush's approach to the war on terrorism.
By 10 points (46 to 36 percent), voters were more likely to think that Bush took his eye off the ball.
Greenberg also noted “if one looks at the polls released Saturday and including polling after the release of the Bin Laden tape, Bush’s vote stands at 48 percent in one (Newsweek), 47 percent in one (Fox), and 46 percent in two (Zogby/Reuters and TIPP). That is a weaker result than for the polls released earlier in the week and prior to last weekend.”
Tad Devine made the point that Kerry is in a much stronger position now than Gore was in the final weekend four years ago. Bush is mired in mid-40’s in most of the national polls, and will not move up from there. Gore was behind in all of the major polls at this time four years ago. And Gore won by 550,000 votes.
Resources: The other issue is the resource advantage that the GOP had four years ago is gone. The Kerry campaign has a 5000 media point ad buy advantage (more paid media buys underway) over Bush in Florida, and a significant advantage in Ohio and other battleground states as well. Kerry has a 2:1 media buy advantage in Wisconsin over Bush, and a 3:2 advantage over Bush in Iowa. The campaign made the point to the reporters that this was possible because the campaign "deliberately back loaded our media buys until the end."
The Ground Game: Lockhart and Devine revealed that the Democrats and their affiliated supporters have an unheard of 250,000 volunteers on the ground and ready to get the vote out on Tuesday, with 30,000 of those in Florida alone, including hordes of attorneys in every state. What the GOP tried to do this year was match what the Democrats did in 2000 on the ground, but what they didn’t take into account was the fact that the Democrats have gone far beyond that effort this year.
Battleground State Update: Kerry is poised to do well in all the battleground states. The campaign’s own research shows that Kerry is now “clearly dominant” in Washington, Oregon, and Maine. Kerry has pulled ahead in New Hampshire, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. They described the race as “very close” in Ohio, Nevada, and New Mexico. Arkansas and West Virginia are still in play. As for the GOP’s late dash towards Hawaii, Lockhart said that it reflected more of a dire need for the White House to grab four electoral votes to get to 270 than it does a desire to pile it on the Democrats.
Joe Lockhart also stressed that the national polls at this stage are irrelevant, as what really matters are the state-by-state results. Kerry is ahead or tied in 10 of the 12 battleground states, and the campaign feels that with the army of volunteers that have been assembled for Election Day, any state that Kerry is tied in on Election Day is a state that Kerry will win.
Lockhart also pointed out to the reporters that Rove was saying the exact same things about Bush’s chances in 2000 as he is now, and Rove at this time in 2000 was predicting that Bush would get 53%-54% of the popular vote.
Lockhart made an interesting point about to what extent the GOP is going to suppress the Democratic vote and why the Kerry campaign thinks it is failing. He pointed out that the Ohio GOP has a "lower threshold for disgust" than the RNC or White House does; and the local GOP finally said they aren’t going to do what the White House expects of them. He referenced GOP Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, and said that Blackwell wasn’t comfortable going as far as the national GOP expected him to go in making it difficult for Democrats to vote.