Lady C's InfoNapsterizer

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8.11.2004

Polling stories - 2 -- Billmon follows the post-DNC spinning balls

Dead Fox Bounce I've been resisting the impulse to join in the witless debate over whether Kerry did or did not get a "bounce" out of the Democratic convention - both because I'm trying to break my own unproductive and unhealthy fixation with the latest polls, and because I think the basic premise of the argument, at least as it's been presented in the mainstream media, is dead wrong. The conservatives are trying to spin the story as if Kerry is the one who desperately needs to change the dynamics of the race, when in fact, it's Bush who has to figure out a way to open up a lead in the key battleground states. While it's not a given that undecided voters in those states will break towards Kerry at the end, it's definitely the smart way to bet - as even some Republican strategists have conceded. That being the case, Kerry simply needed to use the convention to solidify his support, narrow the gap with Bush on national security, and establish his street cred has a potential commander in chief. By all accounts, he did all those things - and appears to have tangibly improved his position in several key swing states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, Missouri and Arizona. All this, however, was obscured by the freaky USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll that showed Bush, not Kerry, picking up points from the DNC. True, none of the other findings in the poll were consistent with the horse race numbers - Bush's approval fell slightly, Kerry gained ground both on the issues and on voter perceptions of his character, etc. But, as usual, the message discipline and sheer volume of the conservative echo chamber allowed it to frame the pseudo-debate.Which is why I just can't help but point out that the latest Fox News poll shows a five-point swing towards Kerry among registered voters, and a three-point swing among Fox's definition of "likely voters," following the Democratic convention - the same one the Fox talking pinheads spent four days trying to redefine as a liberal hate rally.Meanwhile, Bush's approval rating has dropped to 44% - a record low for the Fox poll. That's down three points from before the convention. His disapproval rating has risen to 48% - a record high - from 45% before the convention.Clearly, there's been a glitch in the Matrix. In fact, I'd say the CPU has melted on to the motherboard.Now ordinarily I can't stand to watch Fox News for more than about 30 seconds (it's like watching old Soviet newsreels, but with more expensive production values). Tonight, though, I think I'm going to have to tune in, just to hear the Flatulant Ones trash their own fucking poll. I fully expect to see the smoke pouring out of Bill O'Reilly's ears as he rails against those biased liberals at Fox News.Update 6:15 PM ET: Well, I don't know what kind of weasel talk they're spouting on the air, but the spin game has already started on the Fox News web site. Here's the headline on the poll story:Small Convention Bump for KerryBut check out these numbers:According to Fox, Kerry's support among men has increased by six points since the network's last poll, before the convention. He's now even with Bush among male voters. Kerry still leads among women by nine points.Kerry has increased his support among independents by four points since the pre-convention poll.When asked which candidate is a "stronger leader," 44% said Bush and 40% since Kerry - a 4 point advantage for Shrub. That's down from a 19 point advantage before the convention.Bush's edge on who would do a better job of fighting terrorism went from 15 points (50% to 35%) to just 6 points (44% to 38%). Kerry now holds a 7-point edge over Bush as being "more honest and trustworthy," versus and 11 point deficit on the trust issue in Fox's June poll.Fox respondents also rated Kerry as more genuine (+2 points), more optimistic (+4 points) and harder working (+5). On other hand, Bush and Kerry ranked roughly equal (40% to 39%) on the question of which man is more courageous, which I suppose just demonstrates what Ronald Reagan already taught us - that it's as politically efficacious to play a war hero as it is to actually be one. Still, the poll is full of encouraging numbers for Kerry, most of them tied to the themes of strength, decisiveness and heroism that the Dems tried to hammer home at their convention. Based on Fox's own numbers, it looks like they succeeded about as well as could be expected, and maybe even more so.This doesn't, of course, stop the Fox spinmeister/reporter from misrepresenting the numbers as best he can. My favorite example:By 43 percent to 34 percent, voters think it would be bad for the United States to change presidents during a war, with 17 percent saying it would not make a difference.That exactly reverses the significance of the responses, which show that 34% of those polled think it would be a positively good idea to swap this particular horse for another, even if it is in midstream, while another 17% don't think it makes a damn bit of difference either way. Both those numbers, by the way, are up from the last time Fox asked the question, back in May. When you're trying to run for re-election as the reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln, that's a big problem.

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