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Thursday, October 14, 2004

Is Zogby Right About Arkansas?

Posted by DavidNYC

Team Kerry has all but pulled out of Arkansas. I know that some people on this disagree with this move, but I'm not sure where exactly I come down. Most pollsters show Bush winning the state pretty handily at this point, but Zogby has consistently shown it to be a close race. Here are all the known polls since the Republican convention:


Polling Date











Rasmussen ($)






Opinion Research






Zogby ($)












Survey USA
























Zogby ($)






I want to point out that the Zogby polls listed here aren't all just the Interactive polls. The most recent one at the top appears to be a traditional poll, so I find it quite interesting that those results match so closely with Zogby's online results. As you can see, Zogby has even had Kerry leading by a tiny bit on occasion. And Bush is well below 49% in all polls.

So what gives? If we were just talking about the online polls, I might be tempted to write these results off. But the coroboration by the traditional poll is quite striking. And Zogby has polled this race too often to be written off as a mere outlier. But if Zogby is really correct, that would mean Rasmussen, SUSA and Opinion Research are all wrong - though ARG's 9/16 poll does appear to be in common with Zogby's results.

What if the Big Dog delivers a great speech in Little Rock, rising from a wheelchair, Roosevelt-like, on the eve of the election? Might Bush be in for a nasty November surprise in Arkansas? It's easy to think of many scenarios where AR's 6 EVs would make the difference for us, so I would hate to see the state wind up as this year's Ohio.

So what do you think? Can we win here, despite the apparent pullout?

(Poll data courtesy Race2004.net.)

Posted at 02:14 PM in Arkansas | Technorati


I have long maintained that Kerry has a chance in Arkansas. My girlfriend grew up there, and I know anti-Yankee sentiment doesn't run nearly as strong there as most other Southern states, meaning the Boston Brahmin might not be instantly repulsive. There are a striking numbers of white Democrats in Arkansas, particularly in the northeastern part of the state, which also gives Kerry a reasonable edge.

I have also long suspected a rousing Clinton speech soon before the election, with Slick struggling his way up to the podium propped up by two canes in a last-minute effort to support his man, providing a late sympathy vote that will benefit Kerry.

The Kerry campaign was colossally foolish to pull out of Arkansas so foolish. The most recent poll showing Bush with a nine-point lead is hard to believe given the internals. The poll broke down the vote in all four Congressional districts. In three of the districts, the margins were similar or slightly bluer than last time, but in the southern Arkansas district where Clinton is from, Bush is allegedly ahead by 17 points....even though Gore won it last time. I have a hard time buying that, particularly when one considering how many African Americans live in this district. Even if it is true, favorite son Clinton could really rally his neighbors with a last-minute speech vigorously supporting Kerry.

Kerry's chances in AR were probably never better than 45%, but I continue to believe he should still be running ads there, focusing on populist themes such as the tiny amount of the overall tax relief passed by the Bush administration that made its way into the pockets of the average Arkansan. Given that it's such a cheap market to advertise in, I really think Kerry should make a last-minute pitch in the state if at all possible. Extending an olive branch to a Southern state this late in the campaign could provide a needed shot in the arm for the national Democratic Party.

Posted by: Mark at October 14, 2004 02:39 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Pulling out of AR was not smart...it is the most Democrat-friendly state in the south, Gore barely lost it last time, and with a little stumping from Edwards and/or Clinton (we miss you, Bill!), it could easily turn blue. Please, Bill, don't let them forget!

We have about as good a chance of winning AR as the Bushies have of winning NM or PA, so it's not out of the range of possibility. All it would take is a little work. I've always worried that the Kerry campaign may be so obsessed with the biggies (FL and OH) that they forget smaller states that could make the difference (AR, WV, NH, NV, CO, MO). However, I'm glad to see Kerry visiting NV...I hope we stop the massive fraud going on there!

For a while, TN looked plausible, but now it seems to have left the range of possibility. If the Kerry campaign had hundreds of millions of bucks to throw around, I'd recommend trying for LA, TN, KY, WV, VA, NC, GA, AZ, and some other more difficult states, but they don't. I do wish we'd start trying to take back some of the South, though...states like AR and WV would be fairly blue if we could dedicate a lot of effort to them.

It's going to come down to several states this year: FL, NV, CO, NM, IA, WI, OH, NH, and perhaps to a much lesser extent AR, WV, MO, OR, and/or PA. I expect us to keep the Gore states unless something dramatically changes and pick up NH and OH, NV, CO, and/or FL.

Because of their efforts to contaminate FL already by getting Nader on the ballot there, etc., I think that they are more likely to steal FL than OH...after all, Nader's off in OH, OH is using a paper trail (I think), and Bush's brother isn't the governor of OH. Thus, it's probably more safe for us to hit OH than FL, even though I think FL is really more liberal.

Posted by: Nathaniel at October 14, 2004 02:58 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Arkansas is a fairly inexpensive media market, so the Kerry campaign should run a few ads in Little Rock and especially in the markets in the northern part of the state, which also impacts on MO. Like AR, MO is a state where northerners with a touch of the Southern about them (Stevenson-Kefauver, Kennedy-Johnson, Carter, Clinton-Gore 2X) often win. And it is the true bellwether state, so how can Kerry-Edwards write it off? Quick polling will see if the ads are helping, and whether they should be continued.

WV is also worth a continued play; Democratic heritage does not disappear overnight. It's still a lot more Democratic than Colorado, which almost always disappoints in the end (not for Salazar, I hope!)

Posted by: Curtis from NYC at October 14, 2004 03:33 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I think AR is worth a Clinton visit, if he's up to it, but not more. There are riper fruits, and closer to the ground, than AR.

Posted by: Marsden at October 14, 2004 03:55 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Here's something to chew on about Zogby's accuracy:

Check out who was dead-on in 2000:

October 27, 2000
Web posted at: 8:36 p.m. EDT (0036 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush holds a 49-to-43 percent edge over Democratic rival Al Gore in the latest CNN/Time poll, conducted Wednesday and Thursday.

The poll is in essential agreement with a CNN/USA Today/Gallup tracking poll also released Friday. That poll gives Bush a 52 percent-39 percent edge over Gore.

ABC News and The Washington Post both have daily tracking polls today putting the race at 48 percent for Bush and 45 percent for Gore. The latest Reuters/MSNBC/Zogby tracking poll has the contest at 45 percent for Gore and 43 percent for Bush.

Posted by: DM at October 14, 2004 05:04 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

if you reweight that abc poll from 2000 it would've been accurate!

Today's abc poll (reweighted)
Kerry 49%
Bush 47%

Posted by: ed at October 14, 2004 06:52 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

By the way, does anyone know where I can find current party registration numbers for each state?

Posted by: Nathaniel at October 14, 2004 07:36 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The Democrats are going to have a hard time winning in a national election so long as they write off the South. I remember during the Democratic primaries, Kerry made a comment that "we don't need the South." He may come to regret having said that.

Advertising in AR must be a lot less expensive than say, northern VA or NC. It would have been worth putting at least some effort into the state. That said, I think the gay marriage referendum in AR, which will be on the Nov. 2nd ballot, will secure the state for Bush. Look at the record numbers that came out in MO in August (!) all to vote against gays. I would think AR is even more homophobic than its homophobic neighbor to the north, which at least has two major urban areas, St. Louis and KC. The polls may show AR as being close, but they cannot predict how many folks who normally skip elections will come out for this one to discriminate against gays and while they're at it, vote for Dubya.

Posted by: pepe at October 14, 2004 09:21 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I'm not so sure pulling out is such a bad move. The question here isn't "Can he win the state," but "What are the costs and (possible) benefits of contesting it?"

Zogby, whatever his bona fides, is something of an abberation here, and we know that Gore--a southerner with one degree of separation from the Big Dog--couldn't take it last time around. Boston Brahmin takes AK? Well, maybe. But given that Kerry is still uncomfortably close in a bunch of realistically winnable states that Gore won in 2000 and that he really needs--ME, (NH), IA, MN, WI, NM--I can see how the campaign folks decided that it's wiser to spend the time and money elsewhere.

If Clinton rises from his wheelchair to give a rousing speech and he can take the state, gravy. But if Kerry's folks are really thinking that they may need AK to get to 270, it's already over.

Posted by: RIposte at October 14, 2004 09:34 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Kerry doesn't need Arkansas, if he can win Ohio. There are several ways to get Kerry into the 280s in electoral votes.

But he needs to sweep in New England, and he needs to sweep the Big 10 Democratic states (MN, WS, IA, OH, MI, IL).

Where else can he pick up a state? Colorado? Nevada? Can he hold on in New Mexico? Where's Bill Richardson?

Posted by: David R. Mark at October 14, 2004 10:10 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Where else can he [Kerry] pick up a state? Colorado? Nevada? Can he hold on in New Mexico?

I noticed in your post, David, you didn't mention Kerry as having a chance in FL. Did you simply forget about FL, or are you conceding that state to Bush? I actually believe Kerry has a better shot of winning FL than CO.

Posted by: pepe at October 14, 2004 10:36 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Michael Badnarik is playing a spoiler role for Bush in many of these states. He is polling 1-3% in many states, and higher in a few others, which will play a big part in making sure Bush is defeated. Democrats should seize upon this opportunity to steer republicans away from Bush.

Posted by: VoteBadnarik at October 14, 2004 10:48 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Agreed that it is a matter of costs vs. benefits. Arkansas is not the smartest place to put money right now. For instance, if Kerry-Edwards is going to put money into a state other than the magic FL-OH-PA trio, a better bet is Nevada. Even Missouri is a better choice.

The sentiments regarding Arkansas are noble, but the point is to *win*.

Posted by: Sam Wang at October 14, 2004 11:17 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Sam, I think Kerry would have a better chance at Arkansas than Missouri.

Posted by: Mark at October 14, 2004 11:31 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I really hate that the Democrats have pretty much given up on the state; in all the polls I've seen at my university (Arkansas State) and from what I've heard from friends at other universities (UCA and Hendrix) Bush and Kerry are pretty evenly tied and there are so many adults that my mother and father know (both Democrats) that are torn.

As said in other comments, the anti-gay sentiments that the Republicans stirred up will pretty much give our votes to Bush, more's the pity. I mean, there was just recently a Sanctity of Marriage rally at the Arkansas State University campus in the Convocation Center; over 4,000 people showed up, and most of them with Bush bumper stickers. They're serious, and although all the churches here have been lied to (they think gay marriage means they have to marry gay couples from what I've heard) they will be out in droves voting for Amendment 3 and Bush at the same time. All I can hope for is that some of them can't read and vote incorrectly. Or something. *is depressed*

There are other, more important places, sure. I just hate that we're brushed off as a Bush win (before the election even!) when one hour-long appearance by Kerry or Edwards could change so much, especially with younger or undecided voters.

Posted by: Renee at October 14, 2004 11:58 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I dunno, my sense is that Arkansas, like much of the South; is working class and very Bible Belt. And that unfortunately represents Bush's base right now.

The only things that keep Arkansas remotely in play for the Democrats is the high degree of poverty and Clinton's legacy. But Clinton's also a "double-edged sword" there, and I fear that because of the whole Lewinsky-Impeachment mess, Arkansas may well be on its way to becoming another Utah as far as Presidential voting goes.

Posted by: Rob at October 15, 2004 02:19 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Well I live in East TN (a longtime republican stronghold) and the amount of anti-Bush sentiment is surprising. The rest of the state is more strongly Democratic. I would still be surprised if Kerry wins here, but not shocked by any means. And Arkansas is more up for grabs by far than this state. You never know.

Posted by: oddofme at October 15, 2004 02:25 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I've said all along that Kerry had a good chance in Arkansas if he gave it enough attention. Mark's guess of 45% is about what I was thinking also, but, regrettably, I don't think that Kerry has given the effort needed to win thus far. I think he's only been to the state once since it was obvious that he'd win the nomination and that was back in May (Edwards has been here a few times, but not many.) And while Arkansas has received a fair amount of advertising, I get the feeling it hasn't received as much as other important swing states (A few MoveOn ads are all I'm seeing at this point.) It was only a month ago that we were told by Tad Devine that Kerry would resume advertising in Arkansas -- after pulling ads for awhile -- but it only lasted a short while before the ads were pulled again.

I began realizing this around a month ago, but I then had a vision that perhaps they were planning a last minute blitz of Arkansas, rather than going mano-o-mano with Bush in this conservative, southern state. I thought perhaps they would bring in the Big Dog, Wes Clark, and steal what Bush was hoping would be a sure thing. I'd like to think this might still happen, but then I'm reminded of how I'd also hoped for something similar back in 2000 and I now don't think it's going to happen this time either. A swing of a mere 5,000 votes might give Kerry a victory in the state this year (Bush won by 50,000 in 2000), but I'm skeptical that it's going to happen if the campaign has given up on Arkansas.

The skepticism for the large difference between the Zogby poll and other recent polls is understandable, but I'd like to remind people that most every poll in Arkansas was close up until the past 3 weeks: Thus, the Zogby poll is pretty much in line with what every poll has been showing for some time. In addition, since the SBVT ads began airing, there have been many differences in the national polls and this could just be an extension of that oddity(?) I do have more faith in Zogby than the rest and I'm still hoping that it's the most accurate here.

There's something quite interesting about this last Zogby poll that deserves mentioning here. Arkansas has four Congressional districts and these were split evenly between Gore and Bush in 2000. The two districts won by Gore (1 and 4) are both showing nice Bush leads in this poll and these are strong Democratic districts, although we're talking yellow dog Democrats here. In contrast, the second district, which covers Little Rock and Central Arkansas, is heavily favoring Kerry (58.1K/33.5B), even though it went to Bush by a slight margin in 2000 (District 3 is Bush's base and is showing a large Bush lead, as should be expected.) This likely has something to do with the small sample, as does the fact that the poll also shows Kerry leading with men and Bush with women (Zogby describes this as an anomaly.)

Another interesting figure is Bush's 10.8% lead among 18-29 year olds. This is Bush's largest lead in the age demographic and it still doesn't compare to Kerry's 20.1% lead among those 65 and older. But the 65 and older demographic is Kerry's only lead among the different age ranges and this is why Democrats need to spend more time in the future on Arkansas before this age range disappears altogether. I firmly believe that the path to regaining the region around Arkansas begins in Arkansas and that capturing it would be a knife in the heart of the GOP.

Arkansas, as a small state, takes great pride in it's citizens who succeed at the nation level (while this may not sound unusual, it's many times more magnified in Arkansas.) Former President Clinton will long be considered a hero here and, as a result, his leadership as a prominent Democrat is a great influence here. I don't know how long this will last, but Democrats should be capitalizing on it while it still does.

In response to why the Democrats are not spending more money in Arkansas, John Zogby said "It just kinda baffles me" and it baffles me as well. While I hope that Kerry does pull it out here, I'll also be a bit surprised if he does, at this point. But then again, I'm quite skeptical that Bush has as large a lead as some polls show as well, so who knows?

Posted by: rob at October 15, 2004 06:23 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

AR would be an ideal state for the Democrats to take seriously in this election. The Bush leads are small enough to make a Kerry pick up there possible. Furthermore, adverstising in AR must be a bargain in comparison with just about anywhere else in the nation. Kerry is not just conceding AR, but in doing so, he is also conceding the South. The Democrats have to start somewhere, and if there is more fertile ground in AR, why not take advantage in that in order to get a foot in the doorway to the South? AR could have been made into a symbol by the Democrats, offering visible proof that they are not going to simply hand over the South without a fight.

Posted by: pepe at October 15, 2004 07:06 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I want to add one more comment here. It's the cost vs. benefits argument why Kerry needs to advertise in AR. Besides the fact that it's inexpensive to advertise here and that there are many prominent Democrats to help, there is a very good chance that Kerry could end up six or less EVs short.

Two reasons why others seem to disregard the importance of AR are:

  1. Kerry can't win without taking 2 of the 3 big battleground states (FL, OH, PA). The truth is that Bush can't win without taking 2 of those 3 states, but there are several possible scenarios where Kerry can.
  2. AR is too deep-south conservative to go to Kerry. While it is conservative, the typical stereotype would indicate that it's much more so than the reality. AR will never be Utah and I think it's becoming more blue; not red.

Democrats don't seem to understand AR. This is the state that gave you Bill Clinton, Dale Bumpers, Wilbur Mills, and William Fulbright, who asked John Kerry to speak at the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in 1971. Can you name a Republican from AR? It has strong Democratic roots and they're still alive here (e.g. current AR Sen. Mark Pryor is the son of former AR Senator David Pryor.)

Thinking about Kerry's VVAW activism reminded me that two of Kerry's boatmates also live in AR and have spent considerable time speaking out in support of him.

Posted by: rob at October 15, 2004 07:10 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I've always thought some type of border strategy might be useful. Advertise along the border markets of MO and AR and just hope to get lucky.

There's a point of diminishing returns in some of the hottest states. The people there are getting slammed with so many commercials for so many candidates and so many issues, why not take some of those advertising bucks and take a chance on some second tier states.

I'm not sure about the zogby poll. In 2000 he blew a couple of his state polls big time (PA). I think he's counting on a higher % of Dem turn-out this year.

I too would be very interested in a URL where I can find some of the latest voter registration numbers.

And I sure wish a 527 would start playing Libertarian commercials in some of these swing states. A 1-2% pull from Bush could make all the difference. I'd sure contribute!

Posted by: pollwatcher at October 15, 2004 07:37 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I agree with you pollwatcher. I wonder about ads becoming redundant as well, but then I hate the idea of there being many more Bush than Kerry ads in big battleground states.

Advertising along the MO border was what I wanted earlier in the campaign, but now I think they need to hit south and east Arkansas. These are the Democrat strongholds and this poll shows Bush leading there. Kerry needs to get them to the polling booths and vote for him.

Posted by: rob at October 15, 2004 09:10 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

rob, I definitely agree with your thoughtful assessment of Arkansas, but I would take those Zogby internals with a grain of salt. Bush won District 2 last time by a small margin, so I have a really have a hard time believing Kerry's leading there by nearly 20 points this year. That would require Kerry victories in GOP strongholds like Saline and Faulkner Counties which Bush won by double digits. Gore narrowly won District 1, where my Democratic girlfriend was born and raised, and in District 4. Both hold tremendous potential for Kerry, particularly given the cheapness of advertising in markets like Jonesboro and Shreveport, LA, which reaches southern AR.

One neglected issue in this campaign that I think could really help Kerry in Missouri and Arkansas is the out-of-control meth epidemic. I'm generally for legalization of drugs as a means of better regulating their distribution, but meth fits into a category all its own since it's manufactured locally rather than shipped in from abroad. Meth is without question the biggest problem facing MO and AR. In my girlfriend's home county, one in five residents is a reported meth user, disproportionately affecting the 18-29 crowd. For political and social reasons, Kerry would be wise to orchestrate some sort of meth policy. I was hoping we'd hear something along those lines in the debates. If he did, I think it'd go a long way to help him in Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas which are being ruined by the drug.

Posted by: Mark at October 15, 2004 10:06 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I think Kerry has an uphill climb to win this election, let alone AR. The majority of people in this country do not have a positive feel for a northeastern liberal. Kerry significantly helped his chances with the three debates but most Republicans I know don't care how poorly Bush did or how well Kerry did in the debates, nothing will change their minds about their vote for Bush.

I think this Sinclair movie will be very damaging to Kerry and he will lose 2-4 more points because of it. I hope that I am wrong but I feel the majority of people want to find reasons not to like Kerry, and this could be another reason.

In order for Kerry to win the news continues to have to be negative (American deaths in Iraq, deficit, high oil prices, job loss etc.), Bush needs to make a gaffe or two, and Moore needs to air Farenheit 911 on TV. Kerry also has to run ads that shows him as strong but likable. I think Kerry could then squeak out a victory.

AND, the election has be valid - and I question whether some states are already rigged, such as Florida and Ohio.

I hope that I am wrong, but I am feeling a bit negative today. Perhaps it is the weather, but I just don't see the average American being very bright. Kerry still has a good chance but all, or some, of the forces mentioned above need to occur for a Kerry victory.

Kerry just has to win!

Posted by: Peter at October 15, 2004 10:17 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The upcoming Sinclair "documentary" will be no more damaging to Kerry than Fahrenheit 9/11 was to Bush. Both do little more than preach to their respective choirs and antagonize the other side.

Posted by: Pepe at October 15, 2004 10:21 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

the republicans have turned the mary cheney comment into a real negative for kerry.it`s turning into another swift boat like issue.in todays zogby, bush is up 4. you would swear they set up this whole thing.they know they can`t win on issues so distract,distract, distract the american people!

Posted by: JEREMY at October 15, 2004 10:34 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I'm sure Kerry regrets ever bringing up Cheney's daughter in the final debate, as that's all I heard on the news this morning.That comment is taking a life of its own, unfortunately. It seems to be taking a life of its own. I had real concerns that the gay issues would deeply influence this election. We live in a very homophobic nation, and this only confirms that fact.

Posted by: Pepe at October 15, 2004 10:51 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

It is sad to see Bush/Cheney exploit Mary like this. If it was such a big issue to them, they should have mentioned it after the VP debates.

A) Mary isn't a child. See is a 33 year old woman. It she thinks the comment is offensive, then she should speak for herself.

B) The Cheneys are the ones making this issue more public. If they think it is so offensive to talk about Mary in public, why don't they talk to Kerry privately about it?

C) Dick talked about his daughter being homosexual in the 2000 debates. Why didn't his wife issue a public statement then?

Posted by: DFuller at October 15, 2004 10:56 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Don't be disappointed if George Bush should win, I mean, LET HIM CLEAN UP HIS OWN MESS. HE DESERVES IT. Why should the Democrats try to clean up his mess. Can you imagine the tasks ahead. The mind boggles. I suppose it would suit McCain because he will probably sit at the side gloating the next four years and then MAYBE he might reach is goal to run for President. At one time we had so much resprect for Senator McCain, he was our HERO but since he did not have the courage or "GUTS" as my grandsone would say, to stand up when he was so maligned.And now he condones that which is so wrong. We have lost all respect. So my fellow Democrats, rejoice if he wins and watch the Repiblicans rue the day they voted for another four years,thank goodness, only four year, time flies.

Posted by: Crotchety Grannies at October 15, 2004 11:24 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

You're right on all of your points, DFuller. The irony is the Cheneys are of course the ones most exploiting their daughter for political gain. The Bush-Cheney people have found that they're striking a chord with the American people and they've taken the ball and are running with it. Meanwhile, the media is going overboard in the attention they've given to this growing story. That's why the Cheneys are now expressing "shock" and "dismay"--they are getting a lot of favorable attention and free advertising from the media while public opinion seems to be siding with the Cheneys.

Posted by: Pepe at October 15, 2004 11:26 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Should we really even trust the state polls? Rasmussen has just put out a poll in SD that has Bush up by 10 points. In 2000, Bush won in SD by 23 points. To my knowledge, Kerry hasn���t spent a cent or campaigned in SD. This tells me one of two things:

1) Their state poll is bogus or
2) Kerry is being helped in SD by Daschle���s fight for his political life and Bush���s total ineptness as occupier of the White House

Posted by: DFuller at October 15, 2004 11:40 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Dfuller, I agree completely with you. The Mary Cheney comment should be a non-issue. But the Republicans and Cheneys have made it into a major issue.

Now let me be blunt here. No one's going to like my statement, but this is the kind of comment that could cost Kerry the election. They've not been helped by the inept response by the Kerry team. Mary Cahill's utterly stupid comment about Mary Cheney being 'fair game' is even worse.

The issue is not the gay vote. That was going to go Kerry largely. The issue is not even the fundie Christain vote, that was going to go Bush largely. The issue is the undecided mom. She sees a distorted version of the story (not knowing that mary was already out, that she's an activist etc.). She seems Lynn Cheney not as an opportunistic witch, but as a mother defending her daugther. Whom do you think she's going to support ?

The Kerry camp should have issued an apology late Wed night after the Rethug and MSNBC started to spin it. SOmething like

"I was referring to Mary Cheney to put a human face on gays in families. If my comments offended the VP, his wife and daughter, I unreservedly apologize. As a father myself, I understand the desire to protect your own daugher".

Thats it. The story would have died by the end of the day yesterday.

Or seeing the story growing, he should have issued the statement on Thursday morning along with a firm statement that no one in his camp should comment on this topic at all after this. The topic would have tied out by this morning, if the Repugs tried to spin it beyond that, they would have looked as cynically political as they are.

Kerry's half-hearted statement, and Mrs Edwards comments just kept the news cycle going. Kerry can;t even apologize now, that just keeps the story going.

So, what Kerry should do now -- issue a firm shut up to everyone else int he campaign, say its time to 'move on'. Do not respond. The Cheneys can't keep continuing to attack him, the story will die out by tomorrow morning. If someone asks John Edwards or him directly, respond with a statement similar to the one above. Thats it. No more talk of this issue, no attempt at defense.

I know it grates on everyone present to not expose the Rthugs for the hypocritical scum they are are. But believe me, this is the kind of issue that could defeat Kerry if it grows. Even in the best case, this has probably cost him a lot of post-debate spin about a threepeat, some momentum etc. Remember what we wanted the talking points to be about yesterday
-- Bush lost all 3 debates
-- Bush lied in his comment about UBL
-- Bush scared to face AARP
-- More problems in Iraq (sadly)
-- Trade deficit.

We lost all that.

Posted by: erg at October 15, 2004 11:42 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

erg, I completely agree. Kerry is likely to lose this election based on the Mary Cheney flap and despite the horrendous performance by Bush in the debates, we can expect to see him open up a sizeable poll lead in the coming days. Couple that with the new "my opponent is more liberal than Ted Kennedy" attack line by Bush, which I suspect will be monstrously effective, and the new Swift Boats TV spots. If these do run, they WILL hurt Kerry badly. Kerry has gotten himself into serious trouble here. He may have been able to overcome the "liberal" attacks and the Swift Boat spots had it not been for the collosally stupid Mary Cheney remark.

Kerry should know that Bush and Cheney can spout any lie they want and not be held accountable for them. On the other hand, there is absolutely zero room for error on his part. He created an opening to distract the moronic American public....and the GOP predictably ran with it. Yesterday, I thought this might die down, but it apparently has not. Kerry probably ended his quest for the Presidency on the very night many believed he may have sealed the deal.

Posted by: Mark at October 15, 2004 11:52 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Don't raise the white flag and push the panic button yet.

1) Polls fluctuate. That is why there is a MOE.

2) Of the 6% undecided voters in the Zogby poll. Only around 25% of them thought Kerry deserved reelection. That means you can allocate 4.5% to Kerry and 1.5% to Bush. That makes the true numbers 49.5% Bush and 48.5% Kerry.

3) Only one third of the Zogby poll was taken after the debate. We will get a better picture of the numbers in two days.

4) Yes, the media is very much in control of this election. Unfortunately they always are. They focused on the Mary statement over Bush���s lies about bin Laden.

Posted by: DFuller at October 15, 2004 12:03 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Mark -- I'm not really that concerned about the new SBVT ads. I think the group has shot its credibility with some of the earlier ads. The usual suspects will cover them, but others won't. Nightline did a devastating report on the Kerry silver star incident, basically showing John O'Neill to be a liar last night. [ And why is that getting no coverage today ?]

I'm not that terribly concerned about the "liberal" attack either. Bush has used it a lot before, so its unlikely to open any new wounds.

But I agree the Mary Cheney story could be devastating. Really bad response by the Kerry team -- they could have nipped this in the bud. I think they lost the post-debate spin miserably. Snap polls gave the debate to Kerry -- if it were not for the media spin, few people would have focused on this comment at all.

It would be ironic and sickening if Kerry were to lose the election because of a compassionate statement about a gay woman, and lose to a party that has homephobes in it, and has on its ticket a man who is amused by the thought of executing death row inmates.

Kerry has no more debates to fix this gaffe. His margin for error is very slim. I hope this story will fade away (outside of wingnut outlets by the end of the day today and some of the swing voters will focus on real issues important to their lives.

Posted by: erg at October 15, 2004 12:07 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Only one third of the Zogby poll was taken after the debate. We will get a better picture of the numbers in two days.

That is what bothers me more than anything else. We saw a 3 point leap in Bush's numbers with just one post-debate poll (1/3rd of total)? Hopefully, the Mary Cheney story will die out soon, and this is just random fluctuation. But this is a serious problem when we don't need any more.

I remember 2000 -- 1st debate when Bush smirked and seemed inordinately delighted at the thought of executing some condemned prisoners in Texas. The prisoners were the truly revolting scumbags who killed a black man in Jasper. But smirking at their impendng execution convinced me that Bush was not 'a good man'. Lucky for him, the media did not play this up, and in the 2nd debate Bush actually answered an audience member who asked him anout it. But Kerry does not have any more debates.

I will repeat -- I'm furious at Kerry's staff for not defusing the issue quickly with an apology yesterday morning. The fact that they didn't recognize how devastating an issue this could be shows true ineptness. The American public will willingly elect a man who lied us into a war that cost us 1100 American lives, but not someone who can be spun by Rethungs into having attacked an american family

Posted by: erg at October 15, 2004 12:15 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Quick addition to my comment -- I didn't mean to say that the game was over. I think Kerry still has a good chance of winning. However, without that one comment and poor post-debate spin, I believe he would be ahead and have a great deal of momentum going into the final weeks.

Posted by: erg at October 15, 2004 12:27 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

dfuller, I don't think the Rasmussen Poll is that out of line in South Dakota. I think Bush will win South Dakota by more than 10 points, but not much more. The rural Midwest was unprecedentedly devastating for Al Gore in 2000, probably mostly due to the common perception that Gore was a wild-eyed environmental extremist who was make life difficult for farmers. The populist region of South Dakota, the eastern third of the state which has brought us George McGovern and Tom Daschle and thinks more like western Minnesota, will not go nearly as strong for Bush as they did last time. Furthermore, there were no contested state races in South Dakota in 2000, suppressing Democratic turnout, particularly on Indian reservations where turnout more than doubled two years later for the Johnson-Thune Senate race. This year there are two close races in SD....Daschle-Thune and Herseth-Diedrich. Even a few thousand more Indians voting this time will shrink Bush's margins considerably from 2000 in a state as small as South Dakota, but still unlikely to shrink it to 10 points. I've always predicted about 12-13 for Bush in SD. That and North Dakota are likely to be the states where Bush's support erodes the most.

However, the further-left-than-likely sample of the Presidential race in South Dakota by the Rasmussen Poll is troubling given that Daschle still can't pull out a lead in the same sample. It's starting to look bad for Daschle, particularly if the undecideds break for the challenger as they usually do. I'm afraid it'll take a Thune gaffe or a bonanza of reservation votes surpassing that of two years ago to save Daschle's ass.

Posted by: Mark at October 15, 2004 12:44 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

As for Mary Cheney-gate, it's fast becoming the 2004 equivalent to the Paul Wellstone Memorial. I hadn't heard Mary Beth Cahill's comments about Mary Cheney's sexual orientation as being "fair game", which strikes me, along with Elizabeth Edwards' accusation that the Cheney's are ashamed of their daughter, as the catalysts that will propel this into a weeklong Kerry-bashing festival. The "liberal" tag and the latest Swift Boat fantasies probably wouldn't have had much traction without the Mary Cheney comments, but they will escalate a Jimmy Carter-esque reverse momentum ensuring a solid victory for Bush. If this story doesn't go away before the weekend, and there's no indication it will, I believe Kerry will lose big.

I saw the Nightline story last night. Nobody's interested. There's simply more drama to be found with the Cheney's outrage, which will undoubtedly intensify after the Elizabeth Edwards and Mary Beth Cahill comments. Meanwhile, Bush could go on TV today and insist we are not fighting a war in Iraq or Afghanistan and lose virtually no support in the polls. The American people simply WILL NOT hold Bush accountable for anything. Perhaps we were doomed from the start with this race given that the voting public accepts and even demands repeated failure from this President. That's a pretty big hurdle for a challenger to overcome.

Posted by: Mark at October 15, 2004 01:15 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Please quell the panic I sense in some comments. Sure the Cheney thing has distracted the press and has probably robbed Kerry of the bounce he may have gotten from the debate. But check out this article:

The gist is that things still look bad for Bush. Barring some terrible stumble or scandal for Kerry the only hope the Bushies have is to suppress turn out. If turn out is high Kerry will win. Demoralizing Kerry voters and roadblocks to voting are the only choices they have to win.

Posted by: oddofme at October 15, 2004 01:17 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

In an interview with Charles Cook ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A15752-2004Oct7.html ), he indicates that some polls are done with push button phone responses, rather than actual interviews. He mentioned Rasmussen and Survey USA as polling companies that do this.

It does seem clear that actual interviews are better (as Cook notes, you at least have an idea if you have a 9 year old on the line ...), though obviously more expensive.

Anyway, that for me was new information: I hadn't known or thought about that Rasmussen and Survey USA don't do actual interviews in their polls. Anyone know about any of the others?

Posted by: Marsden at October 15, 2004 01:20 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Mark -- The Mary Beth Cahill and EE statements were made late Wednesday night, and early yesterday so they aren't new. Without new information, it is my hope this story dies soon. Stories need new info to keep running, and there is no new info here. As long as the story doesn't last into the Sunday Talk Shows, I think we're fine.

KErry is on Paula Zahn tonight. If asked, he needs to apologize for this in the way I mentioned. That is the way to kill the story.

Posted by: erg at October 15, 2004 01:22 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The latest rasmussen poll has Thune-Daschle 49-49, up from a 49-46 for Thune before. So I hope Daschle will pull out a victory. I was in Sioux City, IA during the caucuses and met a lot of Native American Kerry supporters -- they seemed to have a good GOTV strategy there.

I think the questions about Arkansas and South Dakota, and Ohio, point to the Dems' need to strengthen their image and deliver more for some of the "purple" states. Its not jsut the presidency -- we need Senatorial victories to continue in places like South Dakota, as well as Arkansas and Lousiana, which have bucked the trend of partisan realignment in the South at the Senatorial level, in order to get a majority. This means a little more accomodation on social issues without giving up the fight; and delivering more to rural economies and those challenged by globalization. I think Kerry has done this well by supporting gay union, but leaving marriage to the states. Hopefully, these parts of the country will eventually catch up educationally and socially; we could actually further that if we had a Democratic majority suporting policies to help the poorer southern regions -- the meth epidemic is truly disturbing. Ohio, in the rust belt, struggles to attract college-educated young people, and is losing population -- an economic and cultural rebound in Ohio could easily tip the balance to the Dems.

Posted by: Marc Cittone at October 15, 2004 01:28 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Would you all relax! Most Americans think homosexuality is a sin and/or disgusting, and most of them are Republicans and will vote for Bush anyway. People don't care about Kerry's comment, because it was about gay people. I think a sizeable part of the population who are following this story think it is a non-issue as well. No one at work or anyone I know is talking about it. I doubt it will affect Kerry at all, or maybe even help him.

The Swift Boat crap hurt Kerry big time and this Sinclair movie could sink Kerry. That is what we have to be worried about!

Posted by: Peter at October 15, 2004 01:28 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I have to agree with Peter. The only people who seem to care about it that I can see are those on talk radio and those of us on the internet nervously watching the polls day to day (myself included). The thing the Bushies want most is a sense of despair among Kerry voters. This is not going to sink Kerry's chances, but demoralization of Kerry voters and lower turnout could.

Posted by: oddofme at October 15, 2004 01:40 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The most democratic part of Missouri, after the two major cities, is the boot heel (the southeast corner). Because of the endemic poverty and high minority population, essentially. It reminds me of something I read in an article about W.Va. in the Economist -- that it's socially conservative and economically liberal (whereas much of the country is the reverse). So the "raise taxes on the top 2%" may play well there and in parts of AR (not AK, that's Alaska). I imagine Eastern Tennessee shares a lot in common with that kind of thought.

Posted by: PAVoter at October 15, 2004 01:43 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I just noticed something very important!

I was at race2004.com looking at the polling data from Florida. If you look, there are two Insider Advantage polls in Florida, one from 10/12 showing Bush/Kerry at 47/44, then one from 10/14 showing them at 44/48! Unless this is a misprint, the margin has shifted in Florida dramatically in two days, possibly as a result of the debate. While polls don't seem to show much one compared to the other, I'm inclined to believe that dramatic shifts in polls made by the SAME company over time indicate real changes on the ground.

The only other poll to emerge recently is a GOP poll, which naturally shows Bush winning -- because that's what they're supposed to show. I'd also point out that even GOP polls are showing Kerry winning MN and MI. If even the GOP shows Kerry winning in those states, then he must really be up.

Posted by: PAVoter at October 15, 2004 01:58 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Kerry has to fight hard in Ohio and keep up the pressure there. As for the Cheney daughter remark, it's brilliant strategy because it points to the hypocrisy of the "conservative" Republicans who aren't conservative at all. Look at how Bush and Cheney squandered the trillion dollar surplus and drove up the deficit to the largest amounts in history, putting our nation near bankruptcy.

If you were a conservative values Republican from the south, knowing that the Cheneys have an openly gay daughter with a gay partner, knowing that Bush has driven the deficit up to historical proportions nearing bankruptcy, knowing that Bush wanted to give residency and American jobs to thousands of illegals crossing our borders, knowing that Bush and Cheney want to conquer the middle east in corporate wars for gas and oil, are you going to vote for Bush and Cheney?

Posted by: Shar at October 15, 2004 02:19 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Well that comment isn't proving to be brilliant strategy in the short run at all, and I heard on the news that Kerry has already apologized for it and I would guess will again in his interview tonight (it is ridiculous that he has to). But maybe in the longer run it will have a net positive, and in any case I don't think it will hurt him by Nov. 3rd. In any case if anyone starts feeling freaked out when the polls go for Bush realize they may well go back and forth over the next 3 weeks. What matters is the election itself and turnout.

Posted by: oddofme at October 15, 2004 02:31 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Oh and to respond to you PAVoter, I do think these areas have a lot in common. I am surprised at the number of republicans I have talked to who are considering possibly voting for Kerry, or not voting/voting Libertarian, rather than Bush for the reasons you mentioned.

Posted by: oddofme at October 15, 2004 02:35 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

What does Kerry have to apologize for, re: Mary Cheney? Should he have to apologize if he might have remarked in the past that Colin Powell is black?

Really, Lynne and Dick Cheney had an opportunity to humanize themselves in the eyes of the public, but instead they made pretty clear that there's not much human left of them.

Kerry should just say that he's sorry the Cheneys were upset at what he thought was a respectful comment, but that in any case he will not bring up the matter again.

Posted by: Marsden at October 15, 2004 03:18 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Kerry should just say that he's sorry the Cheneys were upset at what he thought was a respectful comment, but that in any case he will not bring up the matter again.

Absolutely. ALl he had to do was to say that yesterday morning to stop this stupid story. As it is, it dragged on one day more.

Posted by: Charles at October 15, 2004 03:19 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I am the Local Union President at a Federal Prison in Arkansas. We saw
what could be done in 2002 in the senate race when we were the only
state to unseat an incumbent republician senator. It is clear that if
nothing is done, Bush will probably win Arkansas by a couple of points.
Bush will NOT take Arkansas if there is a push by Marion Berry, Blanch
Lincoln, Mark Pryor and Bill Clinton. People in Arkansas love Bill
Clinton. Berry, Lincoln and Pryor are all very highly thought of. One
swing through the state with Bill Clinton leading the way equals a Kerry
victory in Arkansas. Look what it did for Mark Pryor. Al Gore made
the mistake in 2000, will John Kerry in 2004?

Posted by: Roger Payne at October 15, 2004 07:55 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Mark - You're right about district 2 and I do take it with a grain of salt. But while I'm skeptical that Kerry has a 20.1% lead, I'd bet that he does, in fact, have a lead. As you know, this is the area of the state that's less morally conservative and since more outsiders have moved into the suburbs of Faulkner and Saline counties, I expect them to be less conservative than they were in 2000.

I'm also a bit skeptical of Bush's lead in the two most Democratic districts in Arkansas. Since these are morally conservative districts, it may be true; but as you note, these are districts where Kerry has the potential to make up some ground. Also, when you consider that the margin in this poll reflects similarly to the margins in all of the Zogby polls in Arkansas, then you have to surmise that either Zogby is consistently getting some or all of districts 1, 2, and 4 wrong or that they're consistently getting them all right. My point is that there is a history of similar results.

You bring up an interesting point with the meth issue. I have to admit that I'm not very familiar with meth or the meth issue, although I did have a Professor who was busted for making it, but that's another story... ;-) I didn't realize it was as large of a problem as it is until recently. However, I did notice something on johnkerry.com last night addressing it in Arkansas, so I know it has been touched on by Kerry.

Posted by: rob at October 15, 2004 08:38 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Kerry can take Arkansas easily. If he would just take the time and go down their once. Also, if Clinton can go down he can rally the troops! It should be noted that if you campaign in Arkansas you can also campaign in Miss and Iowa at the same time.

Posted by: HE at October 16, 2004 10:28 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I can't agree that Kerry could easily take Arkansas. I've never claimed that Arkansas would be an easy pickup, but just that it's a very real possibility if Kerry would campaign here. He would also be helped by shifting dynamics that I won't go into here.

The thinking among Democrats seems to always be that Arkansas is a real longshot, but the reason it's a longshot is because Democratic Presidential candidates won't show their face in the state. I think it goes without saying that Arkansas will mostly vote for Republican candidates if Republicans are the only ones campaigning for the Arkansas vote.

Posted by: rob at October 18, 2004 09:37 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

As a follow-up on that last comment, I also want to add this tidbit. Bush/Cheney haven't been hitting Arkansas nearly as hard as they did in 2000, even though they have spent more time here than Kerry/Edwards. It's been a bit surprising to me how little attention Arkansas has received from both campaigns, but especially from the Bush/Cheney campaign. And because the Republican candidate isn't far out-campaigning the Democrat candidate in Arkansas this year, as they usually do, this helps Kerry.

Posted by: rob at October 18, 2004 09:44 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

rob, I completely agree. I've said for the last two months that Kerry's biggest mistake in this campaign has been to abandon Arkansas. Given that the entire Upper Midwest (worth 27 electoral votes collectively..the same as Florida) looks extremely shaky for Kerry, we could easily find ourselves in deep regret for narrowing the battleground so early and dismissing states like Arkansas as unworthy of our time. As Kerry spends endless days of his campaign fighting to hold Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin only to fall further and further behind in the polls, it's becoming apparent that the strategy of doing just barely well enough to get to 270 electoral votes isn't working any better for Kerry than it did for Gore. Kerry may get lucky and win 270 EV's even though he gave Arkansas the finger for the past six weeks, but only if there's a Hail Mary late surge of voter support that cannot be counted on. THe Democratic Party cannot be in the business of forfeiting states...even though it appears we have done just that with Arkansas...again.

Posted by: Mark at October 18, 2004 10:44 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I agree with you Mark. And I'm increasingly seeing electoral maps with Kerry 6 EVs short. I could understand the strategy of dismissing Arkansas until the end and then blitzing it with attention, but I don't see any evidence of that happening.

Posted by: rob at October 20, 2004 04:43 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment