The Polls Come Back to Earth

t r u t h o u t | Staff Report

Tuesday 07 September 2004

It has been a wild week for numbers. Immediately after the Republican Convention, Time and Newsweek released poll numbers indicating a significant bounce for George W. Bush, and an 11 point lead over John Kerry. A few days go by, however, and the air appears to have been let out of the tires.

The new Rasmussen poll has the two Presidential candidates tied 47.3% to 47.3%. This leads to an inescapable conclusion: If all these numbers are correct – Time, Newsweek and Rasmussen – then Mr. Bush has suffered an historic cratering in his poll numbers within 100 hours of the close of his party’s convention.

But perhaps the ballyhooed post-convention lead enjoyed by Bush never existed at all. Pollster John Zogby says, “I have Mr. Bush leading by 2 points in the simple head-to-head match up – 46% to 44%. Add in the other minor candidates and it becomes a 3 point advantage for the President – 46% to 43%…it simply is not an 11 point race. It just isn’t.”

It should be noted that Rasmussen provided the core data for both the TIME and Newsweek polls. Their independent interpretation of the very same data produced dramatically different conclusions than those reached by TIME and Newsweek.

The ‘Bush bounce’ after the convention has either disappeared completely, or never existed at all. Neither bodes well for the incumbent. Gallup, which has on many occasions appeared to be working as a PR arm of the Bush election campaign, paints an interesting political perspective: “Bush’s two-point convention bounce is one of the smallest registered in Gallup polling history, along with Hubert Humphrey’s two-point bounce following the 1968 Democratic convention, George McGovern’s zero-point bounce following the 1972 Democratic convention, and Kerry’s “negative bounce” of one point among registered voters earlier this year. Bush’s bounce is the smallest an incumbent president has received.”

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