The reaction to polls around these parts sometimes verges on the absurd. Given that we are over six months away from election day, all polls give us are an imperfect snapshot of how things currently stand.
Yesterday we got these two new polls:
Gallup Poll. 4/16-18. MoE 4%. (4/5-8 results)
Bush 51 (48)
Kerry 46 (45)
Nader 2 (4)
Neither 2 (4)
ABC/WP Poll. 4/15-18. (3/4-7 results)
Bush 48 (44)
Kerry 43 (48)
So yeah, on first blush, these aren't good results. But the same people who thought Kerry had it in the bag when he was up in the polls now think the sky is falling. Chicken Little is alive and well around these parts.
Look, first of all, it's early. And not only is it early, but our national and international situation is extremely volatile. A better gauge of that national mood is the Rasmussen presidential tracking poll, which shows the volatility of the situation in stark contrast.
But even with all that volatility, the numbers are still fairly consistent. In the last month, Rasmussen has had Bush between 48 and 42. And he has had Kerry between 48 and 43. That is not a wide spread, and shows that much of the float at this point is not necessarily shifts in popular opinion, but statistical float and the movement of very soft, very unfocused voters. (It's early, remember?)
In addition, Bush has been under 50 percent in the vast majority of polls. The Gallup Poll has Bush over 50, but also has no undecideds. They pushed the leaners strong. And while that type of polling make sense the week before the election, it's less salient a full six months plus before voters hit the booths.
Finally, remember that Bush has spent a full 50 percent of his advertising pummeling Kerry. That is $40 million of virtually uncontested ads. Sure, we've had 527 ads up, but none of those have talked about Kerry the candidate. They're not allowed to do that. So we've had a barrage of Bush ads pummeling Kerry with nary a response defending him.
Did I mention it's early? Kerry has been using this time to raise money, and has done a great job of it. The time will come to counterattack, and his numbers will improve. Bush's best shot was to take Kerry out early by driving his negatives through the roof. Well, Kerry's negatives have taken a hit, but nowhere near what Bush needed for the knockout blow. Kerry took $40 million in Bush attack ads and came out of it surprisingly strong. And our guy will have his own $40-80 million to counterattack.
So the sky is not falling. Sure, lots of us would rather see Kerry in the leads, but the only poll that really matters is November. And if Kerry has shown one thing in his many years in politics, it's that he knows how to close. So long as Bush is consistently under 50 percent (the incumbent's danger zone) there's no reason to panic.
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