Not All News is Bad News

A number of people I’ve talked to lately are fairly pessimistic about Kerry’s chances, which is probably due to the recent swath of polls showing Bush with either an implausibly large lead (12+ points) or a modest but consistent lead (3-5 points). So I thought I’d share some of the good news that’s out there.

  • Digby reminds us that creating an “aura of invincibility” is an old tactic that Karl Rove uses because Rove believes that swing voters want to vote for the eventual winner. Witness Bush’s trip to California just before election 2000, which was in fact a very close election. For more on this point, see this Slate story by Chris Sullentrop (“The worse things get for Bush, the more likely his aides are to declare that he is invincible. The Bushies are starting to sound like Baghdad Bob, trumpeting a decisive victory for Saddam Hussein as the American military zooms into Iraq’s capital city.”)
  • This MoveOn ad, along with about 3 out of every 4 posts over at Ruy T.’s blog, points out that there are some glaring problems with the Gallup poll numbers. In particular, Gallup’s samples are drawing on far more self-declared Republicans than there are in the population — unless the number of Republicans has increased by about 8 percentage points since the Republican convention. Ruy’s even made up a fun Gallup game you can play at home. Ok, it may only be fun if you’re a politics and numbers junkee.
  • That bastion of left-wing bias, The Wall Street Journal, based on 9/20/04 results from Zogby, reports that (scroll down to and click on “Battlegrounds” — subscription required)

    Sen. John Kerry’s state tally shrank but his overall position appears to have stabilized among likely voters in many of the 16 battleground states…

    Mr. Kery now leads in 11 states — down from 12 states he held two weeks ago and 14 a month ago — and his leads over President Bush in Florida and Arkansas are less than one percentage point. At the same time, he maintained or added to comfortable advantages in Michigan, Oregon and New Mexico…

    … Presuming that all the [battleground] states — including the 33 electroal votes from the tight Florida and Arkansas races — go to the current leading candidates and that the other 34 states and the District of Columbia go as they did in the 2000 election, Mr. Kerry would get 297 electoral votes and Mr. Bush would get 241.

  • Finally, constituting perhaps the best news of all, the AP is reporting that voter registration is surging:

    New voters are flooding local election offices with paperwork, registering in significantly higher numbers than four years ago as attention to the presidential election runs high and an array of activist groups recruit would-be voters who could prove critical come Nov. 2.

    Cleveland has seen nearly twice as many new voters register so far as compared with 2000; Philadelphia is having its biggest boom in new voters in 20 years; and counties are bringing in temporary workers and employees from other agencies to help process all the new registration forms.

    Nationwide figures aren’t yet available, but anecdotal evidence shows an upswing in many places, often urban but some rural. Some wonder whether the new voters — some of whom sign up at the insistence of workers paid by get-out-the-vote organizations — will actually make it to the polls on Election Day, but few dispute the registration boom.

    …New registered voters in Miami-Dade County, a crucial Florida county in 2000, grew by 65 percent through mid-September, compared with 2000.

    New registered voters jumped nearly 150 percent in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) in Ohio, one of the most hard-fought states this year.

    While I suppose it’s possible that this surge is split between Karl Rove’s 4 million non-voting evangelicals and more Democratic-leaning new registrants, that seems unlikely. Based on the AP story, the surge is widespread, but more pronounced in urban areas than rural. Moreover, I wonder how many of Rove’s hypothetical non-voting evangelicals live in battleground states? In short, I’m siding with the conventional wisdom that higher turnout will favor the Democrat (and assuming that a good portion of these new registrants, half or so, will actually vote.)

So do I think Kerry has this election in the bag? Not by a long shot. But Kerry supporters would be better served if they spent a lot less time and energy on wailing and gnashing of teeth, and instead devoted time, energy, and money to supporting John Kerry.