July 27, 2004

State of the race

Martin Kettle in the Guardian thinks that the consistency of Kerry's small leads is an indicator that Kerry could win relatively comfortably in November.

Yet the reality is that the polling numbers in the Bush-Kerry contest have been saying something strikingly consistent ever since Kerry emerged as the Democratic contender in March.

That something is that Bush is losing and Kerry is winning. Every national poll this month has had Kerry ahead. Yes, his leads are often narrow and they are frequently within the 3% margin of polling error, but they all show Kerry leading Bush. All the polls show Kerry is between 47%-49%, with Bush around 44%-46%. That's neither commanding nor impregnable for Kerry, but it is very consistent and very bad for Bush.

The other important point is that many of Kerry's strongest gains are in the all-important battleground states. Again, the leads are often within the margin of error, and not every poll says the same thing in every state - notably Florida - but the overall picture is consistent. In a mid-July battleground states poll by Zogby International, Kerry led in every state Gore won in 2000; but he also led, or was within the margin of error, in every battleground state won by Bush. On that basis, Kerry had a 322-216 vote advantage in the electoral college.

This will change many times before November, but it is all taking place within a context. That context, again as expressed in the polls, is that a small but clear majority of Americans consistently say that their country is heading in the wrong direction or that it is time for a change. Last week's Los Angeles Times poll had this figure at 54%, which is fairly typical.

If Kerry can tap deeper into the undecideds among these voters when he addresses the Democratic convention here on Thursday, then he should win in November. It all comes down, many analysts believe, to whether socially conservative, lower middle-class voters in the swing states feel reassured by Kerry. "This election will be decided by Cincinnati housewives," is how Boston College sociologist Professor Alan Wolfe puts it.

And over at the Iowa Electronic Markets, the winner takes all market has Kerry ahead, while the vote share market has them pretty much tied.

Kerry is also the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination.

Posted by robe0419 at July 27, 2004 11:44 AM