KERRY UP, DOWN 


Editor's note: This is the second in a weekly series of poll updates on the Nov. 2 presidential election. Daily updates can be found at http://frogblog.journalspace.com.

As of Oct. 4, John Kerry had bounced back in most national popular-vote polls, but his standing in the electoral vote tally had slid to a deficit of 70. This decline may not last, however, as it was based primarily on pre-debate nonpartisan state polls. With Kerry recently surrendering his lead in former Bush state New Hampshire, with the president still leading in former Gore states Wisconsin and Iowa, with Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes) considered a tie and with all other states looking to vote as in 2000, the former governor leads the taller and more honest* Massachusetts senator by 296 electoral votes to 226.

The post-debate popular polls show dramatic improvement for Kerry (from previous polls) but diverge in their assessment of who is now leading. CBS and CNN find a tie, Newsweek has Kerry up by 3 percent, the Los Angeles Times puts Kerry up by 2 percent, Zogby sees Bush ahead by 1 percent, ABC and Pew read Bush by 5 percent and Rasmussen has Bush up 2.5 percent.

Florida continues to bounce around: from Kerry by 1 percent (ARG, Sept. 22) to Bush by 9 percent (in a questionable Sept. 29 Gallup survey) to Bush by 4 percent (in the most recent poll, Rasmussen, Oct. 4).

In the past week, Bush gained ground in 18 states and faded in a dozen others. Most significant was Bush's 5.8 percent improvement as he retook New Hampshire, and his 2.8 percent gain in Pennsylvania, which became a numerical tie. Bush also diminished Kerry's leads in Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan and Minnesota; as a result, Kerry's leads in Maine and the latter three (41 total votes) are now within a 4 percent margin of polling error. Bush also boosted his leads in Arkansas, North Carolina, Arizona and Florida.

Kerry diminished Bush's leads in Tennessee (by 8 percent), Wisconsin (4 percent), West Virginia (3.2 percent) and Colorado (3 percent) while improving his own margins in New Jersey (by 2.5 percent), Maine (2 percent) and Washington (1.8 percent). Six Bush states (with 78 electoral votes) are now within the 4 percent margin of error.

This week, Democratic prospects for retaking the Senate brightened considerably. The donkey party is sure to take Illinois (where Barack Obama leads the ludicrous Alan Keyes by 51 percent) and has the current polling edge in elephant states Oklahoma, Alaska and Colorado. Although vulnerable in Democratic states South Carolina (plus 3 percent), Louisiana (3 percent, but probably requiring a runoff), South Dakota (plus 2 percent) and North Carolina (plus 1 percent), Dems are doomed to lose Zell Miller's seat in Georgia (minus 16 percent). All the remaining incumbents in both parties look very safe.

*One can impugn Bush's honesty because his debate performance was replete with factual misstatements. One of the grossest whoppers was his ludicrous claim that thanks to American military power, "the Taliban no longer exists." Anyone who reads newspapers – a population that excludes Bush – knows that the Taliban control most of Southern Afghanistan and kill scores of people – Afghans and Americans – every week.

More by Alan Waldman

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