Polls Still Show A Close Race
Polls in the battle ground states show similar results. With more polls out than there are states today, supporters of either candidate can find evidence of a lead in key states. Kerry does appear to be regaining the lead in the midwest. Over the last few days Iowa looked like Bush's best chance of picking up a Gore state, but the Des Moines Register shows Kerry now leading. The polls in traditional Democratic states which showed Bush with a lead recently remind me of the final polls in Wisconsin before the 2000 election which incorrectly predicted a Bush victory.
With the polls generally being within the margin of error, and with many contradictory polls out, anything can still happen. Polling so far suggests that the bin Laden tape is having little impact, but it is too early to be certain. This still could help Bush if people rally behind the President out of fear (and a false perception that he is fighting terrorism effectively). It may also help Bush simply by drawing attention away from the issues which have been helping Kerry move up in the polls over the last week. On the other hand, this could hurt Bush by reminding people of three things:
- Osama bin Laden is still free, despite George Bush's earlier statements that he will catch him dead or alive
- Osama's admission that he was behind the 9/11 attacks reminds people that he, not Saddam, is our more serous threat
- Bringing up Bush's failure to respond to the attacks while reading My Pet Goat could may bring more attention to Bush's failings as Commander in Chief, as well as to the questions of Bush's mental instability raised by doctors and psychologists who have observed him at public appearances and the debates
The large number of newly registered voters could prove the polls wrong, as people who did not vote in 2000 are often ignored as not being likely voters. We will not know the effects of the new voters until election day, but polls of early voters do show a significant lead for Kerry. Rove's attempts to counter the effects of new voters includes a number of methods to suppress the vote, including intimidating minorities from turning out to vote.
We also cannot be certain of the accuracy of telephone polls. The Washington Post recently reported that a tremendous number of people are refusing to answer, and question if those who do answer are representative of the entire voting population. Zogby believes that pollsters are missing many young voters who only use cell phones. Zogby conducted a text message poll of young voters showing a lead of 55% to 41% among young voters. It remains unclear how large a population of cell phone only users there are, and how many really will turn out to vote. As with other groups, the results may come down to how successful Get Out The Vote efforts are, wtih Demorats traditionally having the advantage here.