Saturday, August 28, 2004

Is Kerry in trouble?: There is a lot of new polling out and Kerry is clearly losing position in tight races even though the race for the presidency is still a toss up. I don't know if the extensive coverage in the media of the claims by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is the reason for his slippage. But what is very clear is that Ralph Nader has nothing to do with the Kerry slide. If Kerry still continues to slide, however, watch how fast the Democrats pummel Nader even more than they already are. At the same time, support for Libertarian Michael Badnarik and Green Party candidate David Cobb, seems to be building. This is acknowledged in at least one poll. Here is the latest information:

Arkansas: This presumed safe Bush state is now a toss up with little wiggle room for either candidate. The latest poll, posted by Survey USA on Aug. 23, shows a slight Bush lead with 48 percent, Kerry at 47, Other with 3, and Undecided at 2 percent. Interestingly, Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln has a 24 percent lead over her Republican opponent. Survey USA did not state who the "Other" candidates were, but Nader, Badnarik, and Cobb are on the ballot. The "Other" voters identified themselves as "probable" voters, aged 18 to 49, white and Asian, mostly registered independent describing themselves as liberal, yet also both pro-life and pro-choice. Two percent of Democrats and 1 percent of Republicans are voting for "Other." Five percent of Democrats are undecided. Nine percent of Democrats and 8 percent of "liberals" are planning on voting for Bush.

Florida: Not unlike 2000, two of the latest polls show the state extremely close. Rasmussen Reports has a poll out from Wednesday showing Bush with 49, Kerry with 47, Nader at 2, Badnarik at 1, Cobb with 1 percent, and 1 percent "Not Sure." Again, like Arkansas, there is no room for growth for the two major candidates. The state is a toss up. It is interesting that Rasmussen - which previously stated that Nader would not be a factor in 2004, hence they were not including him in polls - is now including most minor candidates in polling. Frankly, all of the polling agencies should take the extra sentence or two to acknowledge the three other minor candidates on a regular basis, especially if identified by voters. Rasmussen did not ask people how they would vote in a two-way race and did not post specifics on its Web site, preferring to charge people for access to its data. So, the Nader impact is unknown.
In another poll, posted Tuesday, USA Today/CNN/Gallup had Bush at 48, Kerry with 46, Nader at 2, and "Neither/other/no opinion" at 4 percent. Without Nader, the results would be Bush 48, Kerry 47, and 5 percent saying neither, other, or no opinion. No other relevant data was shown in the poll.
Since June there have been 19 polls in the state, Kerry has led in 11 with two being a tie between the two.

Maine: Strangely, Maine, a traditional safe-blue state, could be in play this year. A Survey USA poll, has Kerry with a 5 point lead: Kerry 49, Bush 44, Other 5, and Undecided at 2 percent. The pollster noted that since Maine is not a "winner-take-all" Electoral College vote state, Bush could potentially win 1 EC vote if his numbers are good in the north country, the most conservative part of the state. Currently, Bush and Kerry are tied in that region. While the "Other" candidates were not identified, the voters described themselves as "probable" voters, aged 18 to 49, mostly registered independents, who are also liberal, while both pro-choice and pro-life. Badnarik, Cobb and Constitution Party member Michael Peroutka are on the ballot in the state. Cobb's VP, Patricia LaMarche, a radio talk show host from Yarmouth, is expected to help the Greens to fight for third. Running under "The Better Life" party line, Nader barely submitted enough signatures to get on the ballot in Maine. Those signatures are currently being challenged by the state's Democratic Party - supposed champions of "democracy." Four percent of Republicans and 3 percent of Democrats are voting for "Other." Eleven percent of both Republicans are voting for Kerry while 11 percent of Democrats are voting for Bush. Also voting for Bush: 12 percent of liberals and 38 percent of union households.

Michigan: Kerry has had consistent leads in Michigan [14 out of 16 since June] but the race is now tight. The latest Survey USA poll, posted Aug. 23, shows Kerry with a 3 point lead: Kerry 48, Bush 45, Other 5, Undecided 2 percent. The "Other" voters were described as "certain" voters, aged 18-34 and 50 to over 65, mostly Hispanic and Asian, registered Democrats and independents, and equally pro-life and pro-choice. Eight percent of Democrats, 36 percent of union households, and 12 percent of liberals said they were voting for Bush. Although Survey USA did not identified the Other candidates, Badnarik, Cobb, Peroutka, and the Natural Law Party's Walter Brown, are on the ballot. Nader submitted signatures and was also supposed to be on the Reform Party line, but he has not been granted access because the Democrats are suing.

Missouri: The presumed safe red state is still a toss up. A Los Angeles Times poll released yesterday shows Bush with a 4 point lead: Bush 48, Kerry 44. Nader was not included in the data and will not be on the ballot in the state. A subscription is required to access data from the poll. Badnarik will be on the ballot in the state.

Nevada: A safe red state now a toss up. A Research 2000 poll posted on Aug. 21 shows a Bush 44, Kerry 42, Nader 2, with 12 percent "Unsure," or room for any of the candidates to gain support. Without Nader, the results were Bush 44, Kerry 43. No other data was posted on the site. Nader, Cobb, and Badnarik will be on the ballot.

Ohio: Pundits have been predicting that Ohio will be 2004's Florida and we agree. A Los Angeles Times poll from earlier this week gives Bush the edge: 49 to 44 but the leads have been flipping back and forth. Nader was not included in the poll but will be on the ballot along with Badnarik. No other data was available. Kerry has led in 8 out of 14 polls in the state since June.

Pennsylvania: Another toss up. The latest poll, from the IssuesPA/Pew posted Aug. 22 shows Kerry 45, Bush 43, Nader 3 and 9 percent undecided/other. In a PDF linked to the site, Bush received 9 percent of the Democratic vote while Nader received 2 percent. Seven percent of Democrats were undecided. One percent of Republicans were voting for Nader. Badnarik and Cobb will be on the ballot but Nader may not be because of challenges by Democrats. Cobb has agreed not to campaign in the state because it is a swing state and the state's Greens are furious about it. Kerry has led in 12 out of 13 polls from the state since June.

Wisconsin: A surprising swing state swings back to Bush. Another Los Angeles Times poll released Aug. 25, Bush has a 4-point lead: Bush 48, Kerry 44. Nader was not included in the poll. The leads have been switching back and forth in a state that is historically blue. The ballot deadline isn't until September. Badnarik and Cobb are both on the ballot. Nader is trying to get on the ballot. Since June there have been eight polls with Bush and Kerry leading in four each.

Other anomalies in recent polling:
In Alabama, Bush has a huge 21-point lead, according to a Survey USA poll released on Aug. 23. However, 10 percent of Democrats, 23 percent of liberals, 59 percent of independents, and 13 percent of blacks are voting for Bush.
In Oklahoma, Bush has a 19-point lead, with 25 percent of the state's Democrats voting for him, according to a Survey USA poll posted Aug. 19. Eighteen percent of liberals and 35 percent of pro-choice supporters are voting for Bush.
In Maryland, Kerry has an 11-point lead, according to an Aug. 25 Survey USA poll. In it, Bush is getting 14 percent of Democrats, 13 percent of liberals, 28 percent of pro-choice voters, and 37 percent of union households.
In New Jersey, Kerry has a solid 10-point lead, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this week. However, 9 percent of Democrats are voting for Bush and 3 percent of Democrats voting for Nader. Twelve percent of Republicans are voting for Kerry with 2 percent of Republicans voting for Nader.
In Texas, Bush has a 21 percent lead, according to an Aug. 23 Survey USA poll. In the poll, 12 percent of Democrats, 21 percent of liberals, 41 percent of pro-choice supporters, and 52 percent of union households are voting for Bush.
In Virginia, the race has become surprisingly very tight, with Bush at a 4-point lead, according to Survey USA. In the poll, 6 percent of Democrats, 13 percent of liberals, 35 percent of pro-choice supporters and 44 percent of union households plan on voting for Bush.

These polls reveal a lot of information. But a few things are clear: Kerry is having problems holding his base - who are voting for Bush in droves - with Nader and the other minor candidates not impacting the race.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

The Unity Campaign updates its map
I spoke too soon. The Unity Campaign updated their national map slightly on Monday, raising John Kerry's Electoral College vote totals, without Ralph Nader on the ballot, to 275. However, the group did not post a number of new polls showing that Nader was not impacting John Kerry's race.
The group also changed their map from "This week in the Battleground" to the "Nader 04 Impact Map." It is located here: [Nader 04 Impact Map].
The name change is interesting. Before, they gave the impression that they would be updating the Battleground map weekly. They will update the map again on Aug. 30.
In an email, John Pearce, one of the founders of the group, said initial visitors found the map "obscure" and "the Nader impact issue was not clear." Fair enough. I told him that I thought the map was a good idea - so long as it was accurate and updated promptly. Pearce then wrote:

"We are not trying to shade the numbers. We are very small as an organization and are working on three other major campaigns. I know of the polls you mention and we'll add all the latest that match our methodology in our next update."
If they do that, the group will quickly find out that Nader is not impacting Kerry's numbers in the latest round of polling. We look forward to seeing their new map.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Why Open Secrets is a great site:
The Center for Responsive Politics', a Web site which analyzes and posts data from political campaigns, has just released a new report debunking the "Republicans for Nader" meme that has been circulating through the Web like a virus. The article is here: ["Double Impact"]. Personally, I love this section here:

"As a group, the 51 donors have given $54,300 to Nader and just over $415,000 to Republican candidates, parties and leadership PACs. They have contributed nearly $66,000 to Democrats. All but six of those donors have contributed more to Republicans than to Democrats during the current election cycle."

Hmm. Republicans gave Nader $54,300 - but they also gave Democrats "nearly $66,000." Gee, why are the Dems so mad? The Republicans gave them more money than Nader! This goes to the heart of what independents are always complaining about: Donors backing both major political parties. Now, they are throwing money at Nader, too. So maybe all this "Republicans for Nader" stuff is a bunch of bunk after all, eh?
Interestingly, this follow up by Open Secrets has been totally missed by the lamestream press over the last five days. A Google News search of "Nader, Republicans, Center for Responsive Politics," the parent group of the Open Secrets site, posted nine links and two stories published since the Center for Responsive Politics published its article. The other seven links were stories from news outlets before the Center released its article, including the USA Today, NPR, the Hartford Courant, and the Atlantic Monthly online. Here is what the two links revealed:
First, The Washington Post via MSNBC posted a story today about Nader ballot problems. The story is here: ["Nader unsure of ballot spots"].

"While Republicans do not deny offering logistical support to Nader's petition efforts in several states, direct financial contributions from those who have also donated to Bush so far amount to only $54,300, or 4 percent of the $1.5 million Nader has raised."

Not bad. At least the reporters noted that the donations were a very small amount of Nader's overall donations. However, there was no mention of the Republican money men giving to the Democrats.
Another link from the news search yielded a localized version of the story from Alabama, in The Mobile Register: ["Nader finds cash in Alabama"]. However, reporter Steve Myers also failed to mention that these Republican contributors had also given to Democrats:
"Last week, the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks federal campaign finances, reported that at least 51 Nader donors also had donated to GOP campaigns.
Those donors gave Nader $54,300 while pouring $415,000 to Republican candidates, action committees and parties, according to the organization."

Howard Kurtz, Dan Kennedy, where are you? :-)
At the same time, a Google News search of "Nader, Republicans," yielded more than 2,000 news story hits. Clearly, anti-Nader media bias is starting to slip into the coverage of this story.
A Google News search of "Nader, Republicans, Capital Eye" yielded one article from the San Diego Union Tribune about the political passions of online dating [In the article, John Hlinko is talked about. Hlinko is one of the co-founders of and the Nader-hating site].
A search of "Nader, Republicans, Open Secrets" yielded an editorial from the Albuquerque Tribune on Aug. 18 attacking state Sen. Rod Adair, a Roswell Republican, for urging people on his email list to sign Nader petitions.
"Nader, Republicans,," yielded no results from Google News.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Kerry leads shift:
It's been 10 days since The Unity Campaign sent out a national press release with an interactive map of the nation accusing Ralph Nader of potentially costing John Kerry the presidency. In three posts on Politizine, found in our Special Reports section, we've challenged the group's assertions with more extensive state polling data and even exchanged emails with the founder of the group. Since that time, using the group's methodology, there have been some major shifts in polling data - with potential bad news for Kerry. And the news has little to do with Nader.

The latest state polling data shows a very volatile political landscape with leads in many swing states switching back and forth between Kerry and President George W. Bush. It also changes the dynamic of the group's interactive map claiming Nader is impacting Kerry's ability to win.
Sidebar: The Unity Campaign has not updated its map since the press release was sent out. Most of the data on the map is now outdated. Some of the state polls are two months old. If they are to be true to their mission, they should update their map weekly and post the most recent polling data in a more timely manner.

Back to the latest polling: Since Tuesday's update, Kerry has slipped in some state polls.

The latest polls out of California, an assumed safe blue state, show Bush within striking distance, although the state is still slightly leaning to Kerry. Survey USA posted the Kerry 49, Bush 46 poll on Aug. 19, with 3 percent of respondents saying they were supporting "other" candidates and another 3 percent "undecided." In its methodology and demographics report, Survey USA said since Nader will not be on the ballot there, he would not be included in their California polling. So Kerry's slip in the latest Cali poll has nothing to do with Nader. The poll also did not list who the "other" candidates were. While some may assume Nader voters are in this 3 percent, those voters could be supporting Green Party candidate David Cobb or Libertarian Michael Badnarik, who has been appearing in some southwestern state polls. Deep in the data, the bulk of "other" voters were described as mostly male, "probable" voters, registered independents, Asian and Black, who had some college education, and in the 18-34 and 50 to 64 age brackets. It doesn't prove anything but it is interesting data. Registered Democrats gave Bush 6 percent of their support, while Kerry received 11 percent of the registered Republican votes - the highest amount of Republican support he has received in state polls. However, the 3 point spread would move California from the "solid Kerry" to the "slight lean Kerry" category on The Unity Campaign's map with no blame for Nader. Maybe Badnarik or Cobb will be a factor in the end. Will the group start attacking them too?

In Florida, the race is also tightening. The latest Strategic Vision poll from Aug. 20 shows a Kerry 48, Bush 46 race without Nader and a Kerry 47, Bush 46, Nader 2, with 5 undecided race when Nader is included. So, Florida would move from slight lean Kerry to toss up with or without Nader in the poll.
Note: Strategic Vision doesn't share any demographic information on its Web site so we are unable to look at other polling anomalies such as Democrats voting for Bush or the makeup of Nader's voters.

Strategic Vision also released a poll from Iowa on Aug. 19 showing similar results as Florida. In a one-on-one, Kerry leads 49 to 47. In a three-way, Kerry has 48, Bush 47, and Nader 2, with 3 undecided. So, Iowa would move from slight lean Kerry to toss up with or without Nader on the ballot.

A new poll from Ohio also yields bad news for Kerry. A Strategic Vision poll from Aug. 19 shows a 4 point Bush lead: Bush 49, Kerry 45, with Nader at 2 percent. Four percent are undecided. Without Nader, Kerry gains a point: Bush 49, Kerry 46, with 5 undecided. These latest numbers move Ohio back to a slight lean Bush state and back in line with The Unity Campaign's map. However, Nader doesn't impact Kerry's numbers enough to move it back into the toss up column, meaning the map is still inaccurate when clicking on the "no Nader" icon.

In other states, the polls are tightening but the states remain slight lean Kerry.

In Michigan, American Research Group released a poll Aug. 20. Without Nader in the poll, Kerry leads 49 to 46. With Nader, Kerry holds the same lead: 48 to 45, with Nader getting 1 percent. Nader takes equally from both candidates and isn't a factor. Since ARG does provide demographics, more data is revealed. In it, Nader earns votes equally from Republicans and Democrats: 1 percent. Yet, 9 percent of Democrats are voting for Bush. Clearly Democrats abandoning their own nominee is a bigger problem in Michigan than Nader.

In Minnesota, the situation is similar: Strategic Vision released a poll showing a Kerry lead 49 to 44. With Nader added, Kerry leads 47 to 44, with Nader getting 2 percent. But even with Nader earning 2 percent of possible Kerry support, the state remains a slight lean Kerry state on the map.

There is also more evidence that Nevada has moved back to a slightly lean Bush state - changing the dynamic on the map - although Nader is not to blame. Survey USA posted a poll Aug. 18 showing Bush with a 3 point lead. In the poll, 12 percent of Democrats and 19 percent who described themselves as "liberal" are voting for Bush. How can this be? Aren't liberals "united" against Bush? The voters in the "other" category are described as registered independent/other, Asian/other, and in the 35-49 age bracket.

However, there is also more evidence backing up our updates that more red states might be in play.

A Rasmussen Reports poll out of Colorado shows a 47 to 47 tie between Bush and Kerry. According to its main site, Nader is not included in Rasmussen's polls because they don't believe him to be a factor. Nader is supposed to be on the ballot on the Reform Party line. This is the second poll in a row showing Kerry competing in what was thought to be a red state and no Nader impact. It should be moved from slight lean Bush to toss up on The Unity Campaign's map.

In Missouri, Survey USA released a poll Aug. 18 showing a 1 point race: Bush 48, Kerry 47, 5 "other/undecided." No names were given for the undecided category. However, these voters were described as Asian/other, probable voters, liberal, both pro-life and pro-choice, and mostly registered as independents or to other parties. This means Badnarik, Cobb or Nader could be factors in the race. Seven percent of Democrats and 33 percent of union households are voting for Bush in the state. Missouri should be listed as a toss up with or without Nader. It is not on their map.

In an Aug. 20 ARG poll out of New Mexico, the state goes to Kerry. Without Nader, Kerry leads 52 to 42. With Nader, Kerry leads 49 to 42 with Nader getting 2. Seven are undecided. On The Unity Campaign's Web site, this latest poll would list Nader as impacting the state from a dark blue to light blue even though Nader only earns 2 percent of the vote. One percent of the vote decides not to vote for Kerry when Nader is added to the poll even though that 1 percent doesn't support Nader either, a strange anomaly. Also, in the demographics, 11 percent of Democrats are voting for Bush. However, with or without Nader, Kerry still has a substanial lead, so there's no impact.

Also, a newer poll out of North Carolina supports the premise that the state is no longer solid Bush but instead a slight lead Bush state. Survey USA on Aug. 16 posted a 51 to 46 Bush lead. However, this is below the 8 percent solid lead threshold needed to call it a safe Bush state. Also, Nader will not be on the ballot so he won't be a factor. There are reportedly only three candidates on the ballot in North Carolina: Badnarik, Bush, and Kerry. So, the 2 percent of those surveyed in the poll that selected "other," are probably with Badnarik. Two percent remain undecided. Those surveyed in the "other" category are described as Asian/other, probable voters, conservative to moderate although registered independents and in the 18-34 age bracket.

More data from Pennsylvania confirms assertions that the state isn't a slight lean Bush state, as stated on the group's map, but a slight lean Kerry state. Strategic Vision released a poll Aug. 20 showing a 5 point Kerry lead: Kerry 49, Bush 44. With Nader: Kerry 48, Bush 44, Nader 2, with 6 undecided. With or without Nader, Kerry has a 3 or more point lead. Again, the map is wrong.

In Washington state, the latest poll moves it from a slight lean Kerry to a solid Kerry state. Survey USA on Aug. 18 showed Kerry with 53, Bush 41, and Nader with 2 percent. Three percent were listed as "other/undecided." Deep inside the poll, 6 percent of Democrats and 8 percent of self-described liberals are voting for Bush. Other/undecided took 2 percent of the Republican vote - clearly Bardanik or Constitution Party nominee Michael Peroutka voters in action, a state where both candidates are on the ballot.

A Strategic Vision poll from Wisconsin has Kerry in a tie with Bush: 46 to 46, with Nader getting 2 percent. Without Nader, Kerry gains 1 percent and the lead: 47 to 46. This poll is one of a handful out of almost 300 state polls where Nader impacts Kerry's numbers. This poll also moves the state from a slight lean Kerry to the toss up category, with or without Nader.

Conclusions? When combining these new figures with previous revisions, The Unity Campaign's battleground map goes from a 254-252-32 virtual tie to a 237-186-115 slight Kerry lead. Nader impacts one small blue state. Although, analyzing the results of the polls on a win-lose basis, Kerry should still win the election - 286-242-10 [tie] - even with Nader on the ballot.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Quick Unity Campaign update:
Yesterday afternoon, I had some interesting back and forth with John Pearce, the main person behind The Unity Campaign, in reaction to my latest update about his group: [Falsely attacking Ralph Nader] .
Not surprisingly, Pearce took great offense to the post about his efforts, calling it "uncivil" and labeling my opinion that his group was profiting from attacking Nader as "slander." In closing, he challenged me to prove a "test of character" as to whether I would alter the offending words. Pearce also said he would respond with a counter-analysis of my thoughts about his map.
After explaining some legal terms to him - and the broader definition of the word "profit" - I modified the post in an effort to stem any frivolous lawsuits and to be more civil to the people ruthlessly attacking Nader [Hey John, how about giving some of that civility back to Ralph, eh?].

Interestingly enough, on the map front, there have been some more changes that make John Kerry's Electoral outlook even brighter than on Thursday when I posted the post.
In Colorado, a Survey USA poll out yesterday has Bush and Kerry in a 46 to 46 tie, with Nader not included in the poll. "Other" received 4 percent and 2 percent were undecided. However, since Survey USA allows people to look at their data with .pdfs posted on the Web, you can find out some interesting information about those people polled. For example, voters polled in the Other category were described as "probable" voters, black or Native American, female, registered as independents, leaning moderate to liberal, and in the 18 to 34 age bracket. The 4 percent could be for Nader or Libertarian Michael Badnarik. Nine percent of Democrats say they are voting for Bush. These latest numbers move the state from "slight-lean Bush" to the "toss up" category.
In an Aug. 11 Research 2000 poll, Kerry is within 3 percent of Bush in North Carolina, a supposedly solid red state. This is huge, and may be showing the positive effects of John Edwards to the ticket [Bush 48, Kerry 45, Nader, who won't be on the ballot in the state, received 0 percent]. A Survey USA poll from Aug. 2 out of Tennessee [missed by everyone], shows Kerry within 2 points of Bush: Bush 48, Kerry 46, Nader 0. This poll moves the state from solid red to slight lean Bush.
On the bad for Kerry side of things, there is a new poll out from New Mexico which moves the state from slight-lean Kerry to toss up - but Nader isn't even included in the poll. In a Rasmussen Reports poll from Aug. 15, Bush and Kerry are tied with 46 percent, with Badnarik gaining 4 percent. Nader is at 0 percent. What a spoiler that Badnarik is for potentially stealing 4 percent from Bush [tongue firmly planted in cheek]! What is he thinking? Isn't he hurting the conservative cause [That's sarcasm, folks]? This latest poll costs Kerry 5 EC votes but it has nothing to do with Nader.
So, let's update: Combined with my revisions from Thursday, the dynamic in The Unity Campaign's battleground map goes from a 254-252 virtual tie - to a win for Kerry with 291 Electoral College votes. Bush should be at 181 and 66 should be ruled as toss ups. And again, there is no Nader factor.
Now, as has been stated many times before, this could all change. But we won't be holding our breath to see if Pearce updates his map to truly reflect the accurate polling data and the non-impact of Nader's campaign. We may consider writing a more extensive piece about The Unity Campaign and other Nader-hating orgs sometime in the future.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Falsely attacking Ralph Nader:
It is getting pretty amazing out here in Internet land. Over the last few months, I have posted two reports about the non-Nader factor. You can read them here: ["Anti-Nader study falls flat"] and here: ["The non-Nader factor"].

Since that time, a few things have happened. First, the and folks have totally changed their strategy. They are now called "The Unity Campaign." They are also taking advantage of the popular Nader-bashing phenom. The group is actively soliciting donations for its effort and has barely raised over $13,000 destroying a great man who has a Constitutional right to run for president.

Second, they have totally changed their reporting perspective which is probably in response to the two reports posted here on Politizine. The group no longer tracks national preference polling to make their claims that Nader will cost John Kerry the election. Instead, they are following state by state polls, as we wisely suggested they should. The Unity Campaign now has an interactive map, with some of the latest numbers, posted here: [This week in the Battleground].

Sidebar: Not to brag, but it is clear that criticism posted about their data - both here and other places on the Web - led them to alter their strategy. This may be why they emailed me their data and Web site on Thursday. Politizine commends them for acknowledging that their previous data and strategy were flawed. Unfortunately, they haven't altered their attacks against Nader.

Back to the map: While looking at their current battleground map, it is clear that the strategic changes they made still lack some fundamentals. They still don't seem to understand the nature of winning and losing or assumptions that can be made from polling data. They also cleverly limit their data to make their case - even though more thorough analysis continues to show no Nader factor.

The group awards each state's Electoral College votes in the following manner: If a candidate has less than 3 percent of a lead, the state is deemed a "toss-up margin." If a candidate has a 3 to 8 percent lead, the state is identified as a "slight lean" state. More than an 8 percent lead, the state is called "leaning" or what would otherwise be called a solid for a specific candidate. The Unity Campaign's map has the race at Kerry 254, Bush 252, with 32 Electoral College votes as toss ups. We understand their methodology but challenge the premise that somehow a candidate is in a better position to win whether he has 2 percent or 3 percent. Most polls have the margin of error around 4 to 5 percent. If they altered their map to the 4 to 5 percent threshold - as others have - they could make the case that Kerry is in danger of losing the presidency, with or without Nader in the race.

Second sidebar: Since January, I have been watching the state polls at The Hedgehog Report, a site put together by David Wissing, a Republican activist. Sometime in July, he cleared the site of almost eight months worth of polls, saying it was getting too difficult to update. Luckily, I saved most of the analysis from these polls. His new site is here: [The Hedgehog Report] . Despite his Republican leanings, Wissing has shown Kerry with huge Electoral College vote leads based on polling he has been tracking for months. While he is a partisan, I think his methodology is very accurate and his site offers the most thorough polling data on the Web.
Currently, Wissing has the race at Kerry 296, Bush 242, based on recent state polls and previous election results.

For example, their electoral map lists four states with 32 Electoral College maps as "tossup" [sic] states: Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and New Hampshire. In three of those states, Minnesota, Missouri, and New Hampshire, Kerry is actually leading even though Nader is receiving small percentage points in polls. While the lead is within the margin of error in all the states, he still would hypothetically win those states.

Since June, there have been seven polls in Iowa. One shows a tie between Kerry and Bush. One shows Bush with a 1 point lead and Nader receiving 2 percent. However, this Des Moines Register poll from mid-July does not list any specific data about Nader's supporters except that they will be voting in November. So, while Nader could be impacting this poll, without the specifics, we just don't know. Five other polls show Kerry leads of 2 to 4 percent. In almost every other poll taken from Iowa between February and June, Kerry wins. In all other polls than the one mentioned above, Kerry wins or loses the race whether Nader is on the ballot or not. Iowa has also historically been a blue state. So, even though The Unity Campaign lists the state as a toss up, in reality, it is at worst a "slight lean" Kerry state. At best, it is a Kerry win.

Onto Minnesota, where the group has a poll posted from July 12 showing Kerry with a 1 point lead over Bush. Nader has 2 percent. However, there have been three other polls since that time showing Kerry leads as high as 7 percent. In all but one of the seven polls since June, Kerry has had leads as high as 9 percent. In the one poll - Strategic Vision from July 20-24 - Bush and Kerry were tied at 47, with Nader getting 2. Without Nader, Kerry has the lead, 48 to 47. In almost 250 polls done since January, this is one of about 10 that shows Nader potentially hurting Kerry. Nader's candidacy doesn't give Bush the lead, but he does potentially take the lead from Kerry. Strategic Vision, unfortunately, doesn't list any of the specific demographics from the poll on its Web site, so we don't know much about the methodology or how many Democrats are voting for Bush, an important anomaly in the 2004 election cycle. However, with or without Nader, Minnesota is clearly a "slight lean" Kerry state, at worst.

Missouri is a bit trickier. Between January and June, Bush led almost every poll in the state which has been considered a red state. However, with the economy in the tank and manufacturing getting hammered - something that both Kerry and Bush are to blame for - Missouri is now in play. Leads have been going back and forth between the two major party candidates. Bush's best lead was 11 percent in early June; Kerry, 3 points, in late July. However, Nader on the ballot in the state doesn't affect Kerry's results. In seven polls done in the state since June, Kerry either wins or loses on his own. I agree that the state is a toss up. But there is no Nader factor, despite assertions by the Web site.

Lastly, New Hampshire, which is always a mysterious state. Since after the primary in January, Bush and Kerry have traded leads back and forth. In all but one of the polls done in the state, Nader has not been a factor. In a Becker Institute poll from June, Kerry's 48 to 45 lead drops to a Bush 45 to 44 lead when Nader is added. But in other polls, Nader on the ballot has been a plus for Kerry, taking Republican votes away from Bush, as noted in a March ARG poll. In four other polls, Nader takes equally from both Bush and Kerry, 1 percent, again proving claims Nader and others have made about the 2000 election cycle: [Debunking the Myth]. Kerry has led in five of the polls from the state since June, with leads as high as 7 percent. New Hampshire could easily be rated a "slight lean" Kerry state.

With that said, their map also does not take into account all kinds of other polls held or current polls posted on Wissing's site. If The Unity Campaign did use these polls, their argument would be thrown right out the window.

For example, on their map, Ohio is listed as a "slight lean" Bush state when at best, it is a toss up. In the 10 polls held since June, Kerry has led in five and Bush in five. And again, Kerry wins or loses the state whether Nader is on the ballot or not. This has been consistent in all the polling done in the state, with one poll in June showing Nader helping Kerry by taking away more votes from Bush. In the poll they use to call the state slight lean Bush - from the Columbus Dispatch, mid-July - Bush is only leading by 3 percent, the definition of toss up in most people's eyes since it is below the standard 4 to 5 percent margin of error. So why again do they lean the state to Bush? Ohio is a toss up state, pure and simple.

They also list Pennsylvania as a "slight lean" Bush state based on a poll from late June. Since that poll, seven other polls have shown Kerry with decent leads in that state, mostly in the 5 to 12 percent range. In fact, the Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll listed is the only poll out of 10 since June with a Bush lead. And, there is no Nader factor in the polls. At worst, Pennsylvania is a "slight lean" Kerry state. At best, it will go to Kerry.

One could also argue that other states they designate as Bush "slight lean" states - Arkansas, Arizona, and Nevada - are actually toss ups. Using their definition, less than 3 percent being a toss up, all three states fit the toss up profile.
The Unity Campaign's latest poll posted from Arkansas is from May. Since that time, three other polls have shown a 1 point Kerry lead, a tie, and a 2 point Bush lead, with no Nader influence. So, Arkansas is clearly a toss up.
Over in Arizona, the same could be true. While Bush has led most polls - some by huge margins - the last two polls have a Bush 3 point lead and a Kerry 1 point lead. Nader won't be on the ballot in Arizona so it is doubtful he will be a factor. While lots of people admire him there, write-in candidates rarely earn many votes. Arizona should be listed as a toss up.
In Nevada, while Bush has led in past polls, the last two show a Bush lead by 3 and a Kerry lead by 4. In the poll in which Bush led, Nader received 4 percent, showing potential influence in the race although Mason-Dixon, the polling agency, offered no specifics in the methodology. In the other polls from all three states, Nader is not a factor. So Nevada should be considered a toss up too.

These mistakes alone change the dynamic in The Unity Campaign's battleground map - from a 254-252 virtual tie - to a win for Kerry with 296 Electoral College votes. Bush should be at 190 and 52 would be ruled as toss ups.

Conclusion? There is still no Nader factor. Kerry is currently leading - as he was when Politizine filed the two other reports. If The Unity Campaign folks would read the data properly and follow the polls correctly, they would see this.
Now, this could change. But as it stands now, Aug. 12, the day The Unity Campaign sent out their press release to the nation, it just isn't so. There is no Nader impact. These are the facts.
However, following the data properly and reporting accurately does not fit into The Unity Campaign's agenda. They are raising money and appearing on television talking about a political phenomenon that doesn't exist. It is a myth and their presumptions are wrong. Their actions are corrupt and they should be ashamed of themselves. Trashing Nader and misleading people about his campaign will not help Kerry win.

We will continue to follow this data and update it as the campaign moves along.

A few other notes:
Although I have curbed my blogging, Blogger has changed formats and it performs much better now. They have made these awesome new changes that make it easier to post links and design the pages. It is pretty impressive and very user-friendly. We are also delaying our new format introduction for a few more weeks until I can find a few more people to make commitments to post material here.