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 Most of the data on the map is now outdated.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.

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