Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Why Kerry will lose, part 1

In the interest of space, and so as not to hog up the whole blog, I’ve divided this into three parts. Sorry it’s so long, but I just got to rambling and, well, here it is…

A teaser: Why will Kerry lose? Two words: Karl Rove. But more on that in part 3…

Now, here’s the thing. I have been saying for months that Kerry will lose and nobody believes me. It’s not that I want him to lose, I just think that this is one of the worst run campaigns—with a bad candidate—that I have seen in a long time. The president faces so many potential problems and has so many things going against him, and yet Kerry can’t make any head way. That tells me Bush is gonna win. Let’s examine just a couple of points…

First, Bush evaded the draft with some deft maneuvering. Or we could call it that, if everybody on the planet didn’t know he did it. His VP got out on student deferment, no qualms there. But somehow, Kerry can’t make any headway with his three purple hearts, bronze and silver stars. He volunteered for combat, went, got awards, and he is seen as fighting an uphill battle as to whether he can “win” the "who’s tougher" debate. Or the "who’s got the ability to lead the military" debate. Or the "who’s ever fulfilled their military duty" debate.

Second, the economy has lost 1.8 million overall jobs. Or so the numbers roughly tell us. Unemployment is higher than it was four years ago and people aren’t that happy with the state of the economy. And yet, the president doesn’t seem to be doing too poorly because of this. I am the first to say that jobs will be issue number one come November…but this president is winning on that issue? Where is Kerry? Why can’t he make any headway? Polls tell us that Democrats are the preferred party to deal with this issue. Hello? Any Democrats out there want to run on this issue? And with the announcement of jobs added in August, Bush will finally have a somewhat positive note to run on.

Third, Bush’s approval ratings are bad. In every category, except war on a noun, he has negative approval ratings. His overall ratings are negative. He is seen as a nice guy who will marginally do a good job on terrorism. That’s it. And that, and a bag of peanuts, will get you what? People don’t even like his job on Iraq. And yet, he’s at least even, or ahead, of Kerry? Two months ago, people were saying they hadn’t seen numbers this bad on a sitting president since, well, ever. And yet, he ain’t out of it yet.

Fourth, the war in Iraq. Let’s see, how many blunders can I find? How about, a billion? Can Kerry find ONE that he can either enunciate clearly or make stick? No. How about no imminent threat? How about no WMD? How about containment works? How about Hussein wouldn’t give terrorists WMD because terrorists would use them on Hussein? How about the fact that deterrence worked in the First Gulf War, under George HW Bush, and would work now? How about because there aren’t connections to terrorists? How about the fact that there are bigger threats out there? Do I need to continue? I could…and yet Kerry can’t choose one of these and have a go? [He just did, and it’s a loser…he has now insulted our “coalition”…what an idiot, you don’t insult what you have, you deride the president for alienating our traditional allies]

We’ll end it there, I’ll pick up where I left off tomorrow…


Raised By Republicans said...

OK, I'll begin the counter arguments...

I contest your basic assumption, namely that Kerry is doing badly. Your entire argument is based on this one, demonstrably false assumption.

After a full month of budget imposed innactivity (no ads), a barage of libalous attack ads from the Republicans, and the Republican National Convention, Kerry retains a 42 electoral vote lead in the state by state polls. I fail to see how this last emperical fact translates into "Kerry isn't making any headway."

Not to pile on but most of the states that are "in play" voted for Bush in 2000 meaning that Bush playing catch up. He had a month of nearly unopposed activity and has only managed to gain four points in the national polls (which don't matter) and has not changed the electoral math.

As for Karl Rove. This guy's favorite two words are "Dee Fault" (Simpsons reference). He is currently 1-0 after "winning" an election that all the models said would be a tie through a combination of disenfranchising tens of thousands of African Americans in Florida and a botched, partisan Supreme Court decision. And by the way, a week before the election, Bush was several points ahead of Gore in the national polls yet Gore ended up winning the popular vote by hundreds of thousands of votes. Are you saying that was according to Rove's genious master plan? Despite all this, you seem to regard Rove as some mysterious genious. He's not brilliant, he's lucky. That kind of genious might work once but its unlikely to work twice.

Oh, and one correction: Cheney didn't have student deferrments. He had no fewer than FIVE (5) medical deferrments based on a claim of back trouble. However said back condition did not effect his back torquing golf swing.

Prof. Werner von Brawn said...

Today, based on the LA Times State by State electoral poll (link thoughtfully provided on the right), Bush would win 295-243. This is done by taking the map as they have it and filling in states either Dem. or Rep. based on who is leading in the latest polls they supply. Where no recent poll is available, I filled in the map based on who won there in 2000.

While this does not mean that this will happen as it did last time...things change, for every season, blah, blah, does give your argument that assumes Kerry is ahead and will clearly win pause for thought. I will thus continue with my musings tomorrow.

Raised By Republicans said...

Now wait a minute: You can look at the electoral vote calculator (link also provided to the right) and find that Kerry has the 42 electoral vote lead that I talked about. Zogby has a similar electoral vote lead reported on his website. Also, the latest polls for four states show an exact tie so the LA Times numbers you mention can't be based on the criteria you claimed were used to produce the 295 vote victory for Bush.

The problem with the LA Times vote map is that they update it too slowly (sometimes only once a month). They've also flat out misreported polls before. Law Talkig Guy has a subscription to Polling's state by state polls. Perhapds he can shed light on the discrepency.

Finally, I wasn't saying Kerry was a lock. Although, I do think he's more likely to win. You are the one who made the grand claim that Bush was a lock to win. I was saying there is little evidence to support your basic assumption that Kerry is currently getting badly out maneuvered. At best, the evidence in support of your assumption is mixed.

I'll address your other unsubstantiated assumption (That Bush should be way behind except for the idiocy of Kerry) after you address it in more detail in part 2 or part 3.

Raised By Republicans said...

One more Horse Race thing showing Bush not kicking Kerry's butt.


"In the 3-day rolling average poll, Rasmussen now has Kerry and Bush exactly tied at 47.3% each nationally, with Kerry 1.2% ahead in the battleground states. If we compare this to the 3-day rolling average poll published Aug. 30, Bush is at exactly the same level he was then and Kerry is 0.9% higher. From these data, it appears that the postconvention bounce is already played out. In short, all the hand-wringing and cheering based on the Time and Newsweek polls was a bit premature. If you are a Democrat, you can stop crying in your beer; if you are a Republican, carefully try to pour the champagne back into the bottle. It is still very close."

OK, you gotta know that this Rasmussen fella knows his stuff 'cause he's got a Danish name!

Prof. Werner von Brawn said...

At the risk of getting into a protracted debate and ruining my afternoon of sitting around doing nothing, I will say that after reading part 3 (due Friday), you will see that I while I say he will lose, I also say he will lose unless his new campaign managers can handle him correctly...and since they seem to have been brought in to do just that, with the overriding reason being he isn't doing as well as most think he should be, I think I'm on solid ground with that point. Do you know another reason as to why old Clinton advisors are flocking to Kerry like moths to a flame?

Second, if you want to play the game of which poll do we believe today versus tomorrow versus in 55 days, fine. I, however, don't. There is a reason I don't study American is for reasons like that. My point remains, however. Based on the data, as currently stated on the LA Times website, as easily replicable as you'd like, you can see where I get Bush ahead in the polls. I have real numbers (are polls actually hyperreal numbers? Or just BS? Bell Curve, a clarification if you will please...) which I can point to, I have not just arrived at this position because my gut tells me...but believe me, my gut usually tells me correctly. Well, except for that old stuffing I ate last week, my gut went way wrong on that...

If you want to split hairs about the timing of this and the timing of that poll, I would say that leads to two additional points. 1) things have not solidified and you cannot therefore say I could not possibly have a point about Kerry's position, and 2) we shouldn't be talking about this until the day of the election, because polls will continue to change and bounce around, depending on whatever revelation either camp makes on a given day. This obviously means Kerry could win, but it also means Bush could be ahead today and could, unless Kerry does something, win. You can't have it one way without the other.

My point remains...George Bush is not the world's greatest candidate. He has problems. I'm therefore amazed he is as close (whether winning, losing, or drawing) as he is. I do not feel that Kerry or his campaign have done an adequate job to date. I provide numerous examples (or I will by Friday) where I think Bush is vulnerable, but since I don't feel these issues have been addressed, I say that Bush will be reelected. And, based on past precedent and the polls of the LA Times, I have just as much justification for that point as you clearly think I don't have.

So there...ttwwwwppptttt! :)

The Law Talking Guy said...

I'm not particularly impressed one way or another by the prognostication that either Kerry or Bush will win -- it's almost a 50% probability either way. What interests me is an argument about what motivates the electorate. This last (post-RNC) weekend aside, Kerry has had a slight lead in national polls for months. I'll be surprised if it doesn't become a basically 50/50 race again within a week or so. The electorate is bitterly divided, and there it little or no chance for persuasion of 90% of them.

Unfortunately, Prof. WVB's arguments seem to be all about persuasion of persuadable voters. Persuasion isn't the issue now. The truth is, it is very difficult to persuade people to unseat an incumbent president. In the 20th century, it has been done only in 1912, 1932, 1980, and 1992. 1912 and 1992 had strong third party candidates. 1932 was, of course, the worst crisis in American history since the Civil War. The only election in the past fifty years or so that looks *at all* like this one is the 1980 election between first-term incumbent Carter and Reagan. Then foreign policy issues were as powerful as economic ones. It is instructive that Reagan got only 50.7% of the vote. It would likely have been a super-close election, had not John Anderson and the Libertarian candidate taken 6.6% of the vote. Carter also faced a revolt in his own party (Kennedy), which GWB does not.

In other words, the dynamics of this election are very unusual: two unified parties, no strong third party candidates, few undecided voters (most Americans think this is paradigmatic -- they are dead wrong). The decisive moments in this election have not yet happened: they will occur in October during and after the debates. Until the clock starts to wind down, neither Bush's vulnerabilities nor Kerry's attacks will matter much. Neither will have "traction."

The Law Talking Guy said...

Note on the 1980 election. The EV count was 489-49.
If Carter got all of Jon Anderson's votes, the EV count would have been much closer: 319-216. Sitting presidents have close elections because of the incumbency factor.

Raised By Republicans said...

OK, I found the cause of our disagreement about the electoral vote calculations. By the way, this isn't trivial because your whole argument that Kerry is an idiot is based on your assertion that he's currently losing. So this discrepency between your version of the LA Times map and the map presented at electoral vote calculator by votemaster (see links in side bar) gets to the heart of your gut....wait a minute, do guts have hearts? My goal is that seeing more evidence will cause you to "Baysian update" your prior assumptions about Kerry and Democrats in general.

Anyway, you said you went to the LA Times electoral college map and applied the following method: "Dem. or Rep. based on who is leading in the latest polls they supply. Where no recent poll is available, I filled in the map based on who won there in 2000." I believe this method (through no fault of your own neccessarily) introduced significant pro-Bush bias into the electoral college vote count. Here is how:

1) Old polls. LA Times is a week behind on the Florida poll. The LA Times reports the late August Strategic Vision (R) poll. But Zogby released a poll on Sep 3 showing Florida exactly tied (actually Kerry is ahead by tenths of a point). The mistaken identification of the "latest poll" in Florida alone is a major shift in the electoral vote count. Same kind of problem with New Mexico, LA Times reports the state tied but a more recent Zogby poll shows Kerry with a 10 point lead in the state (although here your method corrects the bias because NM voted for Gore). Same problems in Colorado and Nevada, both of which Zogby has as tied as of Sept 3 but which should be safe Republican states (Karl Rove must be an idiot).

2) Assuming the state will vote the same way in 2004 as it did in 2000 is probably not a valid assumption. Its a consistent rule to apply and so is better than many used by analysts. But given how many states (especially Florida) were decided by tiny margines, its a dangerous assumption to make. Furthermore, this method introduces pro-Bush bias because most of the closest states voted for Bush in 2000. So you are more likely to mistakenly predict a Bush win in some state based on the 2000 result than mistakenly predict a Kerry win. Better to just report them as tied and discuss which of them Kerry or Bush MUST win to win the whole kit'n'kaboodle.

US West said...

Thanks LTG for bringing some sanity to the discussion. I agree that until election day, it is all a guessing game. It's a fun game, but only that.
I would only disagree on one point. I don't think both parties are unified. I think there is a sizable split in the Republican party between the Neocons and the regular ole' Republicans. As RBR has been saying, there are some Republicans out there who are leaning toward Kerry. But Kerry has to solidify and focus his message. He has been all over the place and he let himself get distracted by the Swift Boat commercials. On that count, I'd have to agree with the Professor that Kerry has got to get solid and start punching. And he has to get a message about his Iraqi position. Everytime the guy opens his mouth on the issue, GWB yells "flip flop". And I have to say that over the last two days, GWB has almost got me convinced; I can't stand the guy.

Kerry also has to point to the Administration's saber rattling in Iran and Syria, and it's complete disregard for North Korea at the moment. He has plenty of places to strike hard on foreign policy. So he better get is s@#!t kicking boots out.

Raised By Republicans said...

I think this guessing game is important for at least one big reason. The "aw, Bush'll probably win anyway" attitude espoused by Hr.Dr.W.v.Brawn is the kind of thing that makes 5% of potential Democratic voters stay home and pout cynically instead of voting in a close election.

As for unified parties: Thanks U.S. West for remembering that I've been saying the GOP is alienating important factions. Unfortunately, I have to admit that the number of "Stalwart" Republicans who are actuallly considering voting for Kerry is only about 10 to 15 percent of the Republican vote. What is significant about that is that traditionally, Democrats were far more deeply divided than that and now both parties are about equally (and only slightly) divided. That tends to support LTG's assertion that both parties are unified and bitterly divided.

Bell Curve said...

I for one will wait until I see the other two parts of the argument before passing judgment. I will say, though, that this first part sounds like "Given how inept Bush is, Kerry should win in a landslide, but won't." Which is true. But that doesn't mean that Kerry will lose.
Luckily, more arguments are forthcoming...