Parlez-vous political free fall?

Ann Coulter
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Posted: Sep 30, 2004 12:00 AM

Recent polls show Bush ahead of Kerry by 9 points (CBS-NYT), 6 points (Gallup) or 3 points (Zogby). One Pew poll even put Bush ahead of Kerry by 16 points. The average of national polls has Bush 6 points ahead. Apparently, just like in Vietnam, it's taken Kerry only four months to piss off everyone around him.

The polls for Kerry are so bad that Al Hunt and Michael Moore are starting to yelp, "The polls mean nothing! Ignore the polls!" The only polls liberals ever considered "unimpeachable" were the ones that showed high approval ratings for Clinton during his impeachment ? who never got a 50 percent approval rating from Americans in an actual election.

Soon Democrats will be wheeling out the old chestnut about the only poll that counts being the one they take on Dec. 2 (or whenever they finish the recount demanded by Democrats after Kerry's loss).

Another bad augury for Kerry is that only 40 percent of his supporters in the New York Times-CBS poll like him. Nearly as many say they are supporting him simply because they dislike Bush. By contrast, 80 percent of Bush supporters like their candidate, and only 9 percent say they support him because they dislike Kerry.

Most inauspicious, just weeks before the election, Kerry is still trying to shore up the black vote. Poor Kerry can't even count on my gender in this election: Bush leads Kerry among women voters 48 percent to 43 percent (NYT-CBS). In 1980, Ronald Reagan split the women's vote with Carter and still whipped him. This year, Bush has a 5-point lead with the weaker sex.

In addition to major swings through black churches and the "Dr. Phil" TV show, Kerry is still trying to win the confidence of Moveon.org loonies. Last week, Kerry gave a speech at New York University ? the site of some of Al Gore's nuttier pronouncements about Bush ? to denounce "Halliburton."

Amid a solid stream of bad news, the New York Times reported on its own poll ? showing Kerry 8 points behind Bush ? in an article titled: "Bush Opens Lead Despite Unease Voiced in Survey." The Times bases its "unease" conclusion on some secret documents recently given to them by Bill Burkett. This would seem to go against the 80 percent likeability rating among Bush supporters I cited previously ? but hey, it's good to see Jayson Blair working again.

In fact, the only "unease" expressed by voters in the Times poll seems to center on the possibility that Kerry could be elected president. Sixty percent of respondents to the Times poll said they do not have confidence that Kerry could deal wisely with an international crisis. Only 26 percent of respondents said they had "a lot" of confidence in Kerry's ability to stop another terrorist attack, compared to 51 percent who have a lot of confidence in Bush's ability to do so.

How about that for the next Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker? "Three-quarters of us don't trust him on terror, but only 60 percent of us think he'd be incompetent in any international crisis."

And yet Times reporters Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder reasoned "there are signs that the election remains competitive ..." Most of these "signs" can be found posted on the Bushlied.com website.

After reading the Times' peculiar interpretation of its poll, I thought it might be fun to see how the Times reported on the polls preceding the largest electoral landslide in U.S. history: Ronald Reagan's 1984 a**-whipping of Walter Mondale. For the moveon.org voters and other ignorant teenagers, in the end, Reagan would win that election 59 percent to 40 percent. But in August 1984, the Times wrote about Reagan's massive lead over Mondale after the Republican Convention in an article titled: "Convention in Dallas: The Republicans, the Dangers Ahead."

Among the "dangers" for Reagan astutely noted by the Times was "the very fact that he appears so far ahead of Mr. Mondale." (Of course, the principal "danger" as far as the Times was concerned was that Reagan might win the Cold War and dispatch the left's favorite country.)

Times headlines in 1984 mostly ignored national polls and instead lavished a lot of news coverage on the enthusiasm of women voters for Mondale: "Women Voters Found Equally Divided in Poll" and "Ferraro Gets Feminists' Praise at Enthusiastic Rally in Manhattan." (According to the Times' own exit polls that year, Reagan won 57 percent of the women's vote. Mondale and John Kerry won their own states that year solely on the basis of the women's vote.)

In August 1984, Tom Wicker claimed on the Times' op-ed page that Mondale ? who would go on to lose every state in the nation except Minnesota ? had a shot at winning Texas. Texas! Not Massachusetts, not New York, not Vermont, but Texas. Wicker's Aug. 26 column, "A Chance in Texas," confided to his readers that "leading" Democrats in Texas "think that's possible." This was the historical equivalent of a headline in a newspaper from 1836: "Alamo forces confident of quick victory over Santa Anna."

As late as Oct. 12, 1984, Wicker was still promoting the Texas theory, telling his readers that if Mondale "is no more than 6 to 8 points behind President Reagan" in Texas the Friday before the election, the Mondale campaign was predicting a "comfortable victory" ? "perhaps by as much as 53 percent." After spending a week doing the math on that, Wicker began writing columns with headlines like: "The Ugliest Campaign" ? using the traditional definition of an "ugly" campaign as one the Democrats are losing.

Dan Rather's defenders would assure us that the media's refusal to believe any polls but the ones that say the Democrat is ahead is NOT evidence of reporters having an agenda. Instead, they say, the media just love a horse race! But like so many thoroughbred enthusiasts, the media are evidently not above trying to fix the occasional race.

Curiously, the media did not love a horse race in 1996, when Republicans ran Bob Dole (a certified, genuine war hero) against Bill Clinton (a certified, genuine draft dodger). The Times never discerned any "unease" or "danger ahead" for Clinton when polls consistently showed him ahead of Bob Dole, aka "Tax Collector for the Welfare State," as Newt Gingrich called Dole.

To the contrary, Times headlines in 1996 were exultant: "Clinton Shows That He, too, Has Support of Executives," and "Suburbs' Soccer Moms, Fleeing the GOP, Are Much Sought." Another 1996 Times headline said: "Dole Camp Looks to Coming Debates as a Last Chance." When will the Times be referring to the upcoming debates as Kerry's "last chance"? In my poll of me, I predict that after Bush beats Kerry in the debates, the Times will call it a draw.