Polls: And When They Are Good ...

Posted: Sep 19, 2006 11:13 PM
Polls: And When They Are Good ...

  • The USA Today/Gallup poll released earlier this week had some very good news for the good guys. First, the President's approval ratings have grown to 44% with 51% saying they disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job. Minus seven.

  • If you don't think this is a big deal, keep in mind that back in May, the President's approval rating had dropped to 31%, with 65% disapproving. Minus 34!

  • When polls are bad, we (who are in the business of making the best of a bad situation) view them as minor irritations, sepia-toned, ragged-edged photographs, blurry in their detail, lacking in any depth.

  • When polls are good, though, hoo boy! They are the most important thing in the world; richly-pained tapestries, perfectly formed, sharpened to a scalpel's edge, the data jumping out in three-dimensional glory.

  • But that's not the big news in the Gallup poll. The big news …


    I just realized why I used the image of a scalpel's edge. It's because I had what is called "out-patient surgery" on Monday morning. The answer to your question is: Hernia repair, although I didn't think my hernia needed any repairing. It seemed to be doing just fine on its own.

    What I wanted was the hernia-be-gone surgery.

    When I heard that it was "out-patient surgery" got it in my mind it was like going to the dentist: A couple of Novocaine shots some drilling, rinsing, and spitting, then drive home.

    Outpatient surgery: A few shots, zip, zap, zoom thank you for stopping by; pay the lady on your way out.

    Well, let me tell you: Does the phrase "general anesthesia" mean anything at all to you?


  • The big news was the answer to the question: "If the election for Congress were being held today which party's candidate would you vote for in your Congressional District?" This is known as the "generic vote;" it is asked without using candidates' names because the incumbent is often much better known than the challenger and will tend to sway the results.

  • Among likely voters, the answer was: Republican 48%; Democrat 48%. A Tie.

  • Among some Republican electoral experts, the feeling is: If the GOP is in the minus five percentage point range going into election day, that's good enough because the Republican turnout operation will overcome that.

  • Bright colors! Sharp edges! Multi-dimensional good news!

  • But, before you go racing to place your election day bets with the boys at the 10 O'clock coffee klatch, consider this: At this point in the 2004 election cycle - mid-September - George W. Bush had leapt out to a lead of 54-40. On election day the result was a much closer 51-48.

  • On the other hand, the generic vote for Congress in that same Gallup mid-September 2004 poll had Republicans trailing Democrats 41-45. The final total was a national vote of 50% for Republicans, 48% for Democrats at the Congressional level.

  • I have mentioned to you before that this cycle felt more like 1998 - when the Dems picked up a net five seats in Clinton's second term mid-term election - than 1994 when Republicans took control of the House.

  • I have thought this because the Democrats are making the same mistakes this year as we (I was running GOPAC that cycle, so I take my share of the blame for a flawed strategy) made in 1998: It was all anti-Clinton all the time.

  • The Democrats have placed all their electoral eggs in being all anti-Bush in the same strategic way. They have no positive message and, with less than two months to go, the chances of finally crafting a coordinated national message which will attract a majority of voters in a majority of the Congressional Districts are fading fast.

  • Of course, the vote for Members of Congress is not a national vote. It is 435 separate elections and while there are only seven weeks to go, there are still seven weeks to go.