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August 30, 2004

Could There Actually Be a Bounce?

Although I still think Bush adds, at most, 1 point to his polling after the convention, there may be some reason to hope for a bit better than that.

Larry Sabato, who's been down on Bush's chances for months, now thinks there may be a bounce:

Moreover, isn't Bush having a mild semi-revival? Just about everyone agrees that the president has been helped a bit by the Swift Boat Veterans controversy, but there is more going on just beneath the surface. After a sustained period of public opinion disaster for Bush, he is inching back up in several surveys, including the Los Angeles Times Poll and the NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll, taking a narrow lead over Kerry after weeks of being behind the Democrat. (Sure, the earlier and the current polls all show statistical ties, but it's difficult not to pay attention when the big dogs of polling all move in the same direction at once.) It might be the public has become less enamored with John Kerry, especially on national security, and as a result, has returned--however reluctantly and/or temporarily--to George Bush.

We're engaged in pure speculation here, but if our guess is correct, might not Bush's small surge reinforce the natural high tide created by a party convention? The confluence of these two minor shifts could create a rare historical phenomenon: a convention bounce that is greater for the incumbent than for the challenger.

Trouble is, most of the undecideds are female and anti-Bush, so the few undecideds out there are more than likely going to break heavily for Kerry, no matter what happens. (The Bush camp claims it's internal polls show differently.)

But the Bush Bounce Theory has much stronger evidence going against it.

To wit, Dick Morris is predicting a Bush will get a bounce; historically, the predictions of Dick Morris have been chiefly indicative of what won't happen.

Some bits of Dick Morris' bad news:

So where is all this heading? If Bush uses his convention skillfully to highlight his homeland-security record and uses Sen. Zell Miller, his keynoter, to attack Kerry's Senate record, he should emerge in great shape.

After four days of Republican rhetoric, it is not fanciful to hope that Bush ends up with an 8- to 10-point margin over Kerry β€” 52-53 percent for Bush vs. 43-44 percent for Kerry.

Aaaaaargggghhh! Bank on Bush losing a point or two.

After the convention? Expect the lead to shrink a bit in the early days of September, but to grow to robust proportions again when the "third convention" is held β€” the anniversary of 9/11.

Thank Goodness! Expect Bush to regain the lead and to see that lead grow.

Spurred by the emotion and patriotism that will surround this grim annual event, Bush will probably take a good size lead into the debates that begin in mid-September and run until early October.

How will Bush do in the debates? My bet is: quite well. Will Kerry be able to close in October? My bet is: yes, but not all the way. But that uncertainty is what makes politics fun, especially this year.

Had Morris actually predicted a Bush win, I'd've been certain of his defeat.

Thankfully, he commits himself to no such prediction.

Thanks for keeping vague, Dick. I appreciate it.

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posted by Ace at 03:02 PM

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