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October 04, 2004

ABC/WaPo Poll: Bush By 5?

Geraghty says that the ABC/WaPo poll might have Bush up by five points tomorrow.

If true, then it looks pretty good for Bush. That would mean that his support is currently strong enough to resist a poor debate showing (and a good one by his opponent), and there's little that's likely to move more votes between now and election day. (Barring a terrorist attack, etc.)

I don't think we have the full story yet -- the full impact of the debate may yet to be felt -- but this just may be a case of the old rule that debates just don't move many votes. Kerry's performance was clearly stronger than Bush's -- but that's still just a performance. No one would vote for Bush just because he could win a game of horse; only a small number of people might become Kerry supporters just because he performed better in a verbal sparring match.

It brings to mind a debate that was held at the New School (I think) a long time ago. I think either Hitchens or Sullivan or both defended the war -- before the war, that is -- while some hack leftists gave the Give Peace a Chance spiel. Hitchens/Sullivan were clearly the superior debaters, and clearly had the better arguments and better command of the facts, and yet I'm guessing that that New School audience of very liberal/outright leftist New York intellectuals didn't change their opinion just because Hitchens/Sullivan handed the competition their lunch.

People have opinions on these matters already. A good debate performance is good to move some opinions, but most opinions are already firm and only new facts -- not new arguments -- will move them.

This brings up my peeve with the LLM always instructing us in that condescendingly pious manner of theirs that "this election ought to be about the issues." I think they say this because they believe that most of us are ignorant and/or stupid, and that if we merely have enough good liberal pedagogy on "the issues," with Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric patiently explaining to us all the myriad ways in which we are wrong/retarded, we'll suddenly slap our collective hand to our collective forehead and say, "Voila! Now I see what a stupid dick I've been, all along."

There's a reason that questions about lying, hypocrisy, inconsistency, etc. -- "character issues" -- are important. It's not because they're necessarily more important than "the real issues" I keep hearing so much about. It's that, contrary to the beliefs of the liberal legacy media and the DNC, the American public already has a fairly good idea where it stands on the "real issues." And so arguing over the "real issues" can only move so many votes -- it's all already baked into the cake. None of these arguments, no matter how well made or eloquently delivered, are new information which can change many minds.

Whereas "character issues," such as the SwiftVets charges, are actually a specie of new information. The SwiftVets' charges were new data the public had to process (despite the media's insistence that the public ignore the data entirely).

But rehashing "the war was wrong" -- everyone already knows where they stand on this, pretty much. Even the "undecided voters," who pollsters like Frank Luntz usually say are already pretty much decided. They just like calling themselves "undecided," because it makes them feel open-minded and important.

Update: The poll is now out. It shows the rumored 51-46-1 split. Bush lost some of his "very enthusiastic" support and Kerry gained some such support. But the horse race continues to show a good Bush lead.

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posted by Ace at 06:33 PM

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