August 28, 2008

Some Very Heartening Numbers That Aren't Getting Nearly Enough Attention, You Know

Hatched by Dafydd

Most of the polling buzz seems to center around the Gallup tracking poll -- which for the first time during the Democratic National Convention shows a small bounce (up to +6) for Barack H. Obama. But there are some other numbers that belie the idea that the convention has spawned a significant -- or even noticible -- surge towards the Democrats (yet).

Gallup notes that the pre-convention tracking poll found Obama and John S. McCain in a dead-even tie, 45-45; so this represents a 6-point bounce on this particular poll. But -- and this is a very big but -- Obama's support still remains below 50%; he has a 48-42 lead over McCain.

This is significant because, in the history of this tracking poll, from the end of March until today, Barack Obama has never been above 50%; and John McCain has never been below 40%. In fact, Obama was up to 49% in late July -- a point higher than today -- and McCain was a point lower then. So the so-called "bounce" is still within the cosmic background noise of this particular poll. (And bear in mind, Gallup is polling registered voters, not likely voters; we have no idea how much of the increased support comes from people unlikely to translate that mini-surge into actual votes two months hence.)

It's entirely possible that tomorrow -- or by Monday, when the first fully post-convention number are released -- Obama will be up to 54% or 56%; nobody has a working crystal ball (especially not Larry Sabato). But at the moment, at least, Obama is doing no better than he generally has in the months before the convention.

And this is only one poll: According to Real Clear Politics' polling aggregation today, the other major tracking poll, Rasmussen daily tracking, shows no bounce at all so far. In the final three-days before the convention -- the poll released on Monday the 25th, showing polling from Friday, Saturday, and Sunday -- Obama was ahead by 4% (46-42) without leaners and 3% (48-45) when leaners were added in. The poll released today shows Obama ahead by only 1% (45-44) without leaners -- and dead even (47-47) with leaners added. Thus according to Rasmussen, Obama's lead has declined by 3% during the convention (again, so far).

As with the Gallup tracking poll, Obama has never been above 50% going all the way back to early June (not including leaners; he had three days of exactly 50% in early June if you include leaners). Similarly, he has enjoyed an 8% or 7% lead many times in that tracking poll... far better than the 1% (0%) he has right now.

We also have some puzzling non-tracking, pre-convention polling. The USA Today/Gallup poll in late July had McCain up by 4; and just before the convention, it had Obama up by 3, a 7-point gain for the One; but over that same period, the CNN poll had Obama up by 7 in late July, and just before the convention, it had them dead even -- a 7-point loss for Obama! Such the "science" of polling.

But I find some other numbers even more encouraging: the polling on the "generic congressional vote." This number derives from pollsters who ask variations on "do you plan to vote for the Democrat or the Republican in congressional races this November?" with no specific candidate names mentioned. It measures party strength... rather, it measures people's feelings about each party's "brand name."

Democrats usually do much better on this poll -- especially this far out -- than they end up doing in the election itself. And even the raw election numbers favor Democrats more than the actual results do, since the raw data include huge leads for seats with Democratic incrumbents.

At the moment, averaging across all polls conducted entirely within this month, the Democratic advantage on the generic poll is in single digits, a scant 8.4%. To put this in perspective, for all the polls conducted in July (in whole or in part), the generic advantage for Democrats was 12% -- it has dropped 4% in one month. This includes polls that have not yet been released this month, such as the AP/Ipsos, which might come in stronger for the Democrats (AP usually does); but even comparing the August polls to the previous versions of the exact same set of polls (USA Today/Gallup then and now, Fox News then and now, NBC-Wall Street Journal, Battleground, Rasmussen), the generic advantage for Democrats was 11%... so it's at least a 3% drop no matter how you cut it.

This is very, very important; even if McCain is elected president, if there is a huge surge of Democrats into Congress, he will be forced to work with them and will perforce shift left; if there is not -- if Republicans in the Senate still have enough reliable members to filibuster, for example, and if there is no chance of a veto-override in either the House or Senate -- then more than likely, ultra-liberal legislation won't even land on President McCain's desk.

Finally, one more number that made me smile. The RCP average of President George W. Bush's job approval is now up to 30%, having been as low as the mid-twenties earlier. He's on a roll!

(Congress, led by Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid, D-Caesar's Palace, 85%, and Squeaker of the House Nancy "NARAL" Pelosi, D-Haight-Ashbury, 93%, is now down to an RCP average of 17.3% approval. If this number continues to drop as we approach the election, I'll have to ask -- is it possible for measured job approval to be a negative number?)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 28, 2008, at the time of 5:40 PM

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The following hissed in response by: hunter

Let the Obamatons play on.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 29, 2008 6:00 AM

The following hissed in response by: David M

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 08/29/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

The above hissed in response by: David M [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 29, 2008 8:05 AM

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