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Friday, September 17, 2004

The presidential polling boom is in full swing. New polls are coming out daily. At the moment, there is no consensus among the pollsters. The race is either a dead heat (a Harris poll released Thursday, and a Pew Research poll taken between 9/11 and 9/14) or a Bush blowout by 16% among likely voters (Pew Research, taken between 9/8 and 9/10), take your pick.

More than occasionally, for various reasons, a poll is just flat wrong. But I think that, in this case, its possible that there is an explanation for the wild swing in the Pew poll: Rathergate.

Rather made the story impugning Bush's National Guard Service late (late for polling, at least) in the evening of 9/10. The reaction in the pajamasphere was both strong and immediate, but the mass media didn't pick up the story until the weekend (9/11-9/12) and only really got going on it on Monday, 9/13.

That means that whatever damage Rather did to the Bush campaign with the story is not picked up at all in the earlier survey (9/8-9/10), but is reflected in the later poll (9/11-9/14) without much diminution by reason of the destruction of the memos as forgeries in the blogosphere.

The conventional wisdom is that Rather did little damage because no one cares what Bush did or didn't do thirty five years ago. I disagree. I think that the story had a significant impact on the electorate, which was negated by Rather's incredible stupidity in relying on those memos, which was pointed out over the following week or so.

As to the race, my gut tells me Bush is ahead by a significant margin. Of course, my gut may just be telling me what I want to hear.
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