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"Bounce" Update

Topics: Barack Obama , Bounce , Bump , Conventions , Gallup Daily , John McCain , Sarah Palin

I spent much of yesterday in taxis, airports and planes, and most of the last 24 hours sleeping and reintroducing myself to my family after a five day absence. So my apologies for being away when many of your are curious about the "bounce" and reactions to Republican VP choice Sarah Palin.

Let's start with "the bounce." The Gallup Daily tracking survey conducted Wednesday through Friday shows Barack Obama leading John McCain by eight points (49% to 41%) up from the 45-45% tie measured the full week before the convention. The Rasmussen Reports automated survey conducted over the same three nights shows Obama with a four point lead (49% to 45%), after they had him "leading by just one or two points for most of August."

The most important question, tossed my way by my colleague Marc Ambinder, is whether this shift represents a momentary "spike" or a real and persistent change in voter preferences. And the short but frustrating answer is, there is simply no way to know for certain right now.

One problem is that we have a very limited sample of past convention "bounces" to examine -- a sample size of 10 elections and 20 conventions since 1968 -- and the patterns within that sample have been inconsistent. Some bounces persist, some fade almost immediately.

Another problem, which I explored in a column earlier in the week, is that almost all of the "bounces" of conventions past were measured by multi-day polls conducted a week after the convention without another convention underway. This time, the virtual overlap of the two conventions prevents us from obtaining post DNC "bounce" numbers that are comparable to past measurements. So my recommendation is to avoid historical comparisons.

Finally, consider a few reasons why conventions bounces are sometimes just momentary blips.

First, most pollsters will tell you that attitudes are likely "in flux" at times like these. Watching one side of an argument for an hour or more might leave an uncertain voter "leaning" in one direction for a few days only to shift back in the other direction after hearing from the other side a few days or weeks later.

Second, the kinds of people likely to have been at home the last few days may have been a bit different than those who were away (and thus not part of the survey). Partisan Democrats and Obama supporters may have made it a point to be at home n order to watch the convention. Also, those who just happened to be home (for whatever reason) were probably more likely to have watched the convention and the news generally than those more likely to have been away (for whatever reason). The combination may result in a momentary "response bias" favor ingof the Democrats.

It is not surprising that the Rasmussen survey shows a smaller shift, since they weight by party identification. If the "bounce" is solely the result of a non-response bias toward Democratic identifiers, party weighting in this situation would make sense. But we don't know that it is. Conventions bounces that are real and persistent often shift party identification and candidate preference. In September 2004, for example, five national surveys conducted entirely after the Republican convention showed increases in Republican identification. Pollsters that weighted by the pre-convention party ID averages would have artificially suppressed the size of Bush's bounce.

So, like it or not, we really won't have a sense of what these shifts mean -- and what they portend for the rest of the campaign -- until the Republican convention ends and the dust starts to settle in about 10 days.

As for the polls out today testing reactions to Sarah Palin, I hope to post more tomorrow, but for now suffice it to say that I put very little stock in one-night quickie polls conducted on the Friday night before a three-day, holiday weekend. The one from Gallup is probably the best of the lot, if only because they provide comparable results from prior one-night quickie polls conducted to evaluate vice-presidential nominees (although most of these were fielded on week-nights). But take it all with huge grains of salt. With someone as unknown nationally as Sarah Palin was just 48 hours ago, first impressions can be exceptionally fleeting.

 

Comments
Florida Voter:

Can't imagine Palin upsetting the Demo bounce. She's an unknown at this point. Probably by 9/15, (give people time to absorb her story), the polling will be a better picture of what is happening. She certainly doesn't impress me.

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MartyH:

FV-

Palin certainly impressed lots of other people-McCain raised $7 million within 36 hours of her announcement.

It's only three electoral votes, but you can put Alaska in the R column again this year. Obama can focus his efforts on 17 battleground states.

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RS:

FV:
One would think that Obama's well-received acceptance speech would have increased his lead over McCain from Gallup's 49-41 on Friday morning, but it remained at 49-41 on Saturday. Looks like the Palin pick prevented further erosion of McCain's support. Maybe Clinton voters-for-McCain who were slowly returning to the Democratic ticket decided to give McCain another look since he hired a woman/Palin.

Mark B.: According to 2004 exit polls, only 78% made their choice more than a month before the election. So surely, any movement above 40% for either candidate now should be taken with a grain of salt?
[Note: my question to Mark B makes my earlier pontificating on the polls suspect!]

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boskop:

in paris for work, i welcomed with joy my personal pick for john mccain. ta da! i recall being bashed on this site many weeks gone by for naming palin as the only possible choice for an alert mccain. clearly he is.

yes, she will sit on obama's bounce. the claim that she is unready merely redounds that much more vigorously against obama. after all, she is not running for president .he is.

so anything he might say against her readiness looks that much worse when the table is turned on him.

i am delighted that mccain has the nimbleness to adjust midstream and take the wild card. he is proving by this pick despite his political sense of humor to win and play as hard as the tactical choices obama makes. biden for example.

but he is also sending a message that he is able to change. not run on a platform of wordiness but of actions.

this works better for america as you will soon see. farmers. workers, lower middle class respond to actions not promises.

anyway, it's nice to be right. i cant imagine why the pundits who will forever be called ass dumb idiots never saw this coming.

if i did why not them?

answer: they just recycle their own words and never THINK. and finally they have been buried under their own arrogance and hubris that they can control our opinions. you know where they can put it???? maybe they finally do too.

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bmcfar01:

It has got to be really disconcerting for the Obama campaign that even with this post-convention bounce, Obama still can't break into 50%.

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douglasfactors:

Obama still can't break into 50%.

The rebuttal practically writes itself.

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Patrick:

By historic standards, Obama's bounce is pretty small. And of course, the fact that he was 'wiped off' the news early the next morning by McCain's dramatic VP pick gave it no legs. I'm lifelong Dem, though I don't support Obama, and I think Palin was a brilliant selection on McCain's part. He needed to shake up a race in which Obama has all the advantages. And he certainly did! Talk about someone that the average American can identify with! She looks and sounds like your neighbor, your co-worker, your sister-in-law. And she has a history (albeit a short one) of reform and being a maverick. The campaign has raised $7 million dollars just since Friday (before the convention even starts), conservatives are as enegergized as they've been in years, the guns rights/sportsmen (important swing voters in OH and PA, among other states) will love her. She even has a baby with Down's Syndrome! And the argument that she's not experienced enough to be 2nd in line just backfires on the Dems. The Sun. morning shows this morning are providing a preview: the minute anyone brings up her lack of experience, the Republicans go right on the attack and say 'she has as much experience as Obama, has actual executive experience, and he's at the TOP of your ticket!" Pretty compelling argument. Unless there's some very dirty laundry in her background, I think McCain has hit a 'grand slam'. I predict Palin will give a great, down-to-earth 'I know your pain' introductory speech at the convention and people (even those who disagree with her) will like and respect her. Obama chose to push Hillary aside, divide the party, and 'bunt' with a lackluster choice like Biden. McCain went bold. And with just enough white women, the conservative base, and guns rights voters on board, McCain will win the election. Just as I've been predicting. Just watch.

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Mark Lindeman:

RS: The nominal margin of error for a single day of the Gallup tracking poll is something between 6 and 7 points on the margin between the leaders. We don't have direct access to those daily numbers, of course. And it's a hard time to poll. I think what you suggest is perfectly possible, strange as it may seem to some of us relatively attentive political observers -- but who knows?

I think anything that happens right now should be taken with salt. At the same time, I wouldn't take the 78% figure too literally: some folks who will say that they made up their mind late will have had strong leanings one way or the other. Let's see how things look after the RNC and after we've had some fresh state polls.

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zotz:

'she has as much experience as Obama, has actual executive experience, and he's at the TOP of your ticket!" Pretty compelling argument.'

Yeah, right!
Obama has been through the crucible of 20 primary debates. Not only has he discussed and debated foreign policy with the top leaders and diplomats in this country but he has met with and discussed policy with President Sarkozy, Prime Minister Brown, Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Barak, Prime Minister al-Malaki, President Karzai and debated military strategy with General Petraeus. He has debated health care reform with Sen. Clinton and has been endorsed by her and President Clinton.

All of that, according to you, is less important than Palin's one year ,eight mos. experience as gov. of AK.

The more this is examined the more clear it is that THE REPS HAVE LOST THEIR MINDS!

Jeez-Louise!!!

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eddie59:

I posted several comments on here when Obama selected Biden arguing that based on historical trends/evidence VPs don't bring in votes. I still believe that, although it's possible that Alaska may now be more likely to for the GOP (which was already very likely anyway).

I have to say that I've been surprised at the very enthusiastic response from the GOP base at McCain's selection of Palin. Many in the social conservative camp of the GOP base have been unenthusiastic about McCain and many just would have not shown up on election day with Lieberman or Ridge as VP.

But for the first time in this campaign, I hear a lot of Republicans sounding excited about McCain. The energy level in the GOP seemed to go from "I guess I can stomach voting for McCain" to "WOW!" in less than 24 hours.

Who knows if that will continue for the next 2 months or not. But you have to give McCain credit for making a bold choice that has re-energized his own party.

At the same time, by picking Palin it significantly blunts the "lack of experience" argument McCain has been using against Obama. Yes, we all know that she has executive experience and has been governor for almost 2 years now. But, she doesn't have very much experience and extremely little foreign policy experience. Of course, Obama can't make a big deal out of her lack of experience because it quickly backfires on him. I'm sorry, but traveling around the world, giving some nice speeches in foreign countries and meeting with a few world leaders is not experience. It's just meeting with some people.

I'm also skeptical that a lot of the Clinton supporters will jump ship to McCain/Palin. It'll really depend on how compelling a case McCain can make on why he'd be better than Obama. I don't think people will support the GOP now just because of Palin.

So I'd say it's an interesting and bold choice with the potential of finally getting the social conservatives excited about McCain.

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straight talk:

this pick was horrible. She has never ever been out of the U.S. And there is no way that they can still the change argument away from obama/biden. Mccain agrees with the current policies already in place. Obama/biden will carry the electorate in a landslide!

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Clint Cooper:

How is it that Sarah Palin's coworkers didn't even know she was pregnant, even seven months into the pregnancy??

How is it that Sarah Palin reportedly left Colorado on a plane AFTER her water broke.

It seems very clear that the kid is not hers, but her daughter's. Enquiring minds want to know.

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H2OPlus:

McCain has had trouble in getting previous Bush contributors to give. The $7 million, while impressive, is catch up. No doubt, Pahlin is helping with anti-abortion folks. The bulk of the money came from there.

Nevertheless, only time and Pahlin will tell how her selection will play out. Fortunately, people are not valuing experience as great an asset as they did in past election cycles. This time, as McCain is finding out (which Clinton found out too late), experience is being framed as "deeply embedded in the status quo."

McCain has come to the realization as Romney did earlier that the major force in this election is change. Being a sound commander-in-chief is a distant second except with conservatives. However, McCain has seen that the electorate is giving the change label to Obama. Picking Pahlin is an effort to wrest that label from Obama.

Remember, talent generally trumps experience. You can always give the talented experience, but you can't give the experienced talent. By November, if not earlier, we shall see whether Pahlin has any talent.


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Basil:

I spoke with someone in the state parks dep't. in Alaska who said he'd switched from D to R just to vote for Palin, but who is totally convinced that she can't stand up under the scrutiny of vetting.

Given McCain's unpopularity with the R's evangelical base, Palin can only help there. But the vast majority of voters rightly regard her values and qualifications as a bizarre (and thin) mix.

Virtually no Hillary supporter who actually would have voted for Hillary can handle Palin's positions. It's like a Clarence Thomas moment for them--"You want a replacement for Thurgood Marshall? How about this, chumps?"

R's can counter that Obama's never been a governor, but it's cynical and disingenuous on their part (what a surprise).
Being governor of Alaska is like being the mayor of El Paso, Texas, but with nobody living in Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Galveston, Lubbock, Laredo, Brownsville, Crawford etc, etc.--and with the El Paso population spread out over an area more than twice the size of Texas. It's like being the leader of the outback--an interesting job that bears almost no resemblance to the one she's up for now.

The governor of Alaska represents less than 10% of the residents in Obama's U.S. Senate district.

Being mayor of Wasilla, Alaska is like representing 5% of Obama's district in the Illinois state senate, where he served for eight years.

Being governor of Texas qualifies you to be the worst president in history. Sorry.

So...she doesn't know anything about cities, the world, Iraq, climate change, the military (except for her son, but she said she hadn't been following the war), the federal government, the lower 48, or the job McCain's caretakers have chosen for her.

That makes her the ideal candidate for the modern Know-Nothing Party.

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brambster:

@Clint Cooper

This Babygate thing was a sham. There was nothing but some highly speculative photos and some made up stuff about her daughter being out of school for 5 months with mono. There's absolutely no proof of that at all that I have seen.

If there's a story here, it is likely about the Daily Kos participant by the name of ArcXIX that broke the news. The only previous post was 3 years ago in support of their Christian faith. Not sure where this person would get such a scoop from. At this point that sounds more suspect to me than Babygate.

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Baz744:

Brambster: am I reading you right? Is there reason to believe then that this ugly rumor was started by an evangelical?

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CNN has the race tied again. The "pregnancy" thing guarantees that Palin will stay in the news, and it embarasses the looney people who started/believed the rumor. Palin is Roveian brilliance. Hopefully the Dems will learn how to respond. For a good analysis of this see: http://dissentingjustice.blogspot.com/2008/08/palin-roveian-strategy.html

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brambster:

@Baz744

No, I didn't say that. I did not state that this person was an evangelical. All I was inferring was that the person that started the rumor was not your typical lefty posting on Daily Kos, and considering the 3 year absence and the clear attempt to re-write some of the quoted material, selectively use pictures that were 2 years old, and make claims claims without any substantiated whatsoever in a very damning post, it seemed quite purposeful in what it was trying to do.

No doubt that campaigns and other groups do in fact use such sites to push things that they feel is beneficial to their cause, and it's not always done in obvious style. The NYTimes already noted the heavy editing of Palin's Wikipedia page just before her announcement. We've heard stories of CEO's posting on stock message boards, and journalists starting blogs under pseudonyms, and books written by campaign insiders under pseudonyms well.

So who knows who was behind this, or why they were behind this, but it didn't look to be innocent.

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jamees:

A war in Iraq , A TASK THAT IS FROM GOD ?
Watch your language Sarah , You might end up on the list of extremists , fundamentalists ...terrorists

Start praying Sarah !

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