Zogby: The Race is STILL Kerry's to Lose
"In May of this year I wrote a column arguing that Senator John F. Kerry would defeat President George W. Bush in the November election. I based my conclusion on several factors. First, that Mr. Bush was posting weak numbers for an incumbent. In fact, the last three incumbents seeking re-election with numbers like his all went down in defeat – Gerald Ford in 1976, Jimmy Carter in 1980, and the President’s father in 1992.
"Second, I noted that Mr. Kerry led the President by double digits on four of the top five issues – the economy, health care, the conduct in the war in Iraq, and education. Third, is Mr. Kerry’s own history as a good “closer”, who has famously reached for victory in the throes of defeat several times before ....
"Since mid-August, the President has had several good weeks in tandem with a tepid performance by his opponent, but even in the glow of his post-convention bounce, Mr. Bush is still posting barometric readings that are over 50% negative....Remember, this [Kerry] is a candidate who gets about 45%-47% of the vote just by showing up. That is the purely anti-Bush vote. Kerry’s problem has been that up until last week he had not given his base anything to grab on to....
"But the Massachusetts Senator still has aces in his hand that he can play. First, the President’s numbers are still not good. Despite a few outlier polls that show a large single digit or even a double digit lead for Mr. Bush, my poll has the President’s lead at only 3% and the average of all the public polls (as of this writing) is only a 4 point lead. Mr. Bush is only polling at 46% to 48% both nationally and in many key battleground states, hardly victory territory. And his barometric readings are still more negative than positive....
"Mr. Kerry has more room for growth than the President. He has to first consolidate his base with an anti-war message that his base wants. He need not worry about accusations of flip-flopping on this issue because that is what the other side says about him and they are never going to vote for him under any circumstances. This alone will bring him to parity with the President in the polls.
"From there we see a startling statistic: only 16% to 20% of undecided voters feel that the President deserves to be re-elected. Forty-percent of this relatively small group feel that it is time for someone new. They seem to have their minds made up about the President and have been given no reason to vote for Mr. Kerry. What is most important to this group? They agree with Mr. Bush on values, leadership, the war on terror, and likeability. They prefer Mr. Kerry on the economy, health care, the war, and education....
"The pressure is really on Mr. Kerry to give a strong performance in both the debates and in the remaining five weeks of this campaign. If he is the John Kerry who defeated popular Governor Bill Weld in the Senate race of 2000 and the one who came from dismally low numbers in 2003 to win the primaries in 2004, he will win this race.
"As of this writing this race is still John Kerry’s to lose."
You heard it first from JZ. You still hear it from JZ. And you heard it from me, as soon as I got around to reading it.
UPDATE: Zogby's latest, glossed by Steve Soto on The Left Coaster:
"Yet the most ominous development for Bush in this poll is this from Zogby himself:
'The post convention bounce for Bush is over and his biggest hurdle is among undecided voters who give him a 31 percent positive job performance rating and a 69 percent negative rating. Only 13 percent of undecided voters feel that the president deserves re-election (his lowest yet) while 37 percent feel it is time for someone new.'
"So Bush has squandered his convention bounce, and he is toast with the undecided voters, whom history shows usually break towards the challenger at the close anyway."