Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Yet Another Look At Bounces

Maybe I'm Crossing Into Too Much Analysis Here...

But I took yet another look at the question of bounces, before the GOP Convention takes place at the end of this month.

In another post, I looked at the history of party conventions since 1944, but I realize there are some distinctions worth considering. For instance, the party conventions for the Republican and Democrat Conventions in 1944, 1948, 1952, 1956, and 1960 took place too close to each other to measure the effect of each individual convention. I also wanted to consider the difference between the first and second convention to take place, between the Incumbent President and his challenger, and of course take another gander at the difference between the Republican and Democrat party results.

As I mentioned in another post (to some dissent), John Kerry improved his internal and base numbers after his party's convention in Boston, but in the big contest, he failed to get a bounce. I speculate that this is primarily due to two factors: Kerry's bounce came early when he named Edwards as his running mate the week before, and also, Kerry's improvement in certain areas was matched by an unanticipated gain by Bush. Both men gained from the Democrat Convention. To those who still want to claim Kerry got abounce from the Convention, the numbers are plain: Kerry had a 3-point lead right before the convention, and he held a 3-point lead over President Bush the week after the Convention.

Let's agree to that basic point: Kerry definitely leads Bush right now. Yes, it's within the MoE when averaged out, but almost every poll gives Kerry the lead. Consider that point established, and move on.

Looking at the conventions from 1964 to 2000, the first convention held averaged 7.4 points for a bounce, ranging anywhere from a -10 bounce to a +28 bounce. The later convention averaged 5.1 points for a bounce, ranging anywhere from a -6 bounce to a +15 bounce. This tells us President Bush will have to buck that trend if he plans to take the lead before Labor Day.

Looking at the Challenger vs. Incumbent President, the Challenger (in 1964, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1992, and 1996) averaged a 7.0 bounce, ranging from a -10 bounce to a +28 bounce. The Incumbent President in those years averaged a 5.7 bounce, ranging from a -6 bounce to a +15 bounce. Again, this suggests President Bush is running uphill.

Challengers running against Presidents running for re-election (1972, 1980, 1984, 1996) average a 1.5 point bounce, while the Presidents running for re-election average a 8.8 point bounce. This is the first indicator that Bush may enjoy a nice bounce from his convention.

Finally, Democrats in 1964-2000 average a 2.5 point bounce from their conventions, while Republicans since 1964 average a 10 point bounce.

Two of the four indicators, then, suggest President Bush will either get no bounce, or may lose ground against Kerry. Another two, however, suggest Bush may not only take the lead with the Republican convention in New York, he may take a large one. The question of which indicator is correct depends on what plan will work.

The Republicans, of course, have planned a nice little show in New York. The Democrats have planned protests and will be spending campaign funds on new commercials that week. The specifics have not been discussed by either political party, for obvious reasons: Both parties hope to gain maximum effect from their operations, as time is getting tight.

For my part, I have gut feeling that President Bush will gain from the Republican Convention, but probably not because of the formal plan. I'll start with what the Democrats are doing wrong, which can play into the President's gain:

* The Democrats have apparently not realized, the public is increasingly convinced that the protests against the President are being organized by the Democrats, and as such, are negative attacks, all the worse because the Democrats are pretending not to be connected to their operatives. Observe that since "Fahrenheit 911" opened, support for Kerry has not strengthened but President Bush's base has energized.

* is sponsoring another commercial attacking President Bush, and they are letting their visitors choose the ad they will air during the GOP Covention. The absolute last thing the Democrats want, is to let the nastiest and meanest of the Left speak to the nation during the Republican Convention. It will remind everyone about the notorious 'Bush=Hitler' ads, and is essence will reinforce concerns that the Hard Left is an enemy of the average American, and that Senator Kerry is too close to the radicals in his party.

The other side, what I expect President Bush to do right, comes down to lessons learned from this campaign.

* First off, the cast of speakers for the Republican Convention, frankly, is more interesting than the line-up from the Democrats. Rudy Guliani, John McCain, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Zell Miller are all prime-time attractions, and have broad appeal to moderates and independants. Also, I have heard rumors about a surprise speaker who may really rock the house.

* Next, the Democrats have managed to give President Bush an opportunity they never planned. The Conventional Wisdom is, the Challenger uses the Convention to introduce himself, while the Incumbent is already known. But this year, the image presented to America by the Democrats is so far from the truth, that the real Dubya will be a surprise to many people. Also, President Bush has held back from giving out the details of his second term plans up to now, not only to prevent giving Kerry an early target to aim at, but also for timing. The President will explain his positions to an eager audience, and will open up a package of plans Kerry won't be able to answer effectively, until the debates.

Stay tuned, folks, this is going to get fun!

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