In the polls


Geraldine Sealey
January 27, 2004 8:07PM (UTC)

After days of post-Scream drubbing, Howard Dean may find some hope in recent tracking polls showing an uptick for the former front-runner among likely New Hampshire voters going into today's vote. The ARG daily tracking poll shows Kerry at 35 percent, Dean at 25 percent, Edwards at 15 percent, Clark at 13 percent and Lieberman at 6 percent. Undecideds are 5 percent, and margin of error is +/- 4 percent.

The good news for Dean is in the ARG's analysis of the poll from Monday: "The most significant result from the tracking for today is that support for Kerry, Clark, and Edwards dropped along with the continuing increase in support for Dean. Women 45 and older are returning to Howard Dean, helping to give him a 4 percentage-point gain on January 25 and a 5 percentage-point gain on January 26. Verbatims among this group point to fairness/sympathy for Dean and not beating George W. Bush driving the return to Dean. If the trend to Dean continues into tomorrow, the race will be very close as it appears that Kerry will not capture the undecided."

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The Boston Globe poll shows Kerry at 37 percent, Dean at 20 percent, Edwards at 12, Clark at 8, Lieberman at 7 and undecideds at 16 percent. Kerry and Edwards remained stable from the day before -- while Dean gained 3 percentage points and Clark lost three.

The Globe asked voters why they liked or disliked certain candidates -- note the "can-he-beat-Bush?" factor. Why Kerry supporters like him: 24 percent say he has the most well-rounded experience, 23 percent say he has the best chance to beat Bush, 22 percent agree with his issue positions, 16 percent generally like him. Reasons non-Dean supporters do not support him: 33 percent generally don't like him, 14 percent say he can't beat Bush, 13 percent cited his Iowa loss and the "scream" speech, 13 percent disagree with his issue positions.

In a poll released Monday, pollster John Zogby had Dean trailing Kerry by just 3 points (he's including "leaners"),while most other tracking polls showed a much wider margin for Kerry. Dean even used the outlier poll on the stump as proof that the race was too close to call. Today, Zogby not only shows a 13-point lead for Kerry, he practically predicts the outcome of today's vote -- Kerry, on the electability question. Has he not heard how fickle these New Hampshire voters are?

Zogby actually pinpoints the very moment in time Kerry took New Hampshire. What was going on up there late yesterday afternoon, we wonder? "For Kerry the dam burst after 5PM on Monday. Kerry had a huge day as Undecideds broke his way by a factor of four to one over Dean ... In the final analysis, voters raised doubts about Howard Dean. Through the second half of 2003, New Hampshire voters indicated that they were angry but overwhelmingly felt that President Bush was a shoo-in for re-election. But as in Iowa, the closer Democrats got to actually voting, there was a renewed sense that President Bush could and must be defeated ... In 2004, electability has become the issue and John Kerry has benefited by developing a sharper message, by his veteran status, and -- this is particularly significant -- New Hampshire Democrats tell us that he looks like a president."


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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