A bounce in all but name

By Stephen W. Stromberg
Published August 6, 2004 9:40PM (EDT)

Another poll shows that the Democrats' convention in Boston last week was a public relations coup for John Kerry in everything but the horserace bounce category. The University of Pennsylvania's latest National Annenberg Election Survey shows the Democratic challenger gaining on the optimism and values front after a convention awash with the words, well, "optimism" and "values." From the NAES press release:

"After the Democratic National Convention, John Kerry gained on George W. Bush when independents compared them on optimism, inspiration, and sharing their values, the University of Pennsylvanias National Annenberg Election Survey shows.

"Polling of 1,646 registered voters conducted from July 30, the day after the convention, through August 5 showed that 42 percent of independents now rate Kerry higher than Bush on optimism. Thirty percent rated Bush higher. In pre-convention polling, from July 5 through 25, Bush had a 41 to 34 percent advantage.

"Among all respondents, Kerry also gained when respondents rated the two candidates as optimistic, inspiring and sharing values, although the gains were smaller. For example, on optimism, Bush had led before the convention, 42 percent to 34 percent. After the convention, Kerry had clearly improved, with 40 percent rating him higher and 37 percent rating Bush higher. The earlier Bush advantage was statistically significant; the new finding falls within the margin of sampling error. The post-convention polling on traits had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

"Bush held important advantages on two questions, concerning the military and terrorism, questions that were asked only on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, to a total of 450 registered voters, Bush held important advantages. Forty-eight percent said they trusted him more to handle the responsibilities of being commander-in-chief of the military, while 41 percent preferred Kerry. That advantage was within the margin of sampling error, plus or minus five percentage points, for those two days.

"Fifty-one percent said Bush would do a better job handling the war on terrorism than would Kerry, who was preferred by 40 percent. However, this does not mean the public approves overwhelmingly of Bushs handling of terrorism. On another question asked for the full week, the public was basically split, just 51 percent said they approved of his handling of it while 47 percent disapproved, a statistically insignificant margin for approval.

"The poll also found that 47 percent of registered voters now had a favorable opinion of Kerry, while 36 percent were unfavorable. The margin of error was plus or minus two percentage points. Before the convention, it was 43 percent favorable, 34 percent unfavorable. Bushs standing was virtually unchanged. Now 49 percent were favorable, and 41 percent unfavorable. Before the convention it was 48 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable.

Stephen W. Stromberg

Stephen W. Stromberg is a former editorial fellow at Salon.

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