In the polls

By Jeff Horwitz
Published October 7, 2004 7:25PM (EDT)

Zogby fired off another barrage of state polling results late yesterday, and, as has frequently been the case, most are substantially kinder to John Kerry than other state surveys. John Kerry leads among likely voters in 13 of 16 swing states, and of the six states that yield results outside the margin of error, John Kerry leads in every one. The polling trends also favor Kerry: His numbers improved in three quarters of the states surveyed since Zogby's last battleground poll in late September.

In its write-up of Zogby's results, the The Wall Street Journal does something novel: The paper admits that other polls contradict the one it paid for. "Zogby's numbers are just one snapshot of where sentiment stands," the Journal notes. "For instance, an electoral-college calculation by The Cook Political Report has the race about even."

And another round of polling controversy is brewing. This morning an AP story, "Kerry, Bush Have Trouble Wooing Catholics," has been getting a lot of attention from bloggers; Atrios took a swipe at Pew's polling of religious voters [pdf], pointing out that Pew's three subcategories of religious affiliation -- White Protestant, White Catholic, and secular voters -- seem a little exclusive.

War Room asked Michael Dimock, Pew's Research Director, why the organization chose to leave out minority religious voters. His answer was that unlike white voters, minority voters tend to cast their ballots more along racial than religious lines. In other words, African-American and Hispanic voters -- whether religious or not -- tend to vote Democratic, as do secular white voters. Christian white voters, however, are a different story, with white Protestants favoring Bush 60-30, and white Catholics giving Bush a 49-33 advantage.

Dimock concedes that Pew's, and the media's, categorization of voters according to "religious affiliation" may be a little misleading. "I suppose it would be better labeled as religion/ethnicity combined," he says. But he argues that disaggregating white Christian voters from all religious voters serves a purpose; it reveals an aspect of Kerry's campaign, he says, that appears deficient. Exit polls showed that Gore lost the white Catholic vote in 2000 by only seven points, but Kerry is now losing white Catholics to Bush by 16 points, according to Pew's data. For a candidate who is a white Catholic himself, that's not an impressive showing. "Close to a quarter of the American population are non-Hispanic Catholics," Dimock notes. "A lot of people expected Kerry to come into the race with an advantage in Catholic support."

Jeff Horwitz

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