A Baby Bounce?

NewsweekA Baby Bounce?

Coming out of the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Sen. John Kerry now holds a seven-point lead over President George W. Bush (49 percent to 42 percent) in a three-way race with independent Ralph Nader (3 percent), according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll The poll was taken over two nights, both before and after Kerry’s acceptance speech. Respondents who were queried after Kerry’s Thursday night speech gave the Democrat a ten-point lead over Bush. Three weeks ago, Kerry’s lead was three points.

Kerry’s four-point “bounce†is the smallest in the history of the NEWSWEEK poll. There are several factors that may have contributed to the limited surge, including the timing of the poll. On Thursday, Kerry had just a two-point lead over Bush (47 percent to 45 percent), suggesting that his Friday night speech had a significant impact. Additionally, Kerry’s decision to announce his vice-presidential choice of John Edwards three weeks before the convention may have blunted the gathering’s impact. And limited coverage by the three major networks also may have hurt Kerry.

I wasn’t expecting a substantial bounce, for all of those reasons plus the fact that all the polls have been indicating that more people than usual have already made up their minds. Still, a four-point gain from a national convention, during which one’s opponent intentionally stayed out of the news and off the airwaves, is stunningly small. It will be interesting to see if the post-Thursday respondents are a trend or a mere sampling anomaly.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Laddy says:

    Given the Newsweek poll was of adults over 18 and not registered or even likely voters, it almost certainly overstates the bounce. Polls of adults instead of likely voters skew left. There is no breakdown of the percentages of registered and/or likely voters. There is also no breakdown of the percentages of Dems, Repubs, and Ind sampled. In the past this type of poll has contained as many as 20% unregistered voters. The Rasmussen tracking poll shows Kerry’s lead going from 48-45 down to 47-46, a negative bounce.

  2. Moe Lane says:

    I’d disagree with that last bit: Rasmussen’s polls have at least a 3 point margin of error, and the two candidates have been both within it for, like, months now. So, if Rasmussen’s polls are to be believed, the convention had roughly zero short term effect on the election…