Meet the New Polls; Same as the Old Polls

There seems to be a bit of a buzz over new Zogby Poll numbers that show the race is still tied.

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry is favored over President George W. Bush (47%-43%) among likely voters when Ralph Nader, Libertarian, Constitution and Green Party presidential candidates are factored into the 2004 presidential race, according to a new Zogby America poll. The telephone poll of 1011 likely voters was conducted Thursday through Saturday (August 12-14, 2004). Overall results have a margin of sampling error of +/-3.1.

A four point lead in a poll with a 3.1 point margin of error is statistically a tie, since it could just as easily be 46-44 Bush (or, granted, a 50-40 blowout for Kerry).

Meanwhile, WaPo blares “Younger Voters Rapidly Deserting Bush.”

Bush’s problems with younger voters began long before the Democratic convention, Post-ABC polls suggest. The last time Bush and Kerry were tied among the under-30 crowd was in April. In the five surveys since then, Bush has trailed Kerry by an average of 18 percentage points.

Virtually every other major poll conducted in the past month confirms Kerry’s popularity with voters under the age of 30. A poll by the Pew Center for the People & the Press released Thursday reported Kerry still ahead by 18 points among this group.

Taken together, those surveys suggest that if the election were held today, Bush would do about as well among younger voters as GOP presidential candidate Robert J. Dole in 1996. Dole lost to President Bill Clinton by 53 percent to 34 percent among 18-to-29-year-olds. Bush’s father split the young vote in 1988 and lost to Clinton by nine points in 1992. The Reagan era marked the recent high-water mark for the GOP with younger voters, who gave the Gipper his biggest victory margin of any age group in 1984.

Given that information, it is difficult to see how young voters are “deserting” Bush, let alone “rapidly,” given that they didn’t support him to begin with. Regardless, of course, several things should be kept in mind: 1) the young vote is already calculated into the head-to-head matchups, 2) the under-30 cohort is the one least likely to actually vote, and 3) the trend seems to be for people to migrate to the GOP once they get a bit older, presumably after having acquired a larger stake in society.

FILED UNDER: 2004 Election, Public Opinion Polls, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. The Monk says:

    It’s all about the Benjamins: once you have dedicated 6-10 years of your post-collegiate life to going from struggling to make enough money to not have to live off the parental or governmental (student loan) dole to then having enough money that you’ve achieved some moderate financial independence; at this point, you don’t want the blasted government sucking money out of your pocket like some aardvark that found an overpopulated anthill. You also don’t need dopes in Washington who can’t even balance their own checkbooks telling you how important it is to help those less fortunate with YOUR money after you’ve worked so bloody hard to actually get it. Thus, once you smarten up and get some experience in the world, the notion of voting for someone who suckles at the goverrnmental teat taking what you’ve worked so hard for to spread it to others who do the same becomes less palateable.

    You may safely infer that The Monk has some experience with this, although he was never much disposed toward the Dems to begin with.

  2. bryan says:

    Does Pete Townsend know you’re using a line from one of his songs? 😉

  3. torpedo41 says:

    I think the media just likes to contradict themselves. I don’t remember particulars, but haven’t there been a lot of articles on the return of conservatism to youth, especially on college campuses? Not enough to be “mainstream” granted, but enough to show that the “deserting” in droves line is just embellishment.