Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Hail to the Undecideds

Confirming my previous comments on undecided voters, 18% of respondents to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll said they might still change their minds, with 7% saying there was a good chance they would. With the headline figures 48-48 among "likely voters," that leaves plenty of room for movement in the figures.

This is clearly much smaller than in 2004, which is natural considering we have an incumbent president and people have had four years to form opinions about him. But it is farfetched to conclude from this, as many pundits have, that the candidates have no great need to convince the undecided and can just focus on turning out their base supporters.

The best proof of this is the Republican convention, which (unlike in, say, 1992) is deliberately showcasing the party's moderates and emphasizing its appeal to Democratic crossovers. If there are no undecided voters left, why not pump up Bush's conservative creds?

Soccer Dad links to an early-August column by pollster John Zogby, explaining why Kerry's convention bounce was minimal. It reads today like, well, yesterday's news. He wrote, inexplicably, that "only 5 percent are genuinely undecided and only 3 percent of each candidate's supporters say they could still change their minds." He forecast that the Republican convention would only bounce Bush "to a tie with Kerry." Funny, Bush managed that last week, before the convention even opened.

I think Bush's prospects this year remain excellent, especially considering Kerry's lackluster campaign performance. Two months is a long time, though. The undecideds will still determine this race.

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