Thursday, May 22, 2003

Odd News: As this story makes clear, the official results haven't been released yet, but a new poll suggests that John Kerry would lose to Bush in Kerry's home state of Massachusetts. There are several reasons to doubt this. First, as the story also notes, this would require a shift of more than 20 points from a January poll. What has happened since January? Iraq, certainly, but even Zogby's polls show only an 8-point job-approval bounce for Bush since the war began. Second, even if Bush were showing a 20-point bounce nationwide, it would be reasonable to assume a smaller figure in heavily Democratic Massachusetts. Third, since details weren't released, we have no idea how the phrasing of this poll tracks with the one in January. They could simply be asking different questions. One thing going for this poll is that it claims to have questioned voters (but does that mean likely voters, or people who voted in 2000, or 2002?) rather than anyone who picked up the phone. Finally, Kerry has a track record of winning statewide elections, both as senator and lieutenant governor. Were he a regional candidate, such as a U.S. representative, such a history wouldn't be clear. But major party presidential candidates tend to carry their home states. The exceptions are remarkable, such as McGovern in '72. (Gore, in 2000, lost Tennessee -- but it was only nominally his home state, and it was still considered embarrassing. In 1992, Bush 41 ... wait, what was his home state again? He won Texas and lost Maine and Connecticut.)

At this point, given what little I know, I find the result highly questionable.

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