April 22, 2004

Zogby: I think this election is John Kerry's to lose.

2+2=4...At least for John Zogby...Here is a rare
reality-check in one of the US's two most important
newspapers...And remember, you wouldn't know it if you
were watching the TV and radio network news
broadcasts, but Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mekong Delta) is
leading in 8 of the 12 major national polls...

John Zobgy, Washington Post: First of all I think the
following red states are very much at play: New
Hampshire, Ohio, West Virginia, Missouri, Florida and
possibly Arizona. I think the following blue states
are in play: Pennsylvania, Oregon and Minnesota. There
are more reds than blues I think are in play this
year. As for New Mexico, even though it was very very
close in 2000, I think that both the growing Latino
vote and the presence of Richardson as governor will
probably carry the day for Kerry. I think this
election is John Kerryís to lose. Which is not to say
that he canít rise to the occasion.

Break the Bush Cabal Stranglehold on the "US
Mainstream News Media," Show Up for Democracy in 2004:
Defeat Bush (again!)


Recent Polls
John Zogby
Zogby International
Thursday, April 22, 2004; 12:30 p.m. ET

Are the recent poll numbers showing President Bush
ahead of Kerry a sign that his $50 million ad blitz is
working? How accurate are polls this far from the
election? What is happening in the battleground

John Zogby, President and CEO of Zogby International,
discussed the newest polling numbers, his data and the
2004 election.

The transcript follows.

Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain
editorial control over Live Online discussions and
choose the most relevant questions for guests and
hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer


Washington, D.C.: Your poll of 4/18 showed Kerry up by
three and this was one day before The Washington Post
poll showing Bush up by five. What gives? Are the
pollsters and pundits going to get it all wrong AGAIN
this election year!?

John Zogby : I havenít gotten it wrong. I have gotten
the presidential elections almost perfect. 1996 was
within a couple of tenths of a percent, I had the Gore
victory in the popular vote in 2000 and nailed almost
all of my elections in 2004 Ė the primaries. I donít
think that you should look at pinpoint precision, I
think you should look at how close the polls are to
each other. If you look at mine and the other two we
are all in the margin of error.


New York, N/Y.: When a polls margin of error is plus
or minus 3 percent, what exactly does this mean? For
example, a poll says Bush 48 Kerry 45, does it mean
that Kerry could be at 48 and Bush at 45 or can Kerry
be at 43 with bush at 51?

John Zogby : You are right, it actually means both.
The person with 48 percent can be at plus or minus
three, same with the person at 45 percent. So
translated, it can be as much as a six point spread.


Baltimore, Md. : Part of the reason for Kerry's poll
drop might be the fading of the economy as an issue,
with Iraq dominating the news and reports of job
growth and other positive economic signs. But what
evidence is there that the economy remains a major
problem for the president, especially in crucial
Midwestern swing states (like Ohio), where job losses
have been heavy and recovery is slow?

John Zogby : The premise that you start with I think
is wrong because my poll has Kerry ahead with no drop.
My poll also indicates that the economy by 10 points
is the number one issue Ė 30 percent. When voters say
the economy is the issue, they are not saying because
it is good. I still have one in five voters who tell
me that they are afraid of losing a job in the next 12
months and one in four voters in households earning
$75,000 or more. Voters donít measure their lives in
trillions and billions of dollars. Essentially the
economy will be a major issue in this campaign and
offer Kerry an opportunity in some of the battleground
states like Ohio, Missouri, West Virginia, etc.


Key West, Fla.: Dear Mr. Zogby:
First, let me say that since the 2000 Presidential
Election you are the only pollster that I trust. You
stated that Gore would win the popular vote and you
were right. Personally, I think that Gore won Florida
but that's a different matter. Here is my two-part
question: What states did President Bush win in 2000
that John Kerry has a decent chance to win and what
states did Al Gore win in 2000 that President Bush has
a decent chance to win? Also, I realize that the
election is six months away but if you were a betting
man who do you think is going to win and why? Thanks

John Zogby : Good questions. First of all I think the
following red states are very much at play: New
Hampshire, Ohio, West Virginia, Missouri, Florida and
possibly Arizona. I think the following blue states
are in play: Pennsylvania, Oregon and Minnesota. There
are more reds than blues I think are in play this
year. As for New Mexico, even though it was very very
close in 2000, I think that both the growing Latino
vote and the presence of Richardson as governor will
probably carry the day for Kerry.

I think this election is John Kerryís to lose. Which
is not to say that he canít rise to the occasion.


Stockton, Calif.: How long does an event or series of
events generally take to make a noticeable effect on
the candidates' standings in natonal polls? Is it
immediate or is there lag time? (Examples: large buys
on television; major players testifying before a
commission; capture or death of important enemy

John Zogby : Good point. I operate by a 48-hour rule.
Unless itís a Kennedy assassination or 9/11, which
would have an immediate effect, most other events
generally take 48 hours to gestate. Meaning it takes
that long to talk about it, see the talking heads,
discuss it at the water cooler or hairdresser. With
that said I think you are going to see very little
fluctuation from now to Nov. 2nd. I think we are
evenly polarized, pretty hardened and I think there
are pretty few swing voters out there.


Mt. Lebanon, Pa.: Ralph Nader -- a man rising in the
polls and raising money. But during the recent months
the media circus said he wouldn't be a factor this
time and it was all ego and pathos. Cue the clowns and

Which is right here? A candidate on the move or hubris
and hooey?

And if momentum is working here -- did he get that
from the Deaniacs, third parties, his own base, or
working a philosopher's stone?

By the way, I'm a Vietnam Era Vet who contributed to
Dean and have now moved on to Nader -- not a Deaniac
by any means.

For your insights and analyses: Thanks much.

John Zogby : I think that both those arguments are
wrong. I think that what is making Naderís numbers as
high as they are Ė and it is 3 points in my poll Ė are
voters who are not with the Democrats who are on the
left, would ordinarily not vote. There is a fraction
of that 3 percent who want to see Kerry move to the
left. Nader will be on the ballot on fewer states, but
even if he captures only 25 percent of the vote he got
in 2000 he could still hurt Kerry in some closely
competitive states.


Concord, N.H.: John:

Have you polled on any aspect of a military draft

John Zogby : I have not, but here is what I think. I
donít believe any candidate will touch it with a
ten-foot pole. And I also believe that the greater
intensity is with the opposition to the war and that
could generate a higher turnout among 18-25 year olds,
especially woment.


Baltimore, Md.: Why is that your "brand" as a pollster
seems to get more respect from pundits and
politicians? Conservatives, especially, seem to hold
you in high regard, even though I am sure your
questions and methodology have no built-in bias. Can
you explain your credibility? Thanks.

John Zogby : Well, I think it is a number of things.
One is that I did have a reputation for getting some
very high profile races closer than many of my
colleagues. Secondly, even though personally I have
never hidden the fact that my politics are on the very
left, my numbers donít reflect it. That was enough for
people like Rush Limbaugh and others like Bill
OíReilly and Shawn Hannity to label me as honest. And
then, thirdly, I think some of it has to do with the
fact that there is a Zogby behind the Zogby poll. So
instead of the AJAX Polling Firm, there is a real
person and analyst who carries the same name as the
brand. I hope that answers the question.


Charlotte, N.C.: Have you done any polling in
battleground states? Can you tell us anything about
these states at this stage of the game?

John Zogby : I have not in battleground states,
however I have seen other polls and right now it is
razor thin in so many of them. Fior example Bush and
Kerry trade leads in New Hampshire. Bush is ahead by a
few points in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The two
are tied in West Virginia. They trade leads in
Florida. Etc. It is like that and I think it will
continue to be.


Mineola, N.Y.: The great journalist Walter Lippman in
his famous book "Public Opinion" discussed polling as
being potentially insidious because poll results can
actually affect public opinion as opposed to reflect

Do you believe polls accurately reflect opinion at a
point in time or do the impact public opinion? Also,
can polls be easily manipulated by one campaign or
another to impact news coverage?

John Zogby : Another very good question. In all
honesty I think we accurately take a snapshot of
public opinion. It is very much like a photographer
taking that snapshot of a moment in time. In many,
instances if not most instances, I think that the
snapshot confirms conventional wisdom. I donít think
you need a poll to tell you that this race is close
just as I donít think you needed a poll to tell you
that Reagan was going to defeat Mondale in a landside.
The good thing about a poll is that it grounds us. We
all tend to hangout with people who agree with our
views and then we extrapolate on the broader public
what we learn within those circles. Example: ďhow can
you say Bush isnít leading by 50 points, everyone I
know is voting for BushĒ Ė that sort of thing. I donít
think the polls impact anymore on how people vote than
conventional wisdom does. And even though there are
differences in the polls from time to time Ė for
example, Monday Ė I think anyway you slice it, this is
a very close race.


Brooklyn, N.Y.: Mr. Zogby -- last week CNN-Gallup and
WAPO-ABC released polls showing Bush with a 4-6 point
lead, while you (whose polls I put much more stock in)
released a poll showing Kerry with a 3 point lead.
Presumably, this does not come from the margin of
error -- how is your selection technique different
from the other two polls?

John Zogby : It really isnít very different. I use
listed telephone numbers instead of random digit
dialing. At times I apply a weight for political party
identification while at other times I donít. But
again, I think the polls are much closer to each other
than they are apart and I would ask this question Ė
after the two weeks that the president has had do
people really believe he got a bump in the polls?


Washington, D.C.: What do you think of sites like the
Iowa Electronic Markets that predict elections by
simulating stock markets? They claim to be more
accurate than polls -- is this right?

John Zogby : They were up until 2000 when they had
Bush leading by about six points. It is interesting. I
watch it. But we are all in this kind of business
humans, not gods. So we all have our moments when we
are right and unfortunately some moments when we are
wrong. But it sure as hell is fun playing this game.


Arlington, Va.: Do you see any difference in the
effectiveness of a candidate's own ads versus those
produced by an independent interest group like
Moveon.org? Is one type of ad better at swaying voters
than the other?

John Zogby : Needless to say, the 527 ads are
certainly more hard hitting, but in both instances I
think the ads are mainly reinforcement mechanisms,
meaning their greater impact is reinforcing support
among the base for each candidate. That is why you are
not really seeing any big bumps for any candidate.


Milwaukee, Wis.: I read your list of blue states in
play. What about Wisconsin?

John Zogby : I have a map right in front of me and I
think Wisconsin stays blue Ė- it is the economy.


Rochester, N.Y.: I believe you've done some
international polling, particularly in the Middle
East. Which countries do you find more pro-U.S. (or at
least less hostile)? Do you think the theocracy in
Iran has produced a pro American backlash?

John Zogby : Those are very good questions.
Unfortunately Arabs and Muslims are very alienated. I
am going in the field in the next couple of days in
six Arab countries and I donít believe I am going to
see any increase in favorability toward the United
States anywhere. If anything one might argue that the
numbers are a little more favorable to the U.S. in
Lebanon because of a heavier Christian population and
because of the significant number of relatives and
family members who are Lebanese and live in the U.S.
But lets not kid ourselves, public opinion of the U.S.
is down in Lebanon too.

I think it had produced a pro-American backlash until
Iran was labeled as part of the Axis of Evil and that
created a counter backlash.


College Park, Md.: You've received some criticism for
polling methods, particularly for only doing daytime
polling and for not calling back if there is no one at
home. What are the statistical differences between
your methods and those who do call at night and call
back? Why did you decide to poll the way you do?

John Zogby : That is so ridiculous. I donít do only
daytime calling. 70 percent of our calls are between 5
p.m. and 9 p.m. I used daytime calling to convert
people who are not reached in the evening and we do no
less than three call backs to people who have not been
reached initially.

Some of my colleagues have been critical and I have
been critical of theirs, but my methodology is sound.


Kalida, Ohio: Will the selection of Kerry's vice
president change any of the polling in certain
battlegrounds States? Example Richardson in New Mexico
and Florida. Thanks.

John Zogby : Sure, Kerry has to decide if he is going
to chose a running mate that will help him in a few
states or help him in complimenting or supplementing
an image. The Richardson choice could be a good one
which could help in Arizona as well. The Gephardt
choice, which I think would be the strongest choice,
could certainly help tip Missouri, Ohio or even West
Virginia. An Edwards choice would be more an image
choice and a decision by Kerry to run a national
campaign. So I donít see Edwards helping to carry any
southern state.


Fairfax, Va.: Could we see a reverse of 2000 in this
year's election with Kerry winning the electoral vote
and losing the popular vote?

John Zogby : Oh in this election you can have many
types of combinations like that. We are even more
closely matched blue versus red than we were four
years ago.


Columbia, Md.: What must Kerry do to define himself
with voters?

John Zogby : As he did in the latter weeks of the
primary campaign he has got to define himself in
bumper-sticker terms. I am a veteran. I can win. Here
is where I stand: one, two, there. He is a very bright
candidate and perhaps a bit too thoughtful on issues.
One comes away with a sense that he is very nuanced
and very philosophical but he needs to sharply focus
on who he is and where he stands.


John Zogby : Thanks for a lot of very good question.
Look forward to doing this again. Feel free to visit
my website at zogby.com.


Posted by richard at April 22, 2004 02:41 PM