Okay, Bush got a bounce, but ...
Two polls taken during and the day after the Republican National Convention (Time and Newsweek) showed large Bush gains. The Newsweek poll was specific enough to show that 6-7% of voters had switched from Kerry to Bush by the day of Bush’s acceptance speech and another 5% switched the following day.
But the Gallup and ICR polls taken just a few days later (the weekend following the convention) and the Zogby poll concluded September 2 all showed a mere 2-point bounce. And those polls all concluded before Labor Day, before public attention was directed to pro-labor activities.
Bush’s gains immediately following his acceptance speech are due in part to his performance in the speech. Perhaps his most significant accomplishment was something he didn’t do: the trademark arrogant Bush smirk was gone. He exuded confidence without arrogance, tightly tracing the very fine line that separates the two. Bush and his advisers are to be commended for accomplishing that difficult feat.
Bush accomplished that control of his subtle non-verbal communication very well in the controlled environment of a well-rehearsed speech. Repeating that performance in the less-controlled setting of the debates will be more difficult.
While many observe accurately that Kerry is campaigning very poorly and that his campaign is devoid of any principles, the electoral fundamentals still point to a Kerry win, in spite of Kerry himself. Electoral College analysis (the only count that really matters) still shows Kerry clinging to slight leads in nearly all of the battleground states and a solid lead in likely electoral votes. Moreover, trends in voter registration and likely voter turnout all favor Kerry, and may not be reflected in current poll numbers. More about that in a later post.