Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

More evidence of the small, but discernible Kerry trend in the final 72 hours.

As we reported in the earlier post, the Sunday CBS/NYT poll, which gave a three point margin to the president, was one of the oldest of those released yesterday. It had calls from Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Today, though, CBS/NYT came out with another poll. And this one has Bush over Kerry by only one point.

But that's not the most important detail. If I'm reading the polling analysis correctly, CBS/NYT took those first three days of calls (totalling 920 people) and added one more day of calls on Sunday. The total at the end was 1,345 people.

Since that one additional day moved the numbers two points in Kerry's favor, that suggests that Kerry's numbers on Sunday were very good.

Late Update: In the interests of completeness, the tracking polls today show a more muddled and slightly more Bush-friendly picture. Zogby and WaPo both went from a tie yesterday at 48% to one up for Bush today. Rasmussen went from Bush up 48.1% to 47.1% to Bush up 48.8% to 47.4%. (When he includes 'leaners', he gets Bush 49.4% to Kerry 48.8%.) And Tipp, which had been trending against Kerry, went from Bush up by 5% yesterday to Bush up 2% today.

It's nice to see the ridiculous Neil Cavuto, Fox News anchor, catching some heat for quipping that bin Laden was wearing a Kerry for President button in his recent tape.

It's embarrassment after embarrassment for Fox. Of course, the prerequisite, I guess, would be being capable of embarrassment. So, I guess not.

Feeling jittery? Don't be.

The main danger for Dems at this point is that they'll get knocked off their stride in their ground operation by sundry Rovely shenanigans and razzmatazz. In particular, I'm thinking of various hijinks meant to sap Dem morale.

Here's my brief for very cautious optimism for Kerry supporters.

In the last 24 hours 6 independent national polls have been released. (For the moment, I'm excluding tracking polls; but as of today they're basically a wash.)

Here they are, with readings for likely voters, not registered voters or final projections. (I've included a seventh poll, ARG, because their poll covers the same time period even though it was released more quickly) ...

Marist ... Kerry +1 Fox ... Kerry +2 NBC ... Bush +1 Gallup ... Bush +2 ARG ... Tied CBS/NYT ... Bush +3 Pew ... Bush +3

The best thing these numbers show for President Bush is that 4 of 7 show him in the lead. And his leads are a tad more sizeable than Kerry's.

But look more closely and you see things more favorable to Kerry. The first is that not one of these polls has the president over 49%. And still more telling, if you look at how I've ordered the numbers, it looks like I've arranged them from most Kerry-friendly to most Bush-friendly. But I haven't. I've ordered them by how recently they were taken.

All the Marist poll calls were made Sunday. Half the Fox calls were made Sunday. On the other hand, Pew and CBS stopped calling on Saturday. NBC and Gallup both ran Friday through Sunday.

With the obligatory caveat that the margins are small and within the MoE, the pattern is hard to miss. The more recent the poll, the better margin for Kerry. And in the two most recent ones, he's ahead.

So, on balance there's a movement in Kerry's direction, albeit one which is quite small because so few voters are any longer up for grabs.

Then there's the other issue -- turnout and the ground operation.

That is really the whole issue, as far as I'm concerned.

It's a general rule of thumb that the higher the turnout in an election, the better it is for the Democrats. That's true for a number of reasons, but largely because Democrats do better among 'peripheral constituencies', demographic groups that don't vote consistently.

If you look at the polls above, most of the ones I was able to find 'registered voter' numbers for actually had Kerry beating Bush, by equally narrow margins. That cleavage between likely voter and registered voter tallies means that the president's tiny leads rest on the pollsters' likely voter 'screens'. And that's where turnout and the ground game come into play.

Most of these pollsters have models based on a conventional election, not one in which turnout patterns move in one marked direction. (Folks like Ruy Teixeira argue that they don't even reflect the turnout patterns of recent elections, let along one with a spike in turn-out.)

Democrats and Dem-leaning groups have a massive get-out-the-vote operation this season. The Republicans have a big one too. But Democrats believe that their operation is light-years ahead of what they had in 2000. And it was the ground operation that won the popular vote in 2000.

After talking to friends whose opinions I trust, I *think* it really is that good. And the sizeable Kerry margins among early voters in Iowa and Florida lend support to that judgment. (See this too from Ed Kilgore, re: early voting.) But who knows? I don't know. And they don't either. No one really does. But if the Dems' ground operation is really as good as their people say it is, I think Kerry will win tomorrow. If he doesn't, we'll know they seriously over-estimated it's strength.

Finally, I've spoken to maybe a half dozen Dems whose opinions I trust at a gut level. And each of them has what I'd call a feeling of cautious optimism. For them too, I'd say it comes down to whether that ground operation is really as good as we've heard.

So am I confident, sure Kerry's going to win? Not at all. This is way closer than I would have liked. And I've always tried to be honest with myself about Kerry's stubborn inability to open up any statistically significant lead against the president.

But what I see right now is a incumbent president who can't get past 49% and a dead-even race that seems to be trending ever-so-slightly in Kerry's favor. And on top of all that I think -- for the reasons I noted above -- that the Democrats will win this one on the ground with a mix of better organization and greater determination.

As I said a couple days ago, if you're part of the ground operation, this is in your hands.

Wheels coming off the cart<$NoAd$> watch ...

Mr. Marshall:

One thing I have noticed is that John Kerry and the Democrats are great friends of the United Nations. I have also noticed that the U.N. is NOT a friend of Israel. How often has the Security Council of the U.N. voted against Israel ? They are rather the friends of those who wish to destroy Israel. Did you know that Bill Clinton wants to be the next Secretary General after Kofi Annen ? So then the question, is are you a friend of Israel if you are, as a Democrat, a supporter of the U.N. which supports the sworn enemies of israel ? ? Are you an anti-semite ? ? The Eugenics movement was the parent of both the "Holocaust" and the American Pro-choice movement. If it walks like a duck, has webbed feet and quacks like a duck, quess what, it's a ducks!!

Jeff B.

And in case you're wondering, Jeff B(...). has a name about as Anglo-Saxon as they come.

The second national poll released Monday, the Marist poll, has Kerry up by one among likely voters (Kerry 49%, Bush 48%) and tied among registered voters (48%). All calls were made on Sunday.

The final Fox News poll -- with calls on Saturday and Sunday only -- has Kerry over Bush 48% to 46% among likely voters. Among registered voters it's Kerry 47%, Bush 45%. Among those who've already voted, it's Kerry 48%, Bush 43%.

Fox has been releasing not a tracking poll, but a new poll every day for the last four days: Friday, Bush +5; Saturday Bush +2; Sunday, tied; Monday, Kerry +2.

Delightful. I'm looking at a flyer <$NoAd$>sent around Florida by an outfit called the Florida Leadership Council.

The headline reads: "First Day of School: Eighth Grade South Florida Middle School, 2007"

Under that is a class of school children wearing gas masks and beneath that is the following faux-AP story ...

(AP) Florida Red Zone -- August 14th, 2007 -- President Kerry warned parents and children in South Florida that mandatory radiation and chemical gear would be required to be worn "for the forseeable future" since the Suitcase Dirty Bomb terrorist attack on South Florida in the spring. The first day of school was chaotic, as teachers and school officials attempted to bring some ...

Click here to see the actual flyer with your own lyin' eyes.

A couple statistics stand out to me.

According to Gallup's mega-final-ultra poll out Sunday evening, 30% of registered voters in Florida have already voted, either through early voting or by absentee. Of those who have already voted, Kerry leads President Bush 51% to 43%.

According to the Des Moines Register poll out late Saturday evening, 27% of Iowa adults have already voted. And among those Kerry leads 52% to 41%.

Both numbers seem good for Kerry -- though they may mean a lot of different things.

But, as long as we're asking questions, if these are people who've already voted, shouldn't the number add up to 100% or close to it? Are the remainder folks who wouldn't answer? Or have they already voted but moved back into the undecided column? Or they've forgotten? Someone help me with this ...

Same old, same old.

Some group is South Carolina is circulating a phony letter, purporting to be from the NAACP, alerting voters that they'll be arrested at the polls if they have unpaid parking tickets or are behind in child support.

Here's the report from the AP and more from the SC Democratic party.

This stunt aimed at minority voters crops up every cycle. Here's an example we chronicled from two years ago in Baltimore.

This is but one example. But across the country, the Republican ground game is simple: prevent as many newly registered voters from voting as possible. It's really as simple as that.

Yet another example here from Ed Kilgore.