Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

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.

A couple days ago we noted Chris Suellentrop's mention of the 'Bush Pledge', the loyalty oath attendees at a Bush-Cheney event in Florida were called on to recite.

I've got a question: How often is this happening? At how many events? In how many different states?

If you can provide me with any details -- whether something you've seen yourself or from local press coverage -- please let me know.

Late Update: Later we'll also be discussing what they say about Kerry and Edwards at those Bush rallies before they let the travelling press in room. Today in Florida, Kerry the favorite of foreign terrorists. Or 'When the terrorists come to your house, who would you rather have on your front porch: John Kerry and his SNOWBOARD??? Or George W. Bush and his shotgun?' Or on a lighter note, jokes hinting that Kerry and Edwards are gay lovers. That, and so much more.

Received yesterday from a reader down in the <$NoAd$>trenches ...

Still in Florida.

This was one of the most moving, meaningful days of my life.

My job is to get people to the polls and, more importantly, to keep them there. Because they’re crazily jammed. Crazily. No one expected this turnout. For me, it’s been a deeply humbling, deeply gratifying experience. At today’s early vote in the College Hill district of East Tampa -- a heavily democratic, 90% African American community — we had 879 voters wait an average of five hours to cast their vote. People were there until four hours after they closed (as long as they’re in line by 5, they can vote).

Here’s what was so moving:

We hardly lost anyone. People stood outside for an hour, in the blazing sun, then inside for another four hours as the line snaked around the library, slowly inching forward. It made Disneyland look like speed-walking. Some waited 6 hours. To cast one vote. And EVERYBODY felt that it was crucial, that their vote was important, and that they were important.

And there were tons of first time voters. Tons.

Aside from some hassles from the Republican election commissioner ( … [ed.note: Here the letter writer describes various shenanigans intended to exacerbate the difficulties of waiting hours in line to vote. I’ve censored this detail to preserve the anonymity of the writer.], I actually had an amazing experience. No, actually, in a way because of that I had an amazing experience. Because these people know that the system that’s in place doesn’t want them voting. And yet they are determined to vote.

The best of all was an 80 year old African American man who said to me: “When I first started I wasn’t even allowed to vote. Then, when I did, they was trying to intimidate me. But now I see all these folks here to make sure that my vote counts. This is the first time in my life that I feel like when I cast my vote it’s actually gonna be heard.”

To see people coming out — elderly, disabled, blind, poor; people who have to hitch rides, take buses, etc — and then staying in line for hours and hours and hours... Well, it’s humbling. And it’s awesome. And it’s kind of beautiful.

Sometimes you forget what America is.

I think there’s hope.


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