Poll Position

The battle is on to spin (or un-spin, depending on how you look at it) the poll numbers coming out of the Democratic convention, and bloggers are on the frontlines. At Donkey Rising, Ruy Teixeira takes issue with Newsweek’s new poll, which the magazine presents as an attempt to measure Kerry’s post-convention bounce. But as Teixeira points out, half of the poll was conducted on Thursday, before Kerry’s Thursday night speech accepting the Democratic nomination. And, predictably, the results from Thursday are markedly worse for Kerry than the Friday, post-speech results. Asks Teixeira, “What possible excuse can there be for presenting these data as measuring Kerry’s bounce from the convention, when the effect of the most important event of the convention isn’t included in half the data? ” We’d like to hear the answer, as well.

A second poll, conducted by Gallup on Friday and Saturday, shows Kerry now trailing Bush by 4 points among likely voters — a 5 point swing towards the president since the week before the convention. It gets even weirder though: As a poster on Daily Kos notes, the poll’s “internals” (the questions designed to measure the candidates’ standing on specific issues) look good for Kerry: Bush’s edge on handling terrorism was cut from 18 to 12 points, and Kerry is now trusted by more voters than Bush — 51 percent to 46 percent — to handle the responsibilities of commander-in-chief.

And there’s a too-cool-for-school kind of blogger-tiff going on between two of the giants of the field, Atrios and Kaus. It started when Atrios noted that “Kaus (who I met, annoyingly), is apparently voting for Kerry even though he hates him.” From there, he argued that for many pundits (he also mentioned New York Times columnist David Brooks, and blogger Andrew Sullivan) “their public writings are to a great degree a pose. The only way to hold onto your reputation as being something other than a partisan hack is to make sure to provide enough public statements to back that up.”

Kaus’ initial response — “I clearly charmed Atrios at that blogger party in Boston!” — seems appropriately faux-casual, but he can’t resist adding a little junior-high style dig: “It’s always hard to distinguish those with genuinely ambivalent or heterodox or nuanced or muddled views from those who are just positioning … But I wouldn’t think this is a distinction Kerry supporters, of all people, would want to encourage.” Meow!

Meanwhile, on her new blog “The Green Pass” (who came up with that name?), Zoe Vanderwolk goes after the New York Times for an “incredibly unfunny” op-ed which played on Alexandra Kerry’s now-famous hampster-CPR anecdote. It’s no laughing matter to Vanderwolk. Sounding oddly like some journo-scolds we know (who was she hanging out with last week?), she declares, “This is why everyone knows Theresa said ‘Shove it,’ but people can’t put two words together about Kerry’s healthcare plan.”

And finally, Hugh Hewitt draws our attention to “one of the most revealing outbursts from the left in months.” Apparently, a “paranoid” Howard Dean, “speaking for the Moore wing of the Dems,” told CNN yesterday: “I am concerned that every time something happens that’s not good for President Bush, he plays this trump card, which is terrorism. … It’s just impossible to know how much of this is real and how much of this is politics, and I suspect there’s some of both in it.” Sounds like a loopy conspiracy theory to us.

Zachary Roth

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Zachary Roth is a contributing editor to The Washington Monthly. He also has written for The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, and Talking Points Memo, among other outlets.