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Saturday, September 25, 2004

Has the Campaign Begun Yet?

Lots of people (including me) are pretty angst-ridden about the polls showing Bush 5 points ahead or so. But I think the truth is that the swing voters are just starting to pay attention. At this point, somewhere between 86 and 98% of voters are willing to say that they favor or lean towards one candidate or another. It depends a lot on the poll and how the question is asked: 2% undecided in Gallup (with leaners), 14% in Battleground (without leaners), and the rest in between, since mid-September.

But a lot of voters still say they might change their minds. In the Pew poll a few weeks ago, only 80% of voters say there's no chance they could switch. Specifically, 38% of non-Bush supporters say they're "definitely" not voting for Bush, and 42% of non-Kerry supporters say the same.

In the LA Times' 1996 exit poll, the last time we had an election with an incumbent, 29% of the voters said they made up their minds sometime after the debates.

LA Time 1996 Exit Poll
"How long ago did you finally decide how you would vote for president today?"

Percent Cumulative
Today 6 6
Yesterday 3 9
Over the weekend 2 11
During last week 4 15
After the presidential
debates 14 29
After the conventions 9 38
During the primaries 13 51
Before then 49 100


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