The Note




Nothing annoys elite Republican supporters of President Bush's re-election more than the political media's disparate treatment of poll results favorable to their man versus those favorable to John Kerry.

In the view of BC04ers, polls suggesting progress for Kerry are allowed to frame coverage for days on end, while polls demonstrating incumbent superiority -- such as yesterday's ABC/Washington Post and Gallup numbers -- usually are barely allowed to pierce even the news cycle in which they first appear.

Unlike Bush-Quayle '92 and Dole-Kemp '96, the back-to-back presidential efforts of George Walker Bush follows two simple media rules: know the press is the enemy, and never let on to the press that you think of them that way.

But the BC04 campaign's strong sense that the press processes and evaluates the polls differently (and even favors flawed polls showing Kerry gaining over solid polls showing Bush thriving) tests the GOP's capacity to hold its collective tongue.

Anyone of even modest political sophistication viewed the President's improved horserace standing (and improved issues standing) in yesterday's two nearly identical polls as part of a simple narrative -- Bush's advertising and free media efforts have filled in a still-mostly-blank portrait of Kerry with lots of negative information (liberal, goofy, arrogant, out of touch flip flopper), overcoming the bad news out of Iraq.

We share the Bush concerns that polls should be covered prudently and equitably.

And there are lots of twists and turns that will occur in the "real world" between now and election day. Even some occurring as we speak, erh, type:

1. The Boston Globe's Mike Kranish and the RNC's Ed Gillespie are both spotlighting Sen. Kerry's refusal to match the POTUS release of Vietnam-era medical and military records. Kranish = must-read. LINK

Gillespie's speech in Ohio today to a GOP party meeting is expected to cleverly create a rhetorical link between the failure to fully disclose with the BC04 effort to make Kerry = Gore.

And Note how aggressive government official Dan Bartlett is on the record in the Globe story on the records release issue.

This morning, the Kerry campaign's Stephanie Cutter is contradicting the Globe headline about Kerry refusing to release more medical/military records. She says they will release "everything." They want have to have a doctor pore over them first, however -- "due diligence." Timing of the release is TBD.

2. Despite Powell's "good soldier" routine, addicts require post-Woodward polls to feel they know which way the wind is blowing.

3. The Kerry campaign's Earth Day gambit.

4. Dick Morris says Iraq is killing the President politically. LINK

5. Will the new Kerry fundraising ads in Blue States open a new stream of gushing Democratic money? (What is up with the Kerry on cameras in winter clothes!!!!????)

Let's briefly hear from four people who "get" the national environment in which all of this is percolating:

The Washington Post's Mike Allen: "Republican officials said that Bush plans to make the Patriot Act a central theme of his campaign to show his plan to combat terrorism and that he took specific action after the attacks. Bush has used the vote to portray Kerry as a waffler."

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