WASHINGTON — The exuberant cross-country campaign dash by Democrats John Kerry and John Edwards in recent days may have suggested they were riding a “bounce” in the polls after Edwards was chosen for the vice presidential slot.
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“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see a number of things,” Kerry said Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” “One is that we like each other. Two is that we’re having a great time on the campaign trail. And three is that we’re good for each other.”
But actually, very little has changed in the very close race between Kerry and President Bush.
Kerry strategists are trying to lower expectations for a quick gain in the polls that presidential candidates sometimes get after choosing a running mate or being nominated at their party’s convention.
Bush campaign aides were quick to raise expectations of a double-digit bounce for the Kerry-Edwards team by the end of the Democratic National Convention late this month.
No surge seen
Tad Devine, a Kerry strategist, discounted Republican predictions of a jump of 12 to 15 percentage points for the Massachusetts senator.
“We’ve gotten the bounce already that we’re going to get,” he said. “If you look at the Democratic vote, it has already consolidated behind John Kerry.”
Devine and Bush strategist Matthew Dowd both told “Fox News Sunday” they have detected slight gains for Kerry in national and some state polls.
Kerry has “gotten a slight uptick, whether it’s temporary or not,” Dowd said.
But those looking for a Kerry surge in the polls after he chose Edwards on Tuesday saw a shift of a few points, often within a poll’s margin of error.
An Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Thursday offered an early hint there would not be a post-Edwards bounce for Kerry.
Bush had a slight lead over Kerry as voters expressed increasing confidence about the economy, according to that poll. Bush was at 49 percent, Kerry at 45 percent and independent Ralph Nader at 3 percent.
Other polls in the next few days showed Bush and Kerry essentially tied in a three-way contest. Kerry had a slight edge in a two-way race with Bush in some polls.
As the deadlocked polls became public, Kerry campaign pollster Mark Mellman issued a campaign memo Friday cautioning he does not expect a bounce in the polls from either the Edwards choice or the convention.
Edwards vs. Cheney
Even though the race remains close, weekend polls found encouraging news for Edwards.
Nearly half, 47 percent, said in a Time-CNN poll that Edwards would make a better president than the current vice president, Dick Cheney, while 38 percent said Cheney would be better.
When people were asked in a Newsweek poll who they would pick if they could vote separately for vice president, they chose Edwards by 52 percent to 41 percent for Cheney.
Kerry’s announcement Tuesday that Edwards, a North Carolina senator, was his choice as running mate was followed by a tour of several states by the candidates and their families.
The Democratic campaign is releasing an ad this week in North Carolina, swing states and on national cable channels that shows Edwards, in a speech after his selection, praising Kerry’s leadership skills.
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