I Heart Zogby

John Zogby, who just a few days ago had Bush up by four points, has today released his latest poll results:

Democratic Sen. John Kerry pulled into a statistical dead heat with President Bush in a seesawing battle for the White House, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released Monday.

The latest three-day tracking poll showed Kerry and Bush deadlocked at 45 percent apiece barely two weeks before the Nov. 2 election. The president had a 46-44 percent lead over the Massachusetts senator the previous day, and a four-point lead the day before that.

About 7 percent of likely voters say they are still undecided between the two White House rivals.

While this news is good, but perhaps not great, there is even better news out there. Zogby himself had a few words about how the race is shaping up and the state of our nation:

In Mr. John Zogby's mind, there's little question that the electorate in the United States is divided into what he calls 'two warring nations' - one favouring President George W. Bush in the upcoming Nov 2 presidential election, the other siding with his Democratic challenger, Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts.

The increasingly sharpening divisions are over ideology - conservative versus liberal - and over the very core values of the American system, which has long prided itself on tolerance and magnanimity.

'Each side feels that if the other wins, it would be the end of the Republic,' Mr Zogby told The Straits Times during an overnight visit to Singapore sponsored by Reuters.

'Whoever the next president is, he is going to have to be, first and foremost, a healer - or at least someone who stops this widening, this deepening of ideological divisions in the US. The ugly thing is, this meanness has spilled over from the halls of Congress to Main Street, US.'

What Mr Zogby thinks of the American Republic's predicament matters - not just because he is widely considered to be one of the country's most accurate pollsters, but also because he has studied and taught history and the culture of societies.

It's not so much the arithmetic behind the statistics in polls but the sociology of respondents that matters, he said. That means it's the personal environment of the respondent that ultimately determines his or her political choices.

'Societies need to have sustained civility in their political discourse,' he said. 'Remember the election of 1800?'

His interviewer did not.

'Well, let me tell you,' the bespectacled Mr Zogby said. 'It was a bitter election, and Thomas Jefferson was finally declared the winner. His first exhortation to Congress was 'We're all Federalists, we're all Republicans, so let us proceed to bond, to heal our wounds'.'

That is Mr Zogby's way of saying that President Bush has been 'the most divisive president in modern American history'.

'Republicans and Democrats aren't talking to each other across the aisle,' he said. 'In Congress, they used to swim together, play tennis and racquetball, and they used to party together. Now they don't even know one another's names. The civility has gone.'

It has gone, in his view, because President Bush deliberately chose to ignore the 'creative centre' that traditionally energised American politics.

From the very start of his term in January 2001, Mr Bush resolved that he would go as far right as the political structure would tolerate. Unfortunately, the very tolerance that has signified magnanimity permitted Mr Bush to take his policies to unprecedented locations rightward.

'The danger of ignoring the 'creative centre' is that you then cannot appeal to both sides in the political and sociological game,' Mr Zogby said. 'That's why the next president has to be like Thomas Jefferson. The American political system simply cannot take any more of this push to the right.'

...'Polling can be uncertain only if you rely on statistics alone,' is Mr Zogby's riposte. 'That's why an effective pollster has to rely on culture, history and sociology. I repeat, polling is the study of human behaviour, not simply a sampling of people's preferences.'

That may well explain his success. His big test will come on Nov 2. In Singapore last Friday, he flatly predicted that Mr Kerry would become the 44th President of the United States[ed: emphasis added]. "

Well, there you have it. John Zogby, perhaps the brightest polling mind of our times has predicted that John Kerry will prevail. As well, he realizes just how divided this nation has become and what a horrid job Bush has done appealing to the left. It's just a shame more people won't see this story.
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