Bounceless in Boston

The initial results of the USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll conducted after the Democratic National Convention was so surprising, USA Today decided to extend the polling for an extra day to get what the paper called a “larger and more reliable sample.”

But that didn’t do any good for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

Kerry not only failed to get a bounce from his convention, the poll revealed, he actually lost ground to President Bush.

The paper reported that in the complete poll taken “Friday through Sunday, Kerry’s support dipped 2 percentage points among likely voters compared with the poll taken the week before the convention. Bush’s standing rose 5 percentage points.”

Gallup reported that Bush had led Kerry 50% to 47% among likely voters by the Saturday night after the convention. The week before Kerry had led Bush 49% to 47%.

In a CBS News poll taken Thursday through Sunday following the convention, Kerry gained no ground, standing, as he had before the convention, at 49%. (In this poll, Bush dropped from 44% to 43%). The ABC News/Washington Post poll, taken the Friday through Sunday after the convention, indicated Kerry got what the paper called “a tepid bump,” gaining 3 points among likely voters to lead Bush by 2 points.

Kerry’s inability to get a bounce out of his convention puts him in dubious historical company for a Democratic presidential candidate. “Since polling became a routine part of politics,” reported USA Today, “the only other candidate who failed to see any improvement in his standing after the convention that nominated him was George McGovern in 1972.”

McGovern went on to lose in a landslide to President Nixon.

Another bad sign for Kerry is that the Democratic Convention appears to have done more to stoke Republicans than Democrats. Before the convention only 51% of Republicans said they were “more enthusiastic” about voting in this election than they usually are. After the convention that number jumped 11 points, to 62%. Democratic voters showed only a 5-point jump in this category, from an already high 68% to 73%. Another sign that Kerry may now be inspiring increasingly intense opposition among Republican voters is that the percentage of Republicans who said they are “extremely” enthusiastic about voting in this presidential election jumped 8 points from 27% before the convention to 35% after.

Kerry is motivating the party base–it just isn’t his party’s base.