Saturday, October 16
Election diary:
Tom Carver, The Independent, 17 October 2004

After Wednesday's debate, a Republican journalist confided to me that he thought Kerry was going to win the election. To my surprise, he didn't seem upset by the idea.

"A lot of Republicans would like to see the smile wiped off Karl Rove's face," he confessed.

The smugness in this White House has irritated many Republicans for a long time, but before this week they would not have dared to express their irritation out loud. However, a lot of Bush people now seem to feel that they could sleep at night if Kerry became President.

An indicator that the Bush camp is worried: Rove, Karen Hughes and others are suddenly willing to talk to journalists. In the past few days they have been making regular forays into the centre for the travelling band of national newspaper and network press, a group they usually scorn in favour of the more malleable local media on the road.

I asked Karen Hughes this week how the President could get re-elected with an approval rating under 50 per cent. "These polls go up and go down," she said. "The only poll I believe in is the one on 2 November." That's the kind of thing spinners say when they have no more bullets left.

• The record voter-registration levels being recorded by most states is playing havoc with the opinion polls. People who have just registered are not on the lists of registered voters that the polling companies use to call people to find out who they're supporting. So the result on 2 November could be as much as five or six points out - in either direction. The Democrats believe that a higher turnout helps them more, because the politically apathetic are more likely to vote out an incumbent in a poor economy and because the apathetic are often the poor who favour Democrats. Mike McCurry, one of Kerry's savviest political operatives, claimed to me this week that 180,000 more Democrats than Republicans had registered in Cleveland, Ohio - enough to deliver the state. [...more]

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