'Super Poll' to be unveiled next week

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2002

You've heard of the Super Bowl in sports and Super Tuesday in voting. Now comes the "Super Poll."

A little explanation: Some readers of this column might notice my Web address is mtowery@insideradvantage.com. InsiderAdvantage -- we simply call it "IA" -- is a national information company made up of scores of political leaders, and business and media types, as well as retired experts in fields ranging from public

relations to the intelligence community.

IA posts online, cutting-edge national news and political leads to thousands of subscribers around the county.

All of this to explain why this column often goes out on a limb to suggest potential news events before they are known, or to give the inside story behind one that has already occurred.

The editors at InsiderAdvantage and I, as the company's nationally syndicated columnist, discovered an interesting fact that begged the creation of a major political poll. It is currently being conducted by a nationally respected research firm. The scientific survey, which we call the "Super Poll," will be unveiled in this column next week.

Our staff recently concluded that should George W. Bush's popularity remain high until the 2004 election season, his re-election bid will likely be compared to that of Ronald Reagan's in 1984.

Consider the similarities: Although Reagan had not directly defeated former Vice President Walter Mondale in 1980, he nevertheless defeated the ticket of which Mondale was a part. And, just like George W. Bush, Reagan was riding a wave of popularity, albeit after recovering from dreadful mid-term approval ratings.

Even now Bush is increasingly being compared to Reagan in his style and approach to the presidency.

Since few nominees from Jimmy Carter on have won the Democratic nomination without winning the Iowa caucus or New Hampshire primary -- of course, Bill Clinton was the exception -- it seemed fair to consider the concept of what an early combined poll of the two states might show.

Theoretically it could be argued that, despite the fact that Iowa is a caucus of "party insiders," and New Hampshire is an actual primary where all registered voters can participate, an averaging of the results of both states is indicative of the likely, ultimate nominee.

It is true that Iowa's contest is subject to intra-party games and New Hampshire is famous for its contrarian and independent voters. It could be argued that the two contests are apples and oranges.

But in 1984, an average of the percentages taken from the total combined events gave the ultimate Democratic nominee, Mondale, a greater percentage than that of challenger Gary Hart.

For fun, we tested the Gephardt-Dukakis battle of 1988, where Gephardt won Iowa and Dukakis carried New Hampshire. Again the states had disparate results, but the ultimate nominee, Dukakis, had the higher combined average of the two candidates.

Thus, the Super Poll was invented. And although we're more than two years out from the presidential election season, the early poll will at least tell us which candidate might have enough early momentum to challenge Bush in 2004. And, yes, we all keep in mind that in 1974, two years prior to the presidential election, no one in Iowa or New Hampshire had ever heard of Jimmy Carter. But there is value in knowing how far an unknown has to go in order to bet on an early leader. Equally interesting will be an examination of how much support the better-known Democrats might or might not have.

And there's one other critical component to the Super Poll. By 1984 the term "Reagan Democrats," those who switched their party devotion to support the GOP president, had become a household concept. The Super Poll will tell us just how many "Bush Democrats" there are in these two critical early states prior to the contests.

Yes, it's early, but the InsiderAdvantage staff prides itself on its slogan "Information Before It's News." Next week's column should certainly live up to that slogan.

There may not be a Britney Spears ad in the middle of it, but next week, for true political junkies, we will get to view the Super Poll.

Matt Towery writes a syndicated column based out of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. He can be reached at www.InsiderAdvantage.com.

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