In its October 31 lead editorial, titled "The Osama Surprise," The Washington Post predicted that the recently released taped message from Osama bin Laden would "shift voters" toward President George W. Bush: "Maybe it [bin Laden videotape] was meant to shift voters away from the president on Tuesday; more likely it will do the opposite."
But the Post's own polling data suggests that, if there has been any shift in voter preferences since the release of the bin Laden tape on October 29, it has been in the direction of Senator John Kerry, not Bush. The last Post poll conducted entirely before the bin Laden tape aired (released October 29) gave Bush a three-point advantage, 50 percent to Kerry's 47 percent. The Post's most recent poll, conducted from October 27-30, showed Kerry and Bush tied at 48 percent. That's a three-point shift in Kerry's favor.
Two more polls conducted since the release of the bin Laden tape show a stable race or a trend towards Kerry:
• A FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll conducted October 29-30 -- the only national poll conducted entirely after the release of the bin Laden tape -- showed a steady trend toward Kerry, with Kerry and Bush tied at 46 percent each. The FOX News poll conducted October 28-29 gave Bush a two-point lead over Kerry, 47 percent to 45 percent, narrowing Bush's five-point lead from its poll conducted October 27-28, which gave Bush 50 percent and Kerry 45 percent.
Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman noted on October 31: "With less than two days to go, it is likely that any further last minute events will have little impact. However, it can be said the recent news of a bin Laden tape, while not necessarily hurting the incumbent, has clearly not helped him hold off Sen. Kerry."
• A Zogby poll conducted October 28-30 showed the race even with 48 percent support for each candidate; the previous Zogby poll showed them tied at 47 percent each.
Two polls that have surveyed voters since the release of the bin Laden tape have trended toward Bush:
• A TIPP poll conducted October 28-30 gave Bush 48 percent to Kerry's 43 percent, increasing Bush's lead by three points from its previous poll conducted October 27-29.
• A Newsweek poll, conducted October 27-29, gave Bush a six-point lead, but included only one night of polling since the bin Laden video was released.