In the polls

By Geraldine Sealey

Published May 6, 2004 5:54PM (EDT)

The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll holds bad news for Bush, although you wouldn't know it from the headline on MSNBC: "NBC poll: Pessimism not sticking to president." That is what journalists call, in the lingo of the trade, "burying the lead."

Here's the real news: President Bush's support isn't as solid as we've been led to believe it is. From the Journal's analysis of the poll: "Four in 10 Bush supporters say they might reconsider their vote for reasons including the economy losing more jobs, events in Iraq growing worse or the president emphasizing conservative social issues such as banning same-sex marriage or abortion."

"Disapproval of Mr. Bush's handling of the economy, 53% to 41%, represents the weakest showing of his presidency. After months of high-profile discussion of job losses, the proportion of Americans who expect better times in the next year has fallen to 42% from 50% in January. By 51% to 40% voters say Mr. Bush's tax cuts were too large, while a 63% majority shrugs off recent stock-market gains as benefiting 'only businesses and investors,' not 'nearly all Americans.'"

"So far, Mr. Kerry has failed to capitalize on such numbers. In a hypothetical November matchup, he trails Mr. Bush by 46% to 42%, with independent Ralph Nader drawing 5%. The Democratic challenger does little better in a matchup without Mr. Nader, trailing 48% to 45%."

And here's an interesting tidbit from NBC's analysis: The gazillions of dollars and full-court press the Republicans pulled out to distort John Kerry's war record -- backfired. "The poll found that despite Republicans' questions, 77 percent of Americans believe Kerry served honorably in the military. In contrast, about half, 49 percent, felt Bush's service was honorable, while about a third, 34 percent, were willing to characterize it as not honorable."

Kerry also gets some not so great news in an Annenberg poll.

"Polling of 2,759 adults from April 15 through May 2 showed that 38 percent had a favorable opinion of Kerry and 33 percent an unfavorable view. That was a turn for the worse from the first two weeks of March, when 40 percent had a favorable opinion and 24 percent an unfavorable view  The shift was even more striking in the 18 battleground states where both presidential campaigns and some of Kerrys Democratic allies have run television advertisements. In those states, 35 percent now view Kerry favorably and 36 percent unfavorably. In early March the rating was much stronger; 41 percent had a favorable view and 28 percent an unfavorable opinion."

"The major consolation for Kerry in the data was that there had been a much smaller change, and one that was not statistically significant, in the numbers among persuadable voters: those who say they either have not made up their minds but said there was a 'good chance' that they could change their minds."

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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