In the polls

Published September 2, 2004 7:44PM (EDT)

President Bush's job approval ratings saw a slight uptick even before the Republican Convention began, according to the results of a large Annenberg Election Survey [PDF] released on Wednesday.

"In polling conducted from August 9 through 29 among 5,146 registered voters, 50 percent rated Bush favorably and 40 percent rated him unfavorably. From July 5 to 25, the day before the Democratic convention began, 48 percent rated him favorably and 41 percent unfavorably." (The margin of sampling error for August and July was one and two percentage points, respectively.)

While Bush's handling of the economy gets only a 45 percent approval rating, "when it came to handling the war on terrorism, 50 percent approved in July and 53 percent did in August. But there was striking good news for Bush in the attitudes of the persuadable voters. In July just 40 percent of them approved of Bush's handling the war on terrorism and 54 percent disapproved. In August 53 percent approved and 42 percent disapproved."

Such changes in job approval ratings won't necessarily translate into votes, however, as the overall favorable ratings haven't budged much. "When you look at the final data on all these personal ratings," said Adam Clymer, political director of the survey, "it's almost as if the last five weeks didn't happen, at least to the country as a whole. Both candidates maintained their strengths, and their weaknesses."

So far the Republican Convention appears to have had nil effect on the race. A poll out today by the American Research Group that covered the first three days of the New York gathering shows Bush and Kerry deadlocked at 47 percent each, with Ralph Nader and undecided voters at 3 percent. Like the Annenberg poll, ARG's shows that the Bush administration has yet to persuade Americans that it knows what it's doing with the economy: "Forty-seven percent of Americans think the U.S. economy is getting worse and 52 percent of registered voters disapprove of the way Bush is handling it. The survey found 42 percent approve of Bush's handling of the economy."

But while Americans remain sharply divided about the race, parts of Western Europe appears to have reached sweeping consensus.

"In France," reports the Associated Press "polls have consistently shown that if the French had a say in the election's outcome, Mr. Kerry -- appreciated, at the very least, for speaking French -- would reap about 80 per cent of the vote. A poll commissioned by the German magazine Stern and published Wednesday had 81 per cent of 1,001 German respondents for Mr. Kerry and only 8 per cent for Mr. Bush."

By Jeff Horwitz

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