In the polls

By Jeff Horwitz

Published September 23, 2004 6:57PM (EDT)

American Research Group released a slew of new polls today, one in every state. While some of the surveys were conducted nearly two weeks ago, ARG's results are the most comprehensive of the campaign to date.

ARG's results don't offer up a clear leader in the presidential race. Bush/Cheney '04 holds a lead outside of the margin of error in 17 states with 133 electoral votes, and Kerry leads outside the margin of error in 10 states with 132 electoral votes. While ARG still gives President Bush a 47-46 percent lead nationally, Kerry wins in the firm's electoral college projections: 270-253, with two states, West Virginia and Wisconsin, tied. In light of the lopsided poll numbers directly following the convention, ARG's results suggest September has been a good month for Kerry.

And while ARG finds the Democratic nominee does not hold the overwhelming advantage among women that Gore enjoyed in 2000 (the VP carried the demographic 54-43), among registered women voters, Kerry polls a respectable 50-42. Though that's not cause for elation in the Kerry camp, it's a lot more positive than the New York Times' suggestion earlier this week that women voters were breaking for Bush by a 48-43 margin. Because women are the largest voting bloc for Democrats, it's hard to imagine how Bush could win the demographic and not rout Kerry.

Finally, just as Kerry adopts a hard-nosed strategy of challenging the Bush administration's decisions on the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a Wall Street Journal poll suggests that Americans might be willing to listen. Though Bush's decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power still receives approval from a majority of registered voters, "just 40% said that 'removing Saddam Hussein from power ... was worth the number of U.S. military casualties and the financial cost,' while 52% said it wasn't -- the biggest gap in the year since the question was first posed."

"During internal pre-Labor Day deliberations, the Kerry team urged him to move away from an earlier plan to focus largely on the economy during the campaign's final phase, calculating that ceding so prominent an issue as the war to the president was a likely path to defeat."

"Still, an Iraq-centric campaign carries big risks for the Massachusetts senator. In effect, Mr. Kerry is shifting public attention away from domestic issues where he has advantages and toward matters where, for all the public unease, the president enjoys the most trust. Mr. Bush enjoys a 26-point lead on his ability to handle terrorism and homeland security. Mr. Kerry holds a 16-point lead over Mr. Bush on the question of which candidate could better handle the issue of jobs, and a 19-point lead on health care."

Jeff Horwitz

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