Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 19, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

NEW POLL RESULTS....The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll shows George Bush leading John Kerry 47% to 42%, which goes to show that either (a) those television ads were pretty effective, (b) the worse things get in Iraq the more people rally around him, or (c) something else.

As always with polls there's plenty of interesting data to play around with, but here are a couple of things that stood out:

  • Ralph Nader currently has about 7% of the vote. Of that, about 1.5% would vote for Bush if Nader isn't on the ballot and 4.5% would vote for Kerry. So let's not hear any more nonsense about how Nader's candidacy doesn't really hurt Kerry.

    Overall, though, this is good news for Kerry since Nader's support will certainly drop as the campaign continues, and most of the defectors will vote for Kerry.

  • About 40% of respondents say they "strongly" support Bush while less than 30% say they strongly support Kerry. This sounds about right to me. I think Bush has a rock solid base of about 40%, which means Kerry is going to have to win a lot of the independents in order to have a chance. But will the party activists let him?

Taken as a whole, the poll results strike me as bad news for Kerry. Aside from the obvious drop in headline support, Kerry also has surprisingly small margins over Bush in traditional Democratic areas such as jobs, the economy, and Social Security, while Bush retains his whopping lead in his traditionally strong areas of terrorism and Iraq.

As usual, there are also wildly contradictory views on Iraq, with majorities believing that "considering the costs" the war was worth fighting, but at the same time believing the number of casualties has been "unacceptable." Likewise, a majority think the war has contributed to long-term U.S. security, but at the same time believe it's left the U.S. position in the world weaker and has destabilized the Middle East. It's possible to come up with reasons why these views are actually consistent, but they mostly strike me as special pleading. A large chunk of the American public is obviously very conflicted about whether the war was worthwhile.

The Post's writeup, along with links to the poll data, is here.

Kevin Drum 7:52 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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