Michael Barone reports on a focus group conducted by pollster Peter Hart involving undecided voters in the Philadelphia area. The results seem encouraging because the participants agreed on a number of rather sensible propositions: (1) President Bush is likeable, (2) he performed well in the aftermath of 9/11 and continues to do a good job on homeland security issues, (3) at the same time, he is preoccupied with international and security issues and not that focused on domestic issues and individual want, (4) the tax cuts have helped and, to the extent the economy has been sluggish, Bush isn’t to blame, (5) Richard Clarke is disloyal and money-hungry, and suffers greatly in comparison to Condoleezza Rice, (6) the decision to go to war in Iraq is worthy of support, (7) but it should not have been based on WMD, inasmuch as we haven’t found them, (8) recent developments in Iraq are troubling, (9) John Kerry seems arrogant, and (10) Kerry seems to waffle on the issues.
Barone concludes that the election is “on a knife’s edge,” and, given the present uncertainty in Iraq, Barone is correct. But Barone’s piece suggests that Bush has the advantage and that the voters are shrugging off the media’s assault on Bush and keeping their eyes on the ball.
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