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Bush’s Lead Holds Going Into Debates

New Gallup and Washington Post/ABC polls released today show President Bush continuing to lead John Kerry. Bush is up by 8 points among likely voters in the Gallup poll and by 6 in the Post survey.
The answers to some of the down-survey questions are brutal for Kerry. In the Gallup poll, Bush leads Kerry by 51-45 on the economy, 55-41 on Iraq, and 61-34 on terrorism.
In the Post poll, a plurality of respondents disapproved of Kerry, with 37% viewing him favorably, and 42% unfavorably. For a challenger at this stage of the campaign, that 37% approval rating strikes me as amazingly low.
And these are weekend polls, when Democrats normally outperform Republicans.
UPDATE: Reader Will Franklin links to the Post’s site and notes that “It has a neat feature where you can crosstab the polls to age and other factors.” I’ll take his word for it, since I can’t make it work. Will says that young people are “flocking to Bush:”

Younger voters, 18-30, have lower levels of unfavorable ratings than all other age groups toward Bush (33%, compared to 52% favorable).
They support Bush over Kerry by the widest margin of any age cohort (53-41).
For people 18-30 (regarding Bush): Approve somewhat+approve strongly= 54. Disapprove somewhat+disapprove strongly=39.
John Kerry’s lowest favorable rating comes from 18-30 year olds (33%).
Young people are the most satisfied (58-41) with the way things are going of any age group (overall, it is 49-49).
Young people trust Bush over Kerry by the widest margins of any age group (60-33).
Same with terrorism (59-35).
Same with “Strong leader” (65-25).
Same with “make the country more safe and secure” (60-31).
Same with “qualified to be commander in chief” (60-37).

Interesting. In some ways, the President whom Bush most resembles is Ronald Reagan. Young people were always Reagan’s strongest demographic. In this election, it may be that young people, who tend to be optimistic and confident by nature, are turned off by John Kerry’s defeatism. It may be, too, that young people have less solid connections to either party than older voters, and so view Kerry (and Bush too) more objectively.
Whatever the reasons, if the Democrats should lose the youth vote by anything like these margins, it could spell trouble for years to come.

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