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September 28, 2004
Pew: Kerry Falling Away, Bush Up Eight

The new Pew Research poll shows that George Bush is maintaining his strong lead over John Kerry, as the Democrat can barely muster the baseline 40% that his party affiliation should provide:

President Bush's lead over Democratic nominee John Kerry increased to eight points in a Pew Research Center poll released on Tuesday, compared to a slight three-point lead in a poll conducted last week.

The telephone survey of registered voters showed 48 percent would vote for Bush and 40 percent for Kerry. A similar poll conducted from Sept. 17 to Sept. 21 showed Bush with 45 percent and Kerry with 42 percent.

Kerry continues to fall behind while Bush gains, extending his lead over Kerry by five points over the past week. The internal data of the Pew poll shows more softness in Bush's support than other pollsters have found, but the news could hardly be worse for Kerry:

The poll finds that Bush's gains in support are being driven more by perceptions of Kerry's weakness especially on leadership and other personal traits than by improved opinions of Bush. Fewer voters favor Bush over Kerry on handling Iraq than did so earlier this month (46% now, 52% Sept. 11-13). But Kerry's rating in the head-to-head evaluation on Iraq is no higher (38% now, 40% then). The Democratic challenger continues to inspire more confidence than Bush with regard to improving the economy, which 60% of Americans believe is in only fair or poor shape. But even here, the percentage favoring Kerry has not increased since the Sept. 11-13 survey (46% now, 47% then).

Despite Bush's lukewarm evaluations on the issues, he maintains a significant advantage on most personal traits. Kerry has slipped slightly on some key personal assessments, including honesty and empathy. Overall, 32% of voters say the phrase "honest and truthful" better describes Kerry than Bush, down from 36% a few weeks ago (Sept. 11-13). Bush's rating in that period is unchanged at 41%.

Pew also reports that Bush continues to gain among women (45-42), and significantly, shows strength among younger voters as well. Bush has gone from eighteen points down to six points in front (48-42) among the 18-29 demographic, one of the key support groups for Democrats. Bush also holds a ten-point edge among Catholics (49-39), another traditional voting bloc for Democrats. Bush leads in all educational strata, all economic demographics about $30k/year, and has a whopping 13-point advantage in battleground states (50-37).

The polling took place between 9/22 and 9/26, all of which came after Kerry supposedly launched his new Iraq policy (version 9.0). It looks like rather than reversing his slide, it may have accelerated it. Pew has a graph on their site which shows much more daylight between the two candidates than existed since the convention, and in fact may have reversed a mild recovery by the Democrats.

Democrats have labored under the delusion that Bush was riding a temporary bounce from the convention, but the truth is that Kerry has surfed downward ever since his. The electorate has finally gotten a good look at Kerry and have found him wanting.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 28, 2004 3:23 PM

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