Thanks to Power Line and Instapundit for linking to this new Time Magazine poll taken during the final three days of the convention. Among likely voters, George Bush has opened up a double-digit lead against John Kerry with 60 days left to go to the election:
For the first time since the Presidential race became a two person contest last spring, there is a clear leader, the latest TIME poll shows. If the 2004 election for President were held today, 52% of likely voters surveyed would vote for President George W. Bush, 41% would vote for Democratic nominee John Kerry, and 3% would vote for Ralph Nader, according to a new TIME poll conducted from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2.
What happened to the bounceless conventions this year? Supposedly this year’s election featured an electorate so firmly divided that no one could get a bounce from a convention, and the only hope each candidate had was to avoid mistakes during the events. However, Time’s polling demonstrates that far from being obstinate in their choices, independents and moderates within the parties are still considering their choices — and that John Kerry’s campaign managed to stage the most inept convention since McGovern in 1972.
So what happened? Where did the margin-of-error contest disappear? Take a look at this laundry list of issues and the confidence that likely voters have in each candidate to address them:
* Economy — Supposedly Bush’s major weak point; leads Kerry, 47-45.
* Iraq — Bush leads now by 12, 53-41.
* Terrorism — Bush leads by over 20 points, 57-36, showing a complete meltdown among voters regarding Kerry’s ability to handle the most pressing issue this election.
* Tax policy — Closer than I’d guess, Bush leading 49-40.
* Strong leadership — 56-37 Bush, almost 20 points.
* Commander In Chief — 54-39 Bush, demonstrating that his experience trumps the old AWOL charges that have been made and discredited since 2000. It also shows that the holes in Kerry’s Viet Nam narrative and especially his post-Viet Nam antiwar activities have begun to erode voter confidence.
If the Kerry campaign looks for a foothold in this poll from which to rebuild, they will find slim pickings. Kerry leads Bush on health care by six points and “understanding people’s needs” by three, which is within the margin of error. Unless he can convince voters that health insurance and feeling one’s pain are the two most important issues in the 2004 election, then the election has already been lost.
Appearances like the one that happened shortly after midnight this morning in Ohio do not help the impression that Kerry has already lost his edge, either. Calling the current President “unfit for command” begs the question as to why Kerry, if he truly believes that, hasn’t taken the Constitutional steps necessary to remove him? He looks rattled, he’s using ad hominem attacks, and in all ways reminds me of the final two weeks of the previous Bush re-election campaign in 1992.
And what about the media and the punditry, who told us for four weeks that convention bounces were a thing of the past? It appears that this is yet another example of how their credibility, instead, belongs to a bygone era.