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Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Kerry Vs. Bush Among Persuadable Voters and Independents

Just-released Annenberg Election Survey data indicate that Kerry is making progress among persuadable voters and independents, who continue to be very critical of Bush.
For example, Kerry had a 7 point lead (37-30) among persuadable voters (undecideds or those who favor a candidate, but say they might change their mind) in early June as the candidate who was rated higher on “cares about people like me”. Now he has a 41-27 lead.
Where Bush had advantages on candidate characteristics in early June, a number of these advantages have dimished–for example, on personal likeability and experience. And Bush had a tie on “shares my values” which has now turned into a small Kerry lead. Perhaps most intriguingly, Bush used to have an advantage on “says one thing, does another”, but now Kerry has the advantage–more of these voters now think that phrase applies to Bush than think it applies to Kerry.
Independents generally favor Kerry over Bush by more than persuadables and on more characteristics (for example, “inspiring”, “trustworthy” and ” has the right experience to be president”). Independents also give Kerry a large advantage in favorability ratings–he gets a 41 percent favorable/31 percent unfavorable rating, for a net of +10, while Bush gets a net rating of -3 (42/45). And Cheney gets a net of -17 (29/46) while Edwards is +18 (38/20).
On a number of other measures, both independents and persuadable voters are quite negative about Bush and the results of his policies, with persuadables tending to be particularly negative. For example, persuadable voters overwhelmingly believe the country is off on the wrong track (55 percent), rather than going in the right direction (31 percent). They don’t believe economy is doing well (78 percent rate economic conditions as just fair or poor). And they give Bush just a 40 percent approval rating on the economy with 54 percent disapproval.
But it is on the war with Iraq that these voters seem most disaffected with Bush and his policies. They give Bush a dreadful approval rating on Iraq of 36/59 and, even on handling the war on terrorism, they only give him a 40/54 rating. By 60-34, they don’t think the situation in Iraq was worth going to war over and, by 67-20, they believe the Iraq war has increased, not decreased, the threat of terrorism.
They also overwhelmingly believe that Bush does not have a clear plan for bringing the Iraq war to a successful conclusion (69-23). Unfortunately, they strongly feel that Kerry doesn’t have a clear plan for concluding the Iraq war either (54-15). And I’d have to say the Democratic convention so far has likely failed to change that opinion.
If I was Kerry, I wouldn’t wait ’til October to try to bring some clarity to this issue. The future is now: persuadables and independents are waiting.

32 comments on “Kerry Vs. Bush Among Persuadable Voters and Independents

  1. Matt on

    One question on national security issues: Kerry is stating that President Bush has not made the country safer and that his aggressive actions have made the world hate us and made it more dangerous for the US. When exactly did the bombing of the World Trade Center, the attack on the USS Cole, and 9/11 take place? Before we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, correct? What in the US has been attacked after that? Hmmm. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Democrats could argue with ideas rather than appealing to emotions and hoping noone notices…..

  2. Andy on

    Guys, Bob is right. We’re getting overly paranoid about this stuff. I mean, do you really think a Republican running for election would really put the nation’s security at risk by playing games with terrorists to deliver him an election?
    I mean, that would be about as likely as Ronald Reagan trading arms to terrorists in exchange for hostages.
    Oh, wait…

  3. Doofus on

    Frenchfries: I totally agree with you that Kerry should be cautious about laying a detailed plan for Iraq. Bush and his people are just salivating, hoping and waiting for him to do that, so they can pounce on it with all their stinkin’ might. Iraq is a quagmire, and anyone who doesn’t have to shouldn’t offer his or her prescription for “fixing it” until or unless they have to. And Kerry doesn’t “have to” until or unless he wins. It’s a tar baby, and he needs to steer clear for now.

  4. Carswell on

    Kerry and Bush, by necessity, have the same plan for Iraq, bumble through, hope things turn out alright. We are not in the drivers seat over there, we’re being taken for a ride and holdin’ on. Just hopin’ things turn out alright is a very precarious position to be in especially since we’ll be sittin’ there when Israel destroys Iran’s nuclear facilities within a year. So, basically, to ask what either candidate will do with Iraq is not the question, it’s what are they going to do when Iran goes literally ballistic on the region.

  5. Lawrence on

    Bob, I didn’t mean that you were off-thread, but that you seem to think we’re calling Bush a fascist, when all we’ve said on this thread is that 1) there was a lot of hanky-panky in florida in 2000, 2) Bush’s national guard service was rather spotty and doesn’t begin to measure up to Kerry’s war record. and 3) ‘regular guy’ is not a really good description of his background.
    I know that the right thinks that progressives like us say “evil bushitler lied we died” all the time (since I see that plastered all over right wing blogs as their idea of left wing rhetoric), but it just ain’t so. Sorry to disappoint you – our discussions are considerably milder and not nearly as exciting as right wing rageaholics like the Rottweilers…

  6. Doofus on

    (Sorry, “Frenchfries,” but I must feed the troll one more time):
    Bob wrote: “But keep in mind that documentaries these days aren’t “Lions of the Serengeti.” They’re purely propaganda. Have you seen “Journeys with George?” It’s a documentary about the 2000 campaign. W doesn’t seem like a ruthless fascist there, so we’re tied. One documentary to one.”
    Bob, you appear to be the King of Strawmen. No, not ALL documentaries are “purely propaganda” these days. Just the ones that are. And “Unprecedented” is not. I did see “Journeys With George,” and if I had ever taken the view that Bush IS a “ruthless fascist,” that wouldn’t necessarily affect my opinion one way or the other. I’m told that even Hitler had his charming side, and certainly Bush’s charm comes across in that movie. But a critic could say, with some justification, that it was too easy on him, didn’t ask him enough tough questions. And, for that matter, this is critique that can be made of the mainstream media generally about Bush in the 2000 campaign: they were as easy on him in their coverage as they were tough on Gore. (Must have something to do with the family name and Bush’s well-deserved reputation for freezing our reporters who ask questions he doesn’t like.)

  7. john on

    Don’t go, Bob. It’s a big tent, and one big country. I’ll try to stay on topic and not chase strawmen. But you needn’t flee.
    ON topic- Tonight, Mr. Kerry needs to state succinctly that he followed his Commander-in-Chief in supporting the war in Iraq, but has differed with him on:
    (a) how it (and the global war on terror, including in Afghanistan) has been prosecuted, particularly in post-war planning and implementation (too few troops, abysmal civil reconstruction plans — who was Jay Garner and what was he doing in Kuwait all of that time?);
    (b) how it has been funded:
    (c) how we were worked with the international community.

  8. Lawrence on

    I agree that detailed programs are not called for here. I think a large part of W’s problem in Iraq is precisely that nobody can see how we will be able to get out. The more the situation fails to improve, the clearer this is. So, Kerry shouldn’t be harmed by a perception that he doesn’t have a “way out”. Nobody does!

  9. Frenchfries on

    And I start by agreeing with heroedotus: Like him I don’t think that Kerry can just lay out “a plan” for Iraq other than carefully making clear that he wouldn’t rush things like Bush and would try to bring other countries in to shoulder the burden. I think it’s terribly dangerous for him to lay out some five point way to solve the situation there or something. Rove would exploit that immediately in countless ways.
    What do you think?

  10. bob on

    One more post, and “bob” is done for the day.
    Larry –
    As far as staying on topic, go read the first post — Ed began this tangent, I just chimed in.
    Doofus –
    I have not seen the documentary “Unprecedented,” which clearly makes me an uninformed, uneducated slug. But keep in mind that documentaries these days aren’t “Lions of the Serengeti.” They’re purely propaganda.
    Have you seen “Journeys with George?” It’s a documentary about the 2000 campaign. W doesn’t seem like a ruthless fascist there, so we’re tied. One documentary to one.
    Been a pleasure.

  11. Doofus on

    Bob: Your parade of irrelevant strawmen does not help your argument. I do not buy into any of them, yet I have no doubt that Bush stole the Florida election. There is simply too much evidence suppporting that claim (for starters, have you ever seen the documentary ‘Unprecedented”? I didn’t think so. The fact is that the republicans play dirty better than the democrats — just ask John McCain how he feels about the sleaze campaign that Bush and Rove ran against him in South Carolina in 2000.

  12. Lawrence on

    The internals that Ruy cites demonstrate, I think, that there’s an eletorate out there that thinks Bush is not up to snuff, but wants to get a better picture of Kerry before they will take the plunge. This is shown clearly by the gap between the 10 to 20% approval deficits that Bush faces on the issues vs. the 2% advantage that Kerry has been getting in the polls. And to-night of course is the big night (knock on wood here). But how can you give a one sentance, headline version of how Kerry would do a better job on Iraq apart from saying “I would go get some HELP!!!”
    Bob, please note the difference between what we’re actually discussing here, and what you tell us we’re saying.

  13. bob on

    Doofus –
    Yes, the Florida 2000 recount was a debacle. And W does have “brown shirts” ready to enforce his will as Al Gore put it. By the way, the Supreme Court was on the take in 2000. And — not only did we know about Pearl Harbor in advance, we knew about 9/11, too. Bush knows exactly where Bin Laden is, and he’s waiting for the right time to pull him out of his cave for all to see.
    Bigfoot would have voted in the 2000 election (he was registered in Florida) but he was turned away at the polls because the Bushies knew his intended vote for that tree hugger Nader would actually go to Gore (Bigfoot does not handle the punch-card system well.)
    You know what? The far-left, fringe, hardcore Liberal crazies are driving the Democratic party if any of those made sense to you. Things aren’t as good as the Right sees it, but we definitely don’t have a ruthless dictator in the White House — as the Left sees it. Have a little faith in your country.

  14. Tripp on

    “President Bush is a regular guy… just like any one of us.”
    Just because you repeat things over and over doesn’t make them true.
    Personally. I was born to a lower middle class family, went to a state school, and have worked my way up to where I am. I’ve never done coke, I’m not an alcoholic, and I don’t get the entire month of August off work.
    So who is more ‘regular,’ me or Bush? I guess it doesn’t matter, because most regular people are starting to understand that Bush is NOT a regular guy… just like any one of them. Check the polls.

  15. Lawrence on

    “President Bush is a regular guy…just like any one of us.”
    Yeah – his grandfather was a millionaire senator, just like mine. His father is a millionaire ex-president, just like mine. He went to Andover, Yale, and Harvard, just like me. And, like so many americans, he borrowed a hundred grand from his uncle to try and start a business, failed to make a profit, and then got bought out by friends of his father and appointed an excutive of that company – a real typical american up-by-your-bootstraps story that warms all of our hearts.
    Face it, Bob, W slid through the Vietnam war like a typical rich kid, and Kerry actually went there and put himself in harms way, and nothing you say can change that.
    P.S., you ought to realize that Ronald Reagan and W have never given you the smaller government or the significant tax break (unless I’m mistaken and you make more than 200 thousand dollars a year) they have been promising you for 24 years now, and have in fact given you much larger government and effectivly raised your tax rate by increasing the debt service portion of the federal budget from 3% under Carter to 12% now. In other words, you are personally paying the interest payments on money borrowed to pay for tax breaks for large corporations.
    Still feel that the Republican party is better for you?

  16. Doofus on

    Bob wrote: “But if you’re one of the nuts that believes that Bush will invoke some sort of terrorist attack during the election to suppress voter turnout, and guaranteeing him another four years… There used to be a word for people who thought this way: “crazies.””
    Bob, I would have never have thought an American presidential candidate would crave the office so much that he would pull every strong-arm, ruthless trick in the book to ensure that he won an election. But in 2000 and thereafter, in Florida, I learned that Bush and his machine did just that. Legitimate voters were purged from voting rolls as “felons,” late absentee ballots favoring Bush were counted, votes disappeared, and Republican operatives (virtually all from the staffs of GOP elected representatives such as Tom DeLay) masqueraded as citizen “protestors” to successfully intimidate and shut down the Miami-Dade vote recount. Bush and his people engaged in these highly questionable, if not illegal activities, and then let the Supreme Court formally hand them the election. Therefore, I’m sad to say that I do NOT put it past them to engage in some truly questionable activities to ensure reelection. It is not, in fact, that big of a stretch.

  17. bob on

    Frenchfries –
    See my earlier post about extraordinary claims demanding extraordinary proof.
    A bit of “bob” perspective:
    I deeply support W, but I won’t be crushed if he loses. The election process is part of what makes America great. The American people will decide who they want in the White House. But if you’re one of the nuts that believes that Bush will invoke some sort of terrorist attack during the election to suppress voter turnout, and guaranteeing him another four years… There used to be a word for people who thought this way: “crazies.”
    President Bush is a regular guy… just like any one of us. That’s why so many people like him. I think history will judge him as a great President — that he recognized the threat to each and every one of us, and acted decisively. Know that’s going to drive people on this website mad, but that’s just my opinion.
    The thing that will drive me nuts, if Bush loses, is the months and months of anti-war celebrity and Michael Moore gloating, claiming to have “rescued” America from another Hitler. Give me a friggin’ break. I might just pull an Eddie Vedder and move out of the country if that’s the case. Wait… he didn’t move out, after all.

  18. Ed on

    Ohio, Kerry ahead of Bush
    by Jerome Armstrong
    Jene Galvin, over on MakeOhioBlue.org, has a photo of kos and I while talking with Jerry last night up in the hall’s blogger roost. And speaking of Ohio, Kerry is up 51-45 in a two-way matchup against Bush in Ohio, in the latest USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll. That’s among likely voters, among all registered voters, the margin is 49-44. And if Nader is included, Kerry still leads by 5 percent. Anyway you slice it, Kerry is leading in Ohio. Florida (46-50, Bush leading) and Missouri (47-47, tied) are still very close, but Ohio is moving into Kerry’s column. Since Bush has fallen far behind in Pennsylvania, he can’t afford to lose either of these three states, without managing a takeaway victory from a couple of Blue states like Iowa, Oregon, Wisconsin, or Minnesota. How does Bush win if he loses in Ohio? Pennsylvania was the state that seemed targeted by the Republicans to offset Ohio, but with PA off the table, Bush is against the wall

  19. Frenchfries on

    Funny thing is, Bob, in your heart of hearts you know yourself that Dubya is a deserter who didn’t even show up for the National Guard. Don’t you?
    Thank goodness they now handed you that fine little fable about Kerry’s fabricated pictures to help you deal with the lurking doubt you had all year – that the Democrats could actually present a candidate who at least had the cojones to go to a war he wasn’t even fully convinced of.
    Did he do it because he wanted to be President sometime? Maybe, but he fought and he got smart and he returned and faced Congress. Was it all ambition? So what, he did the right thing.
    George Walker Bush (let’s stay polite) never had ambition. He didn’t have to. And hey, I don’t even blame him for being a draftdodger. Clinton was one, too. But Clinton also firmly opposed the Vietnam war and he said so.
    I bet George, son of George, was all for it. All for a war he didn’t have to fight. Maybe there’s a pattern..?

  20. Jay on

    Well, you’ve let Bob divert the topic of this thread; Let’s try to get it back on track.
    I feel it would be a mistake for Kerry to reveal any specifics about an Iraq plan at this stage. Anything offered, if it resonates with the public, could quickly be co-opted by the White House. (They’ve already done this to some degree.) Which would take the issue away from him.
    Not to mention, things could quickly change in the intervening ways, in a way that could make him look foolish. And that’s not indulging paranoid fantasies about the WH manipulating things in Iraq (or at least the news cycle and propaganda) to MAKE him look foolish. I think the time for specifics on Iraq is late in the game, in October.

  21. john on

    Drudge, Bozell, Coulter, Rush the Junkie, etc….fears of losing power (and belief that such power is divine right) makes for very strange bedfellows and perversions of truth.

  22. john on

    Bob: Why make it hypothetical? There are a number of well-groomed, slightly unstable men flogging that tale, as we speak.
    They compete for attention with Ann Coulter, as she seeks to diminish Max Cleland for whether or not he was injured in a combat zone by “holding a live grenade” (her snort means she doesn’t have to add the “dumb-a#$”).

  23. heroedotus on

    This is my first post on Donkey Rising, but I have read it for some time and find it to be consistently excellent. The quality of the information and the analysis make it one of the best poltical sites on the web. That said, I have to say that I just do not see how Kerry can lay out a clear plan on Iraq. Is there anyone out there who thinks they have a clear plan that would work? After what Bush has done it is like trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Iraq is now the ideal training ground for terrorists that Osama bin Laden could only have obtained by the incompetent policies of our idiot president, so it just is not possible to walk away from it. To do so means tremendous danger to us and the rest of the world. So the only possible soulution is a slow and patient attempt at stablizing a situation that is almost impossible to stabilize. If we abandon the arrogance and stupidity that have characterized the present administration, if we bring along the allies we have treated with contempt, if we make a convincing case to the arab world that we really do want to get out, then over time there might be a chance. But tell me how it is possible for Kerry to put that into the sound bite program that is required by our cowardly and ignorant media. If someone has an answer I would really like to hear it. I hope Kerry can say something more to point a direction for Iraq policy, but I think a clear plan is impossible.

  24. bob on

    You liberals were convinced that Bush was a deserter the moment it drooled out of Michael Moore’s mouth.
    Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof.
    Let’s play a game — I’ll use the “Bush is a deserter” evidence to prove that Kerry had a master plan to use his 8mm camera in Vietnam to create his “war hero” image for future political gain.
    Here’s the claim: Kerry isn’t a war hero. He killed a wounded, retreating Viet Cong soldier by shooting him in the back. The wounds he got by stubbing his toe a couple of times got him a purple heart and a ticket out of Vietnam.
    Here’s the evidence: I heard an obese, unshaven, slightly unstable man say so.
    Make sense to you?

  25. john on

    Dubya was soakin’ his fingernails in amber fluids — and not in ‘Bama — when he mailed in his paperwork. “Do as I do, not as I say”, anytime-anywhere.

  26. bob on

    Yeah, I’d love to have Kerry in the foxhole with me. Until he chips a fingernail and runs off to submit his purple heart paperwork.

  27. Carswell on

    Another good question, “Who would you like to have as President when the inevitable Israeli bombing of Iranian nuclear facilities occurs, sending the Middle East into a much deeper crisis?”

  28. Don on

    That would be a very good question, Ed. Not any doubt it would be Kerry for me.
    What about ALL the candidates who have competed for president this year?
    I’d have to go with Clark, whose a serious soldier, but my second choice would definitely be Kerry.

  29. Ed on

    I think a good question on some of these polls would be : WHO WOULD YOU RATHER BE IN A FOX HOLE WITH: “JOHN KERRY THE WAR HERO OR GEORGE BUSH THE CHEER LEADER?”


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