Monday, October 04, 2004

All Polls Show Tremendous Surge for Kerry

From the Washington Post

"Debates don't always shake up a presidential race, but this one did -- and there are two more, plus a vice presidential debate yet to come. In the new NEWSWEEK Poll, Bush's 49-43 percent lead in a three-way race has been erased, with Kerry now ahead 47-45 percent.

"Electoral politics is a game of comparison, and the first appearance of the two men side by side -- one having a good night, the other a bad one -- did wonders for Kerry's image. His 'favorable/unfavorable' rating, last month a tepid 48-44 percent, rose to 52-40 (while Bush's dropped from 52-44 to 49-46). A whopping 63 million voters watched the Miami debate, and Kerry was scored the winner by 61 percent of them; only 19 percent thought Bush had won. Among viewers, Kerry overwhelmingly was regarded as the better informed and more self-assured. More ominously for Bush, Kerry was seen as the stronger leader onstage (47-44 percent) -- and even as the more likable guy (47-41 percent). Bush aides privately had to admit that it was a race again, understating the obvious."

USA Today calls it a tie:

"The race between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry has tightened dramatically since their first debate Thursday night, with the race now too close to call, according to the latest USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup poll. The poll shows Bush and Kerry tied at 49% each among likely voters."

The Los Angeles Times has the race tightening as well:

"Sen. John F. Kerry improved his image with voters who watched his debate with President Bush last week, but didn't significantly shift their choice in the presidential race, a Times poll of debate viewers has found.

"Although the debate did not diminish impressions of Bush on most questions, it did restore some of the luster Kerry had lost amid relentless Republican pounding since his party's convention in July, the poll found.

"The key question will be whether those gains will help Kerry peel away voters from Bush in the days ahead.

"Of those who watched Thursday's debate, more than three times as many called Kerry the winner as picked Bush, the poll found. The Democratic nominee also made modest gains with viewers on questions relating to national security and leadership. And the portion of debate viewers with favorable perceptions of Kerry increased from 52% before to 57% after.

"Kerry's most dramatic advance in the survey came in convincing more voters that he had a thorough agenda for the next four years. Asked which candidate had the more detailed plan for the policies he would pursue if elected, viewers gave Bush a 9-percentage-point edge before the encounter; afterward, they preferred Kerry by 4 points."

The Chicago Tribune sees "a campaign that has gained a renewed aura of competitiveness since the two debated last week on television.

"After the first, widely watched Bush-Kerry debate -- and heading into the second in St. Louis on Friday -- observers say the opener gave Kerry a needed boost in a contest in which Bush had enjoyed a late-summer advantage."

When it comes to the mess in Iraq, says Slate's William Saletan, Bush "offers himself -- and you -- a way out. Ignore the bad news, he says. Ignore the evidence that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs had deteriorated. Ignore the evidence that Saddam had no operational relationship with al-Qaida. Ignore the rising casualties. Ignore the hollowness and disintegration of the American-led 'coalition.' If these reports are true, as Kerry suggests, then it was all a mistake. How can we ask our troops to die for a mistake? We can't. Therefore, these reports must be rejected. They must be judged not by evidence, but by their offensiveness to the assumptions we embraced when we went to war.

"In Thursday's debate, moderator Jim Lehrer asked Bush, 'Has the war in Iraq been worth the cost of American lives -- 1,052 as of today?' Bush looked down. He recalled a woman whose husband had died in Iraq. 'I told her after we prayed and teared up and laughed some that I thought her husband's sacrifice was noble and worthy,' the president said. 'Was it worth it? Every life is precious. That's what distinguishes us from the enemy. . . . We can look back and say we did our duty.'

"That's how Bush judges the war's worth: not by costs and benefits, but by character. It shows our nobility. It shows we did our duty. He used the word 'duty' seven times. Kerry never used that word, except to refer to 'active duty' troops. Eleven times, Bush called the mess in Iraq 'hard work.' To recognize error would be to abandon that work and shirk our duty. Again and again, he framed the acceptance of bad news as moral failure. Will. Resolute. Steadfast. Uncertainty. Weakness. Supporting our troops."

Salon's Joe Conason says it's too soon for the Kerry team to break out the Champagne: "Stunned by George W. Bush's lackluster and peevish performance, his media claque had no time to recover to promote an effective line of propaganda on his behalf. On television and the Internet, the president's supporters were unable to conceal their dismay, instantly reinforced by the networks' polling verdicts. By Friday morning, conservative spin had devolved into excuses about his fatigue from comforting Florida hurricane victims -- and the official Republican and Bush Web sites weren't even claiming a victory for their candidate . . .