April 20, 2004


Hanging Tough: Despite Troubles in Iraq, Poll Finds Presidential Ratings Steady or Rising (Gary Langer, ABC News, 4/19/04)

Equally important as issue preferences are personal attributes, and here, too, Kerry fares less well. Forty-nine percent rate him as "honest and trustworthy," down from 59 percent last month. (Bush does better, 55 percent and stable.) Kerry's rating as a strong leader is down nine points to 52 percent; as someone who understands people's problems, down seven points to 51 percent.

Bush does less well on empathy — just 41 percent think he understands their problems — but that's unchanged. He does better on being a strong leader — 64 percent, essentially unchanged, and 12 points better than Kerry.

In three new measures, just 45 percent say Bush admits his mistakes — but it's the same for Kerry. Just 46 percent say Bush is "always truthful in explaining his policies" — but it's just 38 percent for Kerry (with more undecided). And 79 percent say Bush "takes a position and sticks with it," while just 41 percent say that describes Kerry.

Sticks with his positions: Bush: 79% Kerry: 41
Strong leader: Bush: 64 Kerry: 52
Honest and trustworthy: Bush: 55 Kerry: 49
Truthful in explaining policies: Bush: 46 Kerry: 38
Admits mistakes: Bush: 45 Kerry: 46
Understands people's problems: Bush: 41 Kerry: 51

This poll is as anodyne as any that preceeds the election by six months, but we can start to see themes emerge. The ABC slant on the poll is "Iraq is a quagmire, so why isn't the President tanking?" There are a lot of assumptions built into this, but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the American voters may actually be adults. Shocking, I know, but there you are. The downfall of these polls is always the pollsters unspoken assumptions, and here ABC is misled by its assumption that Americans hate military casualties most of all, and that stability in the mideast is a good thing. The idea that we might be willing to take casualties in order to destabilize the current Arab regimes never occurs to them.

We can also see in the poll that the marketing strategies of both campaigns are paying off. John Kerry is, relative to the President, seen to be a waffling, prevaricating wimp who admits his mistakes (lots of practice I guess) and -- here's where Shrum is winning -- understands people's problems. Can't do anything about them, since he is a waffling, prevaricating wimp, but he does understand them.

Posted by David Cohen at April 20, 2004 7:57 AM

He can understand my problems, just as long as he keeps his trap shut about feeling my pain.

Posted by: Random Lawyer at April 20, 2004 8:34 AM

Yeah, that last item raised my eyebrows. The guy seems so detached, to me. How can anyone who has watched him, even briefly, honestly believe that he understands people's problems?

And "Strong Leader"? Where the bleep is the record to support THAT position?

Posted by: Jim H. at April 20, 2004 9:27 AM

I'm sick of seeing all these polls list Iraq and terrorism as different subjects. Most the American people know that Iraq is part of the WoT even if the media does not.

Posted by: BJW at April 20, 2004 11:46 AM

Just wait until the American people get to know the real John Kerry.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at April 20, 2004 12:43 PM

And as the Divine Clintons showed (as well as Kyle's Mom from South Park), Understanding (TM) means never having to lift a finger to actually DO something about it. You can kick back in self-indulgence and pat yourself on the back for your Concern, Compassion, and Understanding (TM) 24/7/365.

Posted by: Ken at April 20, 2004 12:45 PM

"Admits mistakes: Bush: 45 Kerry: 46 "

Looks like we need some ads based on his refusal to apologize for calling his fellow soldiers "war criminals". Yeah, he admits the language is "harsh", but he has yet to retract the accusations of rape and murder.

"Understands people's problems: Bush: 41 Kerry: 51"

That and we need to push the "grew up in a Swiss boarding school" aspect of his life, and publicize the DYKWIA incidents.

Bush deserves to lead on *every single one* of these "character" issues.

Posted by: ralph phelan at April 21, 2004 4:15 PM