August 16, 2004


In Ohio, doubts remain on Kerry: Sample sees Bush as better defined (Yvonne Abraham, August 16, 2004, Boston Globe)

[W]ariness about Kerry was expressed by all five members of a focus group conducted by the Globe over the weekend in the heart of this fierce battleground state, the second in a series of meetings that will follow the group through the election on Nov. 2. These five, recruited earlier this summer by the Center for Policy Studies at the University of Akron Law School, were considerably more ambivalent when they met for the first time in June.

During the latest two-hour discussion, however, these likely voters -- three of whom now say they are leaning toward Bush and two who are still undecided -- described Kerry as ill-defined, overly reliant on his Vietnam service, and decidedly Northeastern. By contrast, four years in office have bought the president the benefit of the doubt among these voters. Bush has done the best he could with difficult circumstances, they said, and even Locy, so critical of him on Iraq, did not fault his handling of the economy.

These voters' sympathy for Bush -- even in the face of mistakes they concede he has made -- mirrors the view of voters across the Buckeye State. Recent polls show that almost as many Ohioans disapprove of the president as approve of him. A Columbus Dispatch poll in late July showed that 55 percent of respondents felt the nation was on the wrong track. And yet, Bush and Kerry are still locked in the tightest of battles here, in a statistical tie.

Most of the group said they were reluctant to risk voting for Kerry when matters of the economy and national security seem so volatile. The senator, they said, is freighted with too many unknowns.

"If you do elect Bush, you know what direction he's going to go," said Robin King, 39, a print-shop coordinator at the First Christian Church in Canton, and a Bush supporter. "You don't know anything that Kerry's going to do. You can guess from what he says, but he doesn't really hit hard on any of the questions."

Ed Beegle, 53, a retired UPS driver who voted for Bush in 2000 but is still undecided this year, said Kerry "never commits to nothing."

The Kerry campaign is designed to defeat a President who's at the 30's in the approval polls--as Carter and Bush I were--not one over 50%.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 16, 2004 8:55 AM

"Bush has done the best he could under difficult circumstances". This may be the key to the election as a group of voters are not happy but feel Bush is doing his best (helped by the likability factor) and has them vote for Bush.
As for Ohio the polls at realclearpolitics show it from +5 Kerry to +5 Bush but my sense is that it is slowly moving into the Bush camp.

Posted by: AWW at August 16, 2004 9:56 AM