Bush Leads in Two Polls

Good news for Bush in two new polls (MSNBC)

A pair of new polls released Tuesday show that President Bush is maintaining a healthy lead over Sen. John Kerry as the first of their three nationally televised debates approaches.

In a Washington Post-ABC News Poll, Bush has a six-point lead over Kerry — 51 percent to 45 percent — among likely voters while independent Ralph Nader garners 1 percent. Bush’s lead is seven points — 51-44 — among registered voters.

A new poll from USA Today/CNN/Gallup showed similar results. Bush leads Kerry by eight points — 52-44 — among likely voters and by 11 points — 53-42 — among all registered voters. Nader claims three percent in both cases.

The debates could conceivably start to reverse this lead, although I don’t expect that to happen.

The spin is rather odd:

In conducting their poll, the Post and ABC found that Bush has built his lead by through “relentless attacks on Kerry” that have “badly damaged the Democratic nominee. … Voters routinely describe Kerry as wishy-washy, as a flip-flopper and as a candidate they are not sure they can trust, almost as if they are reading from Bush campaign ad scripts.”

“But Kerry’s problems are also partly of his own making. Despite repeated efforts to flesh out his proposals on Iraq, terrorism and other issues, he has yet to break through to undecided voters as someone who has clear plans for fixing the country’s biggest problems.”

These are two sides of the same coin. The reason the Bush folks have been able to successfully portray Kerry as “wishy-washy” is because Kerry has failed to articulate a consistent vision.

Update (1312): Apparently, an eight point lead that tracks with virtually every other poll and which is well outside the margin of error isn’t actually a lead, merely the appearance of a lead:

Bush apparently leads Kerry in pre-debate poll (USA Today)

Headed into their first face-to-face debate, President Bush appears to be leading Democratic Sen. John Kerry among likely voters, with a clearer edge among registered voters. The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows that among likely voters, Bush was the choice of 52 percent, while Kerry was the choice of 44 percent and independent Ralph Nader garnered 3 percent. That result was within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

I stand corrected.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Eric says:

    Based on my understanding of what the mysterypollster.typepad.com has written, that is actually correct. According to him, the margin of error applies to both candidates in the poll. Thus Bush’s lead could actually be 56 to 40 or they could be tied 48 to 48. Since all the polls are consistent, however, it seems like Bush as small lead.