Zogby: Still 50-50

John Zogby, easily the pollster whose results I trust most (and he’s a Democrat), has released some new results of a poll taken after the Edwards selection. The results, frankly, are all over the place:

Kerry-Edwards Pulls In Ahead of Bush-Cheney 48%-46%; No Big Bounce for Kerry; Country Still Evenly Divided in Red and Blue States; Nearly One in Ten Likely Voters Say that “Their Vote is Not Counted Accurately,” New Zogby America Poll Reveals

The newly announced Democratic Presidential ticket of Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards enters the race with a two point lead over President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney (48%-46%), according to a new Zogby America poll. The poll of 1008 likely voters was conducted Tuesday and Wednesday (July 6-7, 2004). Overall results have a margin of sampling error of +/-3.1.

Overall approval of President Bush̢۪s job performance moved up two points this month to 49%, with more than half of respondents expressing disapproval of the Bush administration̢۪s performance on the economy (59%); foreign policy (54%); health care (68%); education (63%); and the environment (60%).

The majority of respondents continue to say that the country is headed on the wrong track (48%), while 47% feel the US is on the right track. This response has virtually remained unchanged over the last three months.

This seems to reflect a trend in several recently-released polls: the presidential race is a toss-up even though Bush’s internal numbers continue to go down. I find the trend numbers quite problematic for Bush as, so the conventional wisdom goes, undecideds tend to swing toward the challenger.

Pollster John Zogby: “This is not a big bounce electorate. Let me repeat again: we are a nation that is split down the middle, polarized and hardened. What happened in the past 48 hours is that Undecideds are back down to the 5%-7% range. Kerry’s announcement of Edwards as his running mate brought some of those who defected into the undecided camp in June back into the fold. At the same time, it seems to have also re-energized Bush supporters. Where we are today is probably where we are going to be through much of the summer, if not through most of this campaign.

“Bush has lost his edge on the war on terrorism and his job performance numbers on foreign policy, health care, the economy, the environment, and the war in Iraq are dismal. While his overall job performance is up to 49% — bolstered perhaps by his personal favorable rating of 56% — his re-elect is only 43%. And his favorable rating of 56% favorable/43% unfavorable is pretty much the same as Kerry’s 54% to 42%. No advantage here for either candidate.

“Kerry’s lead was actually double digits the first night of polling in the immediate aftermath of the Edwards Moment – but it quickly dissipated as the electorate settled back into its evenly matched warring camps. Bush leads in the Red States by only 5 points, while Kerry leads in the Blue States by only 8 points. The choice of Edwards has reduced the President’s lead in the South down to only 3 points – 50% to 47%.

“There are some notable gaps in this poll: Bush leads among married voters 53% to 42%, while Kerry’s lead among singles is 62% to 26%. Kerry’s lead among 18-24 year olds in 59% to 40%, and among 25-34 year olds it is also 59% to 40% — but the President’s support increases with age: 46% to 45% among 35-49 year olds, 50% 50 45% among 55-69 year olds, and among those over 70 it is 50% to 44%. Remember that 55-69 year olds are mainly the most conservative of age cohorts, so the President’s lead here is not enough for him.

“The economy remains the top issue, but the war in Iraq has slipped to fourth place behind the war on terrorism and health care. These issues do not favor the President. Support for the war in Iraq is only 50% while 49% oppose it. Only 42% say that the American lives lost was worth it.

If nothing else, it’ll be an interesting four months ahead.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.