Helping Out John Zogby
Over at the Huffington Post, pollster John Zogby has been left scratching his head by the results of one of his own polls.
It seems that in the latest Zogby Poll, he asked likely voters to choose between George Bush and every President from Jimmy Carter on + John Kerry. Here are the results:
Bush (42%) loses to Carter (50%)
Bush (20%) loses to Reagan (59%)
Bush (34%) loses to his father (41%)
Bush (44%) loses to Clinton (46%)
Bush (48%) beats Kerry (47%)
After looking at this, Zogby says: “…every president since Carter defeats Bush. But Kerry still loses to Bush by one point. What am I missing here?”
No worries, Zogby, because I’m here to help.
What you’re seeing at work here — except in the case of Reagan, who was a titan among men — is nothing more than the fact that most voters have very short memories.
Let’s take Jimmy Carter, for example. Here’s a man who was one of the most hapless incompetents to ever sit in the Oval Office. Under his watch, the economy and the military crumbled, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, he horribly botched the Iranian hostage crisis, and he even gave away the Panama Canal. In many ways, the Carter Presidency was one of the low points of the century and were it not for the bungling of Lyndon Johnson, Carter could probably be fairly called the worst President of the 20th century.
But, you know what the extent of the average person’s knowledge about Carter is today?
Well, he’s a nice Christian man who won a Nobel Peace Prize and builds houses for poor people. That’s pretty much it…and that’s no big surprise. As we get further and further out from a President’s time in office, only the big events stick in people’s minds.
The difference between Senator flip-flop and the other candidates is that the election was just last year and so the American people can still remember how unimpressive Kerry was — and for that matter, still is.
You know what would have been a lot more fun?
To run Bush against more current politicians. How about Rudy, Jeb, Condi, or McCain vs. Bush? Would people rather have him or Hillary in charge? Would the American people prefer Bush or a Ted Kennedy, a politician who had some experience with people trapped in the water? Bush or Pelosi? Bush or Durbin? Bush or Blanco? Bush or Byrd? Heck, how about Bush vs. former Presidential candidate Al Sharpton?
Come on, you pollsters, somebody should run with this concept…