Q&A Friday: Bush’s Poll Numbers

Question: “Why is Bush doing so poorly in the polls? I read that relative to other presidents at this time in the election cycle Bush is far behind and he has spent $100 million plus on ads. I am a little hopeless.” — conservet

Answer: First off, W’s approval rating is lower than it should be. But, if it’s 50% at election time, he’s going to win. If not, it’s either anybody’s ball game or a Kerry win. That being said, don’t ever get ecstatic or down because of a poll or two. The numbers can vary widely depending on a lot of factors. Personally, I do my poll watching at Real Clear Politics because they post new polls every day from a variety of different source which allows you to get a better feel for what’s happening. The latest polls show Bush’s number creeping back up. In fact, W. leads in the latest Rasmussen poll.

That being said, there are couple of ideas underlying your analysis that I want to address.

One, when you combine the Kerry campaign spending with the spending of Shadow Democratic Party (Moveon and company), it’s roughly even with Bush’s spending. However, Bush has a much larger campaign chest than Kerry at this point and the GOP has FINALLY started collecting soft money now that there’s no chance the Federal Election Commission is going to step in and stop what appear to be illegal adds by the Democratic 527s. So Bush should be able to outspend Kerry as we get closer to November 2nd when the voters start paying more attention.

Two, while I — like other Republicans — would prefer that Bush be well ahead right now, he’s still not in bad shape given the circumstances. Polling shows that the voters have not figured out how fantastic the economy is yet, so we have to figure Bush’s numbers will improve significantly there. Moreover, despite the fact that people don’t get how good the economy is & despite the two straight months of bad news in Iraq, John Kerry — who is running a horrible campaign by the way — hasn’t been able to gain any ground on Bush.

It’s still a dogfight, one that Bush could lose, but I don’t think so. I still think W. is a much stronger candidate than Kerry at this point and figures to pick up strength all the way to November while Kerry will likely continue to flounder. Time will tell if I’m correct.

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