New Polls, The Questionable Job Numbers, and Clark's Prospects
A Newsweek poll out today, taken through yesterday, shows Bush gaining back some ground on the issue of how he is handling the economy, but still losing support with voters over how he is handling Iraq. The irony of any polls that show Bush gaining some ground on economic issues is that, as Pessimist showed with his great post yesterday, the job gains that Bush is gushing over today almost all came in low-paying service or temp-help jobs. Yet we lost more than 30,000 manufacturing jobs in October, and Challenger and Gray tallied well over 170,000 layoffs in October. So Bush’s claim for election next year rests on a new economy made up of temp help and retail jobs that will vanish in January. We’ll see how they spin those numbers in early February, right after New Hampshire.
The same Newsweek poll showed that a majority of Independents (53%) are against Bush’s election next year, with only 40% favoring it. Moreover, the latest Zogby poll out in the middle of last week showed that 52% of those polled rated Bush's job performance negatively, compared to a 48% positive rating. Notable from this poll is the sample size of over 1000 likely, not registered voters.
A point of interest: I had a chance to catch Wesley Clark’s Thursday speech at South Carolina State University on CSPAN last night. It was a very impressive performance, with Clark outlining a more coherent and successful strategy for Iraq and the world than any of his Democratic competitors has to date, or Bush has in three years. The text of the speech is here, but if you can see the speech over the weekend, check it out. Clark repeated these criticisms again yesterday at Georgia Tech. For his part, Clark picked up the endorsement of former South Carolina governor Jim Hodges today, and his campaign predicts it will have raised almost $10 million by the end of the year, in a little over a quarter of effort. Raising this kind of money ensures that he, after Dean's announcement today, will also opt out of public financing.
Simply put, Clark is designing his whole effort to be the Southern firewall against Howard Dean’s early successes in New Hampshire and possibly Iowa. Raising that kind of money, and talking these issues in the South ensures that although he may look like a regional candidate now, he is positioning himself to be an insurmountable speedbump for Dean in the later contests as the remaining Anybody-But-Dean candidate. No matter what the chattering class says about Clark’s fading boomlet, I think the strategy will work starting in South Carolina, and definitely in remaining Southern states. Clark is gearing up to be around long after Iowa and New Hampshire have sucked the life out of Kerry and possibly Gephardt. After Clark wins South Carolina, it will spell the end for Edwards as well. We could very well see a field with only Dean, Clark, Lieberman, and Gephardt after South Carolina, with the latter two gasping for air.