Newsweek Shows A Minimum Four-Point Convention Bounce, And Maybe More
The Newsweek Poll out late today shows that Kerry got a four-point bounce from the convention, and now leads Bush by seven points, 49%-42%, with Ralph Nader taking 3%. But this result is deceiving, because as Newsweek notes, the poll was taken over two nights, one before and one after Kerry’s speech. Of those polled the day after Kerry’s speech, Kerry soared to a ten-point lead over Bush.
For the first time in the NEWSWEEK poll, as many voters strongly back Kerry as strongly back Bush (31 percent to 30 percent). In an election expected to be decided by a small number of unaffiliated voters, independents now lean toward Kerry by a margin of 45 percent to 39 percent, with Nader pulling 7 percent. And voters are becoming more likely to predict a Kerry victory in November: Forty-four percent say Kerry will win vs. 43 percent who predict Bush.
Voters are deadlocked at 46 percent over who they would trust more with handling the situation in Iraq (Bush had enjoyed a 15 point lead in March). They also just barely prefer Bush to Kerry (48 percent to 43 percent) on handling terror and homeland security, issues on which they had preferred the president by 21 points in March. This is significant because the top issues among voters are terrorism (21 percent), the economy (19 percent), Iraq (18 percent) and health care (15 percent).
Kerry gets higher ratings as someone who can be trusted “to make the right decisions during an international crisis” (53 percent Kerry versus 48 percent Bush). Six in 10 voters (58 percent) are dissatisfied with the direction the country is headed and, domestically, more voters believe Bush’s policies have hurt (43 percent) rather than helped (33 percent) the economy. Voters also feel they would far more trust Kerry (55 percent) than Bush (32 percent) with issues pertaining to health care and Medicare.
(T)he Democratic Party’s nominee now boasts stronger ratings than the president on being “personally likeable” (67 percent agree with that description of Kerry, 62 percent of the president); on being someone who cares about “someone like you” (57 percent feel this describes Kerry, 44 percent Bush); and on having “strong leadership qualities” (31 percent don’t see these in Kerry whereas 38 percent don’t see them in Bush).
And whatever benefit Rove thought he would get by making a wedge and value issue out of gay marriage is being blown apart by Bush’s disadvantage against Kerry on stem cell research.
Voters choose Bush’s less permissive stance on gay marriage by a wide margin (46 percent to 33 percent) as the position that best reflects their own views. However, this potential wedge issue may be tempered by the fact that voters vastly prefer Kerry’s progressive stance on stem cell research by a margin of 53 percent to 26 percent.
These poll results are important when compared against an analysis just released by Gallup, where the five most important candidate traits to voters were:
• Shares your values
• Can manage the government effectively
• Is honest and trustworthy
• Party affiliation (of respondents)
• Is a person you admire
When looking at those traits, you can see how Kerry has gained in recent polls against Bush because he has done better among voters on the issues of trust, sharing voters’ values, and in being a better manager than Bush.
The latest Electoral Vote calculator shows a Kerry lead of 289 electoral votes against 232 for Bush, but this result assumes Florida and Ohio going to Bush based on Zogby pre-convention polls that show only a one-point lead for Bush in each state. Note that Kerry has now caught and moved past Bush in Tennessee and West Virginia, and is in a tie with Bush in both Iowa and Minnesota in polls done before the Thursday night speech.