Skip to comments.Bush vs. Kerry: Second Look
Posted on 02/23/2004 8:03:51 AM PST by The_Victor
|Survey of 1,000 Likely Voters Feb. 19-20, 2004||Bush vs. Kerry: Second Look|
|February 22, 2004--It's been a month since Massachusetts Senator John Kerry emerged as the Democrats' front-runner.
His string of Primary and Caucus victories have driven all serious challengers but John Edwards from the race... and the Edwards campaign is in the Hail Mary phase. Still, in many ways, voters across the nation know more about who Kerry is not, rather than who he is.
Because he defeated Howard Dean, Kerry was seen as the more moderate Democrat (and the more electable Democrat). Because he is not George W. Bush, he is good enough for most Democrats.
Now, as Kerry seeks to be the man who also vanquished John Edwards, he faces another image make-over. Will Kerry suddenly seem more liberal while defeating his more moderate Southern colleague?
Ultimately, though, John Kerry will be defined for who he is, not who he has defeated to win the nomination. That will happen over the next 60 or 90 days. By Memorial Day, voters will finally have an impression of who John Kerry is is... and that impression will go a long way towards determining how close the election will be in November.
A month ago, we provided a look at voter first impressions of a Bush-Kerry match. Now, a month later, it's interesting to note how public perceptions of John Kerry are already beginning to shift.
* Forty-one percent (41%) of all voters now see John Kerry as politically liberal. That's up from 37% a month ago. Thirty-nine percent (39%) see Kerry as a moderate, unchanged from a month ago.
* Liberal voters continue to see Kerry as a moderate (59% of self-identified liberals have this view). Only 23% of liberal voters see Kerry as politically liberal. That has not changed in a month.
* Fifty-one percent (51%) of American voters now believe their own taxes will go up if John Kerry is elected President. That's an increase of six percentage points from a month ago.
* A month ago, just 37% of political moderates believed that John Kerry's election would increase their taxes. That figure has jumped to 55% today.
* Among those who identify themselves as somewhat conservative, 63% now believe a Kerry win would lead to a tax increase. That's up from 57% a month ago.
* By comparison, 50% of voters see the President as politically conservative. Thirty-four percent (34%) see Bush as a moderate.
* While two-thirds of liberal voters see Bush as conservative, conservative voters remain divided. Just 49% of all conservatives see the President as one of them. The good news for the President is that figure is up from 46% a month ago.
* If George W. Bush is elected, 32% of all voters expect their taxes to go up while only 16% expect their taxes to decline. A month ago, those figures were 34% and 15% respectively.
* Regardless of who they want to win, 51% of all voters believe George W. Bush will be re-elected. That's down from 55% a month ago. Thirty-five percent (35%) now believe Kerry will win, up from 30% a month ago.
The national telephone survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports February 19-20, 2004. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. (see Methodology)
Now, if Edwards strongly attacks Kerry from the right, he will help us tremendously. Unless, of course, he attacks him so successfully that he actually wins.
Best possible outcome is that Edwards exposes JFK for the radical liberal he is but does not completely destroy him.
Kerry as a liberal: A plurality of the sample already sees him as a liberal, and that's a poisonous word; liberals, in fact, are now calling themselves "progressives," so negative is the reaction to the "L" word. And yes, Kerry will be seen as a liberal by a larger number of people after he goes negative on, and finishes off "that nice young Southern moderate," Senator Edwards (not that Edwards is a moderate by any reasonable definition, but he has somehow succeeded in passing himself off as such). Just about the time Edwards is eliminated from the Dem primary race, but well before the Boston convention makes it official, Bush and GOP ads will define him as a liberal through sharply focused ads. John Kerry's words are on video tape, and his Senate votes are on the record. He has even admitted that he's going after the same issues as Ralph Nader (in an effort, of course, to talk Ralph out of running, but nonetheless, he said it, and sets himself up to be a Nader clone in GOP ads).
Kerry as a tax-raiser: Very encouraging that so many potential voters believe that their taxes would go up under a President Kerry. A few of the extremely wealthy elite (Warren Buffet, various Hollywood actors, some high-profile "Eastern Establishment" types) will say "yes, please, raise my taxes and those of other rich people, because it's the right thing to do." That will be a small number of people indeed, in my opinion. Now, you're not likely to hear a "tax cuts for the rich" campaign put forth by the wealthy, because they fear an outraged backlash at any such outrageous, politically incorrect thoughts. But low-tax proponents are a silent majority among the rich, and a vocal majority among the middle class.
Kerry as a loser: The most encouraging thing about this "under the surface" look is the conviction among a majority that President Bush will be re-elected. If this sentiment continues, Kerry's fund-raising will be negatively impacted; nobody wants to throw away money on a loser. More importantly, as the election draws nearer, if the "Bush will win" sentiment continues, the prediction will influence the outcome. Everyone likes a winner, and the last of the undecided vote will swing toward the perceived leader.
I am anything but overconfident. There is, needless to say, a long way to go. But I like what I see in this poll.
I can see the Bush crowd furiously taking notes as Edwards attacks Kerry!
How any conservative can prefer Kerry over Bush defies reason.
I think the proper interpretation is that 8% of respondents thought Kerry was conservative. Equally baffling, though, as to how anyone with a function brain cell could conclude that Kerry is conservative.
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