Kerry-Bush Newsweek poll

by on January 25th, 2004

On TV they are talking a lot about the latest Newsweek poll that found in a Kerry-Bush match-up, Kerry would win with 49% over Bush at 46%.

Other interesting results included that 52% of voters don’t want to see Bush re-elected. According to the poll, while 37% strongly want to see him re-elected, 47% strongly do not. This is an issue of saliency: the Bush haters feel stronger than the Bush-lovers. This is important because at face value, it indicates turn-out would be greater in those trying to kick Bush out than those trying to give him four more years. There are problems, however, in this poll that I will discuss later in this post.

Another result found, unsurprisingly, that Kerry-Edwards and Kerry-Clark were considered the “best tickets” to beat Bush among Democrats. This makes sense – Kerry, as a Massachusetts liberal, will be looking for a southerner to run with him. I believe that southerner is more likely to be Edwards than Clark. Kerry already has the miltary experience covered, so Clark’s credentials in that area aren’t needed – besides, I don’t think the Wesley-complex (read: huge ego) would allow Clark to take the VP slot.

The important thing to remember about this poll, however, is not its results! This poll was conducted among 1,006 adults, aged 18 and older. This is not a poll of likely voters, or even registered voters! At best, this poll can be considered a gauge of popular opinion, but not an accurate representation of what the hypothetical election’s results would be, despite the fact that the press will eat this poll up and talk about it a whole lot in for the next few days. With Kerry increasingly looking like the Democratic nominee, it’s an important poll – but not in the way it’s being portrayed.

Remember that the Bush campaign hasn’t kicked into high gear yet. It’s biding its time (and money) waiting for a clear opponent to surface. Kerry’s favorable approval rating (54%) is sure to take a hit once the Bush campaign begins hitting him (the talking point of choice at the moment seems to be that Kerry’s voting record is identical to that of Ted Kennedy). This is going to be a very close, very exciting race.

Hunter Williams