Sunday, March 7, 2004

Kerry Takes A Lead In Florida

From today’s Miami Herald

Increasingly critical of President Bush on his handling of the economy and the war in Iraq, more Florida voters now say they plan to support Democrat John Kerry than to help reelect the president, according to a new poll.

The Herald/St. Petersburg Times survey reveals striking vulnerabilities for Bush among key independent voters in the state that narrowly put him into the White House four years ago.

More Florida voters disapprove of his job performance than approve, another sign of the president’s lagging popularity since the 2001 terrorist attacks transformed Bush from a polarizing figure into a popular wartime president.

A majority of voters believe that the United States is ”moving in the wrong direction” under Bush — a marked reversal from two years ago, when 7 in 10 voters, including half of Democrats, approved of Bush’s job performance.

While Kerry secured the nomination only days ago, he holds a 49 to 43 percent lead over a president who just four months ago led every potential Democratic challenger by as many as 18 percentage points.

Still, the results could merely reflect a high point for Kerry, coming after weeks of positive publicity associated with his string of primary victories and just as Bush begins a massive TV ad campaign in Florida and other battleground states specifically aimed at bolstering his image on the economy and security.

In a worrisome sign for Democrats, consumer advocate Ralph Nader continues to win enough support — 3 percent — to swing the election, as many believe he did in 2000 by winning 90,000 votes in Florida.

”This poll clearly demonstrates that the state which gave us drama and nail-biting in 2000 may prove no different in 2004,” said Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, who conducted the survey for the two newspapers with Democratic pollster Rob Schroth.

Insert all the caveats – it’s only March, Kerry’s been winning primaries while Bush has been whining, etc. But it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.