Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Latest Washington Post Poll: Bush A Failure In Fighting Terror

The latest Washington Post poll contains some very bad news for the Deserter, which is very good news for America.

Even as support for Bush's handling of the Iraq war collapsed, support for his overall handling of the "war on terrorism" had remained steady. As recently as April poll respondents gave the Deserter a 21 point lead over Kerry on the issue of who would better handle the terror issue. That lead is gone. The Post now has it Kerry 48%, Bush 47% on the issue of handling terror. On the issue of honesty and trustworthiness, the Post poll has Kerry in front by 52% to 39%.

Many of you may be saying "so what - Bush's overall approval ratings remain steady at about 47% and Kerry's lead among registered voters is still a slim 4%." This is true, but the precipitous decline in support for the Deserter's handling of terror is significant for at least four reasons.

First, terror is the big wildcard in the upcoming election. The significance of the terror issue relative to other issues - the economy, crime, etc. - could rise dramatically between now and election day, driven by events outside anyone's control, such as another major terrorist attack here in the U.S. His big lead over Kerry on the terror issue had promised the potential to swing a huge number of undecided voters to the Deserter if there occurred another spike in the significance of the terror issue among voters. Terror is no longer a potential "big swing" issue for the Deserter.

Second, the huge drop in the Deserter's poll numbers on the terror issue indicates that he is no longer able to manipulate or "spin" the terror issue effectively. On other issues, such as the economy and Iraq, the Deserter's poll numbers appeared to generally comport with reality: gradual increases in poll numbers for the Deserter's handling of the economy as the economy gradually improved, and generally declining poll numbers for his handling of Iraq as the situation there continued to deteriorate. Meanwhile, the Deserter's poll numbers on terror held remarkably high even as terror proliferated and Al Qaeda has been resurgent, suggesting that the Deserter could "spin" the issue to his advantage even in the face of bad news. There is now reason to believe that the Deserter's poll numbers on the terror issue will rise and fall based on his ability to actually stem terror rather than his skill in fearmongering and exploiting hatred of muslims.

Third, the terror poll numbers have closely tracked the "strong leader" poll numbers, where the Deserter also held a big lead over Kerry. Those poll numbers have now diverged, however, suggesting that although poll respondents still find the Deserter to be a "strong leader" (I know, it's incredible), they now have doubts whether more "strength" - more bombs, more torture, more invasions - is the solution to the terror problem. That's very bad news for the Bushies, because the Deserter has burned our bridges on alternative approaches to the terror issue; it's too late for The Great Unilateralist to resort to diplomacy and multilateralism. If you believe we can more effectively fight terror by realigning ourselves with the rest of the world, John Kerry is your man.

Fourth, and most significantly for all of us, a continued decline in support for the Deserter's terror policy should cause the neocons and their Oval Office stooge to hesitate before unleashing an "October suprise." The great danger inherent in a collapse in the Deserter's poll numbers was that he would seek to capitalize on support for his handling of the terror issue by invading Syria or fomenting a major terror attack on the U.S., either of which would tend to rally support for a President seen as effective in fighting terror. But if the President is viewed as ineffective in fighting terror, either of these stratagems could create a huge backlash. Just ask Jimmy Carter. A foreign threat will produce the "rally 'round the President" phenomenon only if the President is trusted to respond effectively. Although voters will generally give the President the benefit of a doubt in responding to a new threat, a judgment of failure with respect to an existing threat is punished severely. The hostages in Iran had languished for fully a year by the time the 1980 elections were held, and the judgment was that Carter had failed. Similarly, the "war on terror" will be more than three years old by October. If the Washington Post is correct, the Deserter's terror policy has been adjudged a failure - more people are willing to entrust the "war on terror" to an alleged flip-flopping northeastern liberal than are willing to back the incumbent President.

I've stated before my belief that the neocons and their stooge President would not hesitate to engulf the middle east in flames if that promised an electoral benefit. But although they may be amoral, they can read the polls, and the message from the latest Washington Post poll is clear: resort to an October surprise at your own risk, Mr. President. The days of exploiting fear and death for votes are coming to an end.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The latest Washington Post poll contains some very bad news for the Deserter, which is very good news for America."

You mean the one that sat over in Europe and smoked dope ( didn't inhale it, just smoked it )while protesting the Vietnam war?

12:44 PM  

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