View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Fuzzy Math 

Again, the Washington Post has a poll out. Again, it shows movement in the direction of John Kerry. Again, it pays to look at the party distribution. When they tell you, that is.

On the poll's headline question, trust in the "campaign" on terrorism (don't call it a war, of course), independents say they prefer Kerry 50-45. But overall, the Post weighs Democrats 9 points more heavily than Republicans, 38-29. I know each question has a margin of error of 3 points. But this is the lead, the single question they base their headline on, and it's clearly the outlier. It's also peculiar that the President does better on Iraq than on terror in general. Iraq had been widely perceived as a drag on his terrorism popularity.

Two other questions also suggest this issue isn't as clear-cut as the Post headline writers would have it. On the question of who they trust to keep the country safer, Bush wins 54-40. On the question of whether or not Kerry has a clear plan for terror, the answer is "no" by a similar margin, even though this question oversamples Democrats 36-30.

Overall job approval similarly gives Democrats a 5-point edge, 35-30. The other Big Question, who would you actually vote for, gives Kerry an 8-point lead, but they don't break it down by party. And there's been little change in another core fact: most people supporting Kerry are voting anti-Bush (55%), while Bush's support is overwhelmingly pro-Bush, over 80%.

There's no question that the poll shows independents moving away from the President. There's also no question that those figures are several points less reliable than the overall poll numbers, as they include only a third of the 1200 people polled. This makes the independent numbers slightly less reliable that the Rasmussen tracking poll, which polls 500 people.

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