President Bush’s lead over Democrat John Kerry has widened a bit in a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll despite two weeks that have been dominated by a deteriorating security situation in Iraq and criticism of his administration’s handling of the terrorism threat before the Sept. 11 attacks.
The survey, taken Friday through Sunday, showed Bush leading Kerry 51% to 46% among likely voters, slightly wider than the 3-point lead he held in early April. The shifts were within the margin of error of / 4 percentage points in the sample of likely voters.
The president’s job approval rating was steady at 52%.
Now, the poll shows that Bush is ahead. So, look at this interesting bit:
•Bush holds an advantage over Kerry in handling the situation in Iraq, but there are qualms about what the president is doing there. By 49% to 48%, those surveyed say they disapprove of the job Bush is doing in handling Iraq. On handling the economy, a 52% majority disapproves of Bush. But he receives a 60% approval rating on handling terrorism.
•The public is split, 50% to 48%, over whether Bush does a good or poor job of explaining his policies. Though Bush’s support didn’t erode with sobering news from Iraq, Zogby noted that it also didn’t rise with his rare prime-time news conference last week. Major appearances by a president often give his standing a bump.
•More than six in 10 voters say Bush and Kerry understand the major issues facing the country. But Bush is given more credit for being straightforward: 56% agree that Bush “means what he says and says what he means.” Forty-four percent say the same of Kerry.
•Kerry’s favorable-unfavorable rating is little changed, at 54% to 37%.
If the numbers are so close there and/or Kerry leads on things like the economy, what’s going to happen to Kerry when the economy picks up further steam? What’s going to happen when things improve in Iraq?