The Corner

Kerry’S Troubles

Just talked to a Republican strategist. He pointed out how John Kerry came out of the Democratic primaries with a 2-1 favorable/unfavorable rating. Now his favorable/unfavorable rating is 1-1. According to the latest Fox poll, 40% of people have an unfavorable impression of John Kerry and 39% have a favorable impression. This is a testament to the effectiveness of the Bush ads. Kerry is now fighting back with bio ads, an essentially defensive action. He still has to prove to the American people he’s a decent guy, rather than promoting his agenda. And the Bush offensive against Kerry isn’t even finished yet. But the Republican strategist I talked to says by no means does this mean that Bush it out of the woods. If you look at presidents who have lost reelection, they have had job approval ratings in the high 30s or low 40s. Presidents who win reelection have job approval ratings in the low to mid 50s. Bush is smack in the middle, with an approval rating of 50% or a little below. This is worrisome, but that Bush has stayed at this level rather than sinking lower despite all the recent bad news suggests the support he has is rock solid. The positive economic news would suggest his job approval won’t go lower. In the latest Fox poll, Bush actually slightly leads Kerry on the question of who can better handle the economy, which represents a reversal of fortune on that issue. Of course, Iraq is still a major wild card and Kerry could still significantly help himself with his vice presidential pick. Stay tuned…

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: 

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