It could be that we are simply a divided country and nothing that happens on the ground in this campaign is going to make much of a dent in anyone’s numbers. It could be that Kerry has failed to engage the American voting public. It could be the millions spent by the Bush team to define John Kerry as gas taxing, soft-on-terror, flip flopper. It could be that the obsession over the 9-11 commission’s findings have shifted focus away from those issues for which Bush is clearly responsible.
Whatever it is, if the latest Washington Post/ABC poll numbers are accurate, then it is good news for the Bush camp at an absolutely remarkable moment. Even as the evidence that the Iraq effort was based on a lie and has been wildly mismanaged continues to build, the President’s key numbers remain steady.
About the same percentage of Americans approve of the way Bush is handling the war in Iraq and the war on terror. Yes, nearly half of the country believes that going to war was a mistake and a solid majority believes that U.S. troops are “bogged down” in Iraq. And yes, a majority of Americans do not believe that this administration has a clear plan to deal with the unrest in Iraq. In short, Americans believe that the wars in Iraq and on terror are the key issues of the day (thankfully, we got that one right) and believe that the Bush administration entered Iraq under questionable circumstances and is doing a pretty lousy managing the current situation. Almost 60% still believe America is on the wrong track.
Still, what the heck, he seems to be doing fine. The key flip flop in the last five weeks has been the overall edge that W has built over Kerry. This is the new math. I certainly can’t explain these numbers, but they don’t look good for John Kerry.