The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, June 21, 2004  

Losing the War on Terror -- Abroad and Among Voters

This just in from the Washington Post (“Support for Bush’s War on Terror Slips, Poll Shows,” by Richard Morin and Dan Balz):

Public anxiety over mounting casualties in Iraq and the doubts about long-term consequences of the war continue to rise and have helped to erase President Bush’s once-formidable advantage over Sen. John F. Kerry on who is best able to deal with terrorist threats, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Exactly half the country now approves of the way Bush is managing the U.S. war on terrorism, down 13 points since April, according to the poll. Barely two months ago, Bush comfortably led Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee, by 21 percentage points when voters were asked which man they trusted to deal with the terrorist threat. Today the country is evenly divided, with 48 percent preferring Kerry and 47 percent favoring Bush.

Other notable findings from the poll:

Fewer than half of those surveyed -- 47 percent -- say the war in Iraq was worth fighting, while 52 percent say it was not, the highest level of disapproval recorded in Post-ABC News polls.


Seven in 10 Americans now say there has been an “unacceptable” level of casualties in Iraq, up six points from April and also a new high in Post-ABC News polling

Still more bad news for the Bush administration:

The public is now sharply divided over whether the war contributed to the long-term security of the United States, with barely half -- 51 percent -- saying it has, a new low in Post-ABC polls. Three in four say the conflict has damaged the image of the United States throughout the world and a majority believe the war has not improved prospects for long-term peace and stability in the Middle East.

Even more significant given the small number of likely voters thought to be undecided about the November election:

Virtually all of the recent movement against the war has occurred among political independents. Among those with no firm party ties, the proportion who said the war was “not worth fighting” increased from 48 percent in May to 59 percent in the latest poll.

Never before has a presidential campaign so poorly spent $85 million. A million dollars a day and losing ground. Karl Rove, please call your office.

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