Inside Politics

No rivals

President Bush would trounce all of his Democratic challengers in the 2004 presidential race, according to a poll released yesterday in which he bested all comers by at least 10 to 15 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute poll said Mr. Bush was favored 53 percent to 38 percent over both Howard Dean and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, 52 percent to 41 percent over Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and 51 percent to 39 percent over Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri.

Though neither has declared candidacy, Mr. Bush also would triumph over former Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York — by 53 percent to 41 percent over Mr. Gore and 52 percent to 42 percent over Mrs. Clinton. Fifty-three percent of Democrats surveyed said Mr. Gore should not run for president again.

The survey of 1,228 registered voters was conducted earlier this month, before retired Gen. Wesley Clark declared his candidacy.

Overall, Mr. Bush received a 53 percent approval rating. Vice President Dick Cheney received 54 percent approval; Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, 60 percent; and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, 78 percent. About 58 percent of those polled said they supported the war in Iraq.

The alpha males

“Real men vote Republican,” National Review’s Jay Nordlinger writes in an essay on “political virility” in the Wall Street Journal Online yesterday.

“Republicans have seldom shied from an embrace of manliness,” he noted. And while President Bush is “famous for his ‘compassionate conservatism’ … Bush as hombre has been the dominant theme of his post-September 11 presidency.”

Those closest to Mr. Bush have their own versions of the quality.

“Dick Cheney is a laconic Westerner, exuding an aura of competence, strength and dependability. You get the feeling that things are going to be all right if Mr. Cheney is on the case. Like his boss, he talks straight, in matter-of-fact tones.

“Donald Rumsfeld is almost a riot of manliness,” Mr. Nordlinger continues, calling him “the anti-Clinton. We see this in his authenticity, his trustworthiness and his frankness. He is so direct, he practically assaults the modern, spin-accustomed ear.

“Since September 11, many Americans have rediscovered the virtues of manliness in office. The Democrats have a job to do if they’re to challenge the ‘daddy party’ in this respect,” Mr. Nordlinger concluded, adding that Democrats “will have to acquire a bit more testosterone if they’re to compete with the GOP.”

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