- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2004

Swing voters are generally unimpressed with the three major presidential candidates, down on the war in Iraq and upset about the economy, said a sample survey released last week by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Despite estimates released Friday showing more than 248,000 jobs created in May and 1.2 million so far this year, the survey showed that swing voters are overwhelmingly unsupportive of President Bush’s economic policies and don’t really know Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry.

“It may be that the recent news on the economy hasn’t reached them yet,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Center.

Forty percent of swing voters said the economy was poor and 45 percent saw it as fair. Only 1 percent said it was excellent and 13 percent said it was good.

On Mr. Bush’s handling of the economy, 60 percent of swing voters said they disapproved, although 72 percent said their own economic situation was fair or good.

The survey focused on 832 “swing” voters — those with no stated presidential preference — among 8,314 voters polled in May. The survey has a margin of error of three percentage points.

Swing voters make up 11 percent of the U.S. population, the study said. But in the 20 battleground states, where neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Kerry has a decided advantage of 10 percentage points or more, such respondents make up 26 percent.

Republicans said the jobs numbers don’t lie, and even the Kerry campaign was light on negative rhetoric.

“Any step forward in the job market is good news for workers, but America is still in the worst job recovery since the Great Depression, with 1.9 million private-sector jobs lost in the Bush presidency,” said Allison Dobson, spokeswoman for the Kerry campaign.

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, said voters can thank the Bush tax cuts for the turnaround.

“Naysayers who seek to ‘roll back’ tax relief should take note of [Fridays] news: Tax relief has proven to be the right medicine for a reeling economy, resulting in a healthy economic environment for even more Americans,” Mr. Blunt said.

But the Annenberg poll shows swing voters thinking the opposite.

On the question of whether “you personally benefited from Bush tax cuts,” 77 percent said not much or not at all, and 48 percent said they knew someone who lost a job because of the economy while 51 percent said they did not.

Swing voters also want the United States out of Iraq, with 52 percent wanting the troops to come home “as soon as possible” and 41 percent saying not until an Iraqi government is formed. Mr. Bush took a hit in this category as well, with 69 percent saying he did not have a clear plan in Iraq.

Swing voters don’t see Mr. Kerry or independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader as solid options either.

About 27 percent said they favored Mr. Kerry, compared with 24 percent who said they did not and 38 percent who said they were neutral.

Mr. Nader fared slightly worse, said Mrs. Jamieson. Twenty percent said they favored Mr. Nader, 31 percent said they did not, and 31 percent were neutral.

The survey showed Mr. Bush is considered the stronger leader: 5.7 to Mr. Kerry’s 5.2 on a scale of one to 10, and more likable, 5.5 to 5.2.

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