- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 16, 2004

Kerry’s problem

John Kerry is in deeper trouble than the polls indicate,” Dick Morris writes in the New York Post.

“While the Fox News survey taken last week after the Republican convention shows Bush with a small lead over Kerry, the internal data indicates big shifts against the Democrat,” Mr. Morris said.

“For example, Kerry is now seen unfavorably by a record 44 percent of the voters (his personal worst), giving him a slightly higher unfavorable ratio than Bush — whom 43 percent dislike. (Bush’s edge comes from the fact that he gets 51 percent to rate him favorably, while Kerry has only a 46 percent favorable rating.)

“But worse, the poll shows that Kerry must face a basic problem: His own voters don’t like him very much.

“The Fox News poll asked Kerry supporters if their vote for the Democrat could best be described as motivated by support for Kerry (41 percent) or by opposition to Bush (51 percent). By contrast, Bush voters emphatically say, by 82-13, that they are voting for the president rather than against the challenger.

“This puts Kerry in a tough position in the coming debates. He has no real base of support and any attenuation of the dislike his voters feel for Bush will weaken him substantially. All Bush has to do is to persuade a few Kerry voters to stop disliking him, and he can get their votes. There is no residual affection for the Democrat to get in the way of their switching to the president.”

Mr. Morris added: “If the president gives an even moderately effective presentation and comes across as even somewhat likeable, he can cut deeply into Kerry’s vote.”

New York bounce

President Bush got a convention bounce even in heavily Democratic New York, two statewide polls reported yesterday.

One poll, from the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, showed Democratic Sen. John Kerry leading Mr. Bush in the state, 47 percent to 41 percent, with independent Ralph Nader at 4 percent. But the lead was narrowed from a pre-Republican National Convention poll from Quinnipiac released Aug. 13 that had Mr. Kerry leading Mr. Bush 53 percent to 35 percent, with Mr. Nader at 4 percent.

Assuming that Mr. Nader quit the race, Mr. Kerry leads Mr. Bush in the latest poll, 49 percent to 42 percent, the Associated Press reports.

The new poll also found Mr. Bush’s approval rating rising to 43 percent, from 37 percent in the August poll.

“New York state is still colored a solid Democratic blue by politicians on both sides, but the color faded in the last month as President Bush came bouncing out of a very successful convention in New York City,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Hamden, Conn.-based polling institute.

A second statewide poll, from Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., had Mr. Kerry leading Mr. Bush 48 percent to 40 percent, with Mr. Nader at 4 percent. An April poll from Marist had Mr. Kerry leading Mr. Bush 54 percent to 37 percent.

No vacancy

New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey can continue to serve until his announced resignation on Nov. 15, a federal judge ruled yesterday as he dismissed a lawsuit seeking to force a special election to replace Mr. McGreevey.

U.S. District Court Judge Garrett Brown ruled that because Mr. McGreevey remains in office, no vacancy exists and, therefore, there is no cause for a special election.

Mr. McGreevey, married with two children, announced Aug. 12 that he was resigning in November because of an affair he had with a man.

Had Mr. McGreevey made his resignation effective before Sept. 3, two months ahead of the Nov. 2 election, the state would have held a special election for a new governor to serve out the Democrat’s term through January 2006.

Instead, Mr. McGreevey is scheduled to be replaced by Democratic state Senate President Richard Codey, who will occupy both posts.

Judge Brown referred in court to three dictionary definitions of the word “vacancy” in concluding that the office of New Jersey governor does not meet that definition, Reuters news agency reports.

“It’s clear from the plain language that no vacancy exists,” Judge Brown said. “Currently, the office of governor is not empty or unoccupied.”

Blown away

Hurricanes Charley and Frances have blown Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign off course in Florida, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

“Frances’ arrival forced Kerry again to shelve an Orlando rally that had been planned for this week, an event already bumped back from August when Hurricane Charley raced through Central Florida,” reporters John Kennedy and Maria Padilla said.

“Kerry has not campaigned in Florida since accepting the Democratic presidential nomination in late July.

“Now, Kerry not only is struggling with the weather, he must contend with an opponent who can marshal the power of the federal government and pour billions of relief dollars into the biggest battleground state in the presidential contest.

“‘It puts us at a decided disadvantage,’ Scott Maddox, Florida Democratic Party chairman, said Tuesday.”

Kerry on Letterman

Sen. John Kerry will appear on “The Late Show with David Letterman” on Monday.

In making the announcement yesterday, CBS said Mr. Kerry’s appearance marks the start of the fall season for the Letterman show.

Meanwhile, both Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry have been invited to appear in their own half-hour programs on the Black Entertainment Television (BET) network, the Associated Press reports.

The network’s founder and chief executive, Robert Johnson, has invited the two candidates, asking that they appear on separate airings of “BET Nightly News” to speak on issues important to the channel’s viewers. If the candidates accept, the format will be decided with input by each campaign, BET said.

“It’s time that both candidates send a true signal of seriousness to African-American voters that our issues, opinions and, ultimately, our votes really matter,” Mr. Johnson said.

Giuliani vs. Pataki

“New Yorkers overwhelmingly want former Mayor Rudy Giuliani — and not Gov. Pataki — to run for president in 2008,” the New York Post reported yesterday, citing a new poll.

“The Quinnipiac University survey found 59 percent of New York voters choosing Giuliani and just 19 percent picking Pataki when asked which of the two men they would prefer to see go for the White House. …

“The survey of 1,438 registered voters also found U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, a potential Democratic presidential candidate in 2008, would lose to Giuliani among state voters, but defeat Pataki.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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