- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Catholic voters

President Bush holds a commanding lead among Catholic voters, according to the latest survey of the California-based Barna Research Group.

Barna called this finding a “seismic shift,” United Press International reports. In May, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, who is Catholic, led Mr. Bush, a Methodist, by 48 percent to 43 percent among Catholics. Today, the ratio has changed to 53 percent to 36 percent in Mr. Bush’s favor, reports Barna, which specializes in religious polling.

“Many of the Catholics now behind Mr. Bush have traditionally voted Democratic, but have chosen a different course this time around,” pollster George Barna said.

Catholics make up almost one-quarter — 23 percent — of U.S. voters.

On the flip side, “notional Christians” — those who have not made a personal commitment to Christ — are more likely to support Mr. Kerry. Of this group, consisting chiefly of mainline Protestants, 49 percent told Barna’s researchers that they would choose Mr. Kerry, and 37 percent preferred Mr. Bush.

Atheists and agnostics side with the Massachusetts senator 2-to-1. Notional Christians make up 38 percent of the U.S. electorate; atheists and agnostics make up an estimated 5 percent.

Attack on Gallup

MoveOn.org, the left-wing group that has been acting as an adjunct to the Kerry campaign, took out a full-page ad in the New York Times yesterday to accuse the Gallup poll of “Gallup-ing to the right.”

The ad implied that George Gallup Jr.’s religious beliefs were a source of bias in the company’s polls.

MoveOn.org said the polling company improperly weights Election Day turnout in favor of the Republicans. This, the group said, explains why a Gallup survey last week found President Bush leading Sen. John Kerry by 14 percentage points.

“George Gallup Jr., son of the poll’s founder, was the longtime head of the company and now directs its non-profit research center,” the ad said. “Why hasn’t he pushed for an update of the company’s likely-voter modeling, which his own father pioneered in the 1950s?

“Gallup, who is a devout evangelical Christian, has been quoted as calling his polling ‘a kind of ministry.’ And a few months ago, he said ‘the most profound purpose of polls is to see how people are responding to God.’

“We thought the purpose is to faithfully and factually report public opinion.”

Michigan tie

President Bush has moved into a statistical tie with Sen. John Kerry in Michigan, according to a poll.

Mr. Kerry led Mr. Bush by two percentage points, well within the margin of error of 4.1 percentage points. The survey was conducted by Lansing, Mich.-based Marketing Resource Group Inc. from Sept. 20 to 24 for the publication Inside Michigan Politics.

It was the Democrat’s smallest edge in three months, and it appears that the number of undecided voters may be expanding slightly, the pollster said. Mr. Kerry leads Mr. Bush 45 percent to 43 percent, with 1 percent for independent candidate Ralph Nader. About 11 percent of the state’s voters said they were undecided.

Fighting back

Minnesota College Republicans vowed yesterday to fight any attempt by University of Minnesota officials to bring Michael Moore to campus for an anti-Bush rally.

College Republicans said they were responding to news reports that university officials are negotiating to bring Mr. Moore to campus as part of his “Slacker Uprising Tour” in support of Sen. John Kerry.

“University of Minnesota students and Minnesota taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to foot the bill to bring this partisan hack, Michael Moore, into town to campaign for John Kerry just days before the election,” said Jake Grassel, chairman of Minnesota College Republicans. “Michael Moore should be free to spout his partisan and vile hate speech, but the rest of us shouldn’t be forced to pay for it.”

Jeb hits back

Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Republican, said yesterday that “conspiracy theories” about the state’s voting machines are “nonsense” and criticized former President Jimmy Carter for questioning whether Florida can hold a fair election, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Carter said in an opinion piece on Monday in The Washington Post that despite changes designed to eliminate voting problems in Florida, conditions for a fair election still do not exist and that a repeat of the disputed 2000 election appeared likely.

“There is this constant haranguing of nonsense, including President Carter — which is a surprise to me, because I’ve admired his compassionate actions in his post-presidential period,” said Mr. Bush, brother of President Bush.

Responding to questions about a newspaper report in which computer analysts said the touch-screen machines that will be used in Tampa could be subject to tampering, the governor said: “That’s bogus. All this conspiracy theory … is just ridiculous.”

Deanna Congileo, a spokeswoman for the Carter Center, said the former president had expressed his views in the article and had no further comment.

Bush’s lead

A poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press poll shows President Bush opening up a substantial lead over Democratic Sen. John Kerry, 48 percent to 40 percent.

The previous Pew poll had the two candidates in a dead heat at 46 percent each.

The Republican president’s gain comes amid more voters’ concerns about Mr. Kerry’s leadership skills than from improving opinions about Mr. Bush, according to the poll taken Sept. 22 to 28.

Alternative debate

More than one presidential debate will take place in Miami tomorrow.

Michael Badnarik and David Cobb, candidates from the Libertarian and Green parties, respectively, also will pitch for votes, only four hours earlier, Agence France-Press reports.

The debate also will include Socialist candidate Walt Brown and Constitution Party candidate Michael Peroutka.

State surrenders

California has conceded defeat in its quest for more clout in picking presidential nominees and is returning to its traditional June primary election for all statewide races.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation Monday that will move the primary back to June, ending the eight-year experiment with a March primary.

The Republican governor also signed a bill that will bar the use of electronic voting machines that don’t produce paper trails to verify votes.

Both measures take effect in 2006, the Associated Press reports.

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

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