KELO and the Argus-Leader are now beginning to report the Bush-Kerry numbers from the recent poll they sponsored. The first KELO story doesn’t come as a shock on the surface. “If the election was held today, Bush would get 51% of the vote, compared to John Kerry’s 35%, 4% would vote for Ralph Nader, 10% are undecided.” Bush has a 49% “favorable” rating and a 32% unfavorable rating while 19% have evidently been doing nothing but watching reality TV programs the last four years and are “neutral” on Bush. On the other hand, Kerry has a 27% favorable rating, a 39% unfavorable rating, and 33% are neutral.
The KELO story plays this as “South Dakotans still like Bush” while the initial Argus article focuses on Bush’s “double-digit lead.” I think that’s too simplistic. We have an incumbent Republican president who outpolled Gore 60%-38% four years ago now getting 51% against a guy with a 39% unfavorable rating. Additionally, Bush’s 49% favorable rating closely matches historic GOP voter registration percentages. To me, that indicates the GOP base is about all Bush is holding on to. I’m no professional pundit, but this limited information leads me to believe Bush is seeing serious erosion in support. And if he’s seeing it here, it can happen anywhere.
Perhaps there will be more clarity tomorrow when some of the trend numbers show up in the Argus article and later in the week when some stories on some Bush-specific numbers are slated to run.