June Gave Bush a Bounce in National Polls

In June, during a period encompassing the death of Ronald Reagan and the magnificent memorial services in Reagan’s honor, President Bush got a bounce in national polls tracking the presidential race.

The nationwide USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll gave Bush a net 7-point jump. In the poll conducted June 3-6, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry led Bush 50% to 44%. But in the same poll conducted June 21-23 (before the surprise June 28 handover of sovereignty to Iraq’s interim government), Bush led Kerry, 49% to 48%.


Other polls showed similar trends. A nationwide New York Times poll conducted May 20-23, showed Kerry leading Bush, 49% to 41%. But in the same poll conducted June 23-27, Kerry led Bush by only 45% to 41%. When Ralph Nader was added, Bush led Kerry, 43% to 42%, with Nader taking 5%. A Fox News poll of registered voters conducted June 22-23, put Bush over Kerry, 48% to 42%. When Nader was added, Bush led Kerry, 47% to 40%, with Nader taking 3%. George Washington University’s Battleground Poll put Kerry over Bush, 49% to 48% in March, but in June it had Bush and Kerry exactly tied, 48% to 48%.


The incumbent’s job approval rating has been a key indicator in recent presidential elections. On this score, Bush is doing well, according to Republican pollster Ed Goeas, who, along with Democrat Celinda Lake, conducts the Battleground Poll. Bush’s job approval rating in that poll is now 51%. In June 1984, President Reagan’s was 53%. In June 1996, President Clinton’s was 52%. By contrast, in June 1980, President Carter’s was only 31%, while in June 1992, President George H.W. Bush’s was 38%.


Some statewide polls augur even better for Bush. In 2000, Gore beat Bush in Pennsylvania, 50% to 46%. But a Fox News poll completed June 23, had Bush beating Kerry there, 47% to 44%. In 2000, Gore beat Bush in Michigan, 51% to 46%. Now the state is in play. The Fox News poll has Kerry nosing Bush, 44% to 43% in a two-way race. But when Nader is added, Bush beats Kerry, 42% to 40%, with Nader taking 5%. In 2000, Gore defeated Bush in Wisconsin by a mere 5,708 votes. This year, Bush has maintained a lead in that state. A University of Wisconsin poll in March put Bush ahead of Kerry, 47% to 41%, with 5% going to Nader. The same poll completed June 23 had Bush leading Kerry, 46% to 42%, with Nader taking 5%. Kerry has scheduled two campaign trips to Wisconsin for July.