In June, during a period encompassing the death of Ronald Reagan and the magnificent memorial services in Reagan??¢â???¬â???¢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??¢â???¬â???¢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??¢â???¬â???¢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??¢â???¬â???¢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??¢â???¬â???¢s job approval rating in that poll is now 51%. In June 1984, President Reagan??¢â???¬â???¢s was 53%. In June 1996, President Clinton??¢â???¬â???¢s was 52%. By contrast, in June 1980, President Carter??¢â???¬â???¢s was only 31%, while in June 1992, President George H.W. Bush??¢â???¬â???¢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.