The latest Gallup poll shows Bush and Kerry tied at 49%, but Bush ahead slightly with registered voters. It’s clear that Bush’s poor debate performance has hurt him in the polls. However, the Gallup poll was taken Friday through Sunday. For whatever reason, weekend polls tend to dramatically depress Republican numbers, especially polls on Sundays. (Given that GOP voting is strongly correlated to church attendance, this isn’t a big surprise.) It would be interesting to see how the numbers play out over a larger sample set. So far we have Newsweek using skewed numbers to show a major Kerry surge, Rassmussen’s daily tracking poll showing the race largely unchanged, and Gallup’s weekend poll showing the race dead even. However, based on the ABC and Gallup snap-polls taken before and after the debates, it would appear that the number of voters that changed their minds post-debate is relatively small. By mid-week there should be enough polling to give a clear indication of how accurate those snap polls were.
The question is now how Bush will respond. Bush did an abysmal job of countering Kerry in the debates, but Kerry provided plenty of fodder for the Bush team to work with in attack ads later. From giving the Iranian mullahs nuclear fuel to bilateral talks with North Korea for subjecting American action to a “global test,” Kerry’s foreign policy plans are foolish at best and dangerous at worst. Unfortunately Bush didn’t call Kerry on many of his assertions, but they will not go unchallenged for long.