Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Who’d win Nov. 2005 election? Maybe Kerry

Who’d win Nov. 2005 election? Maybe Kerry

President Bush’s poor poll numbers have some people wondering how he would have fared if the November 2004 election were held this year instead.

And it would not be surprising if Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) thought he would have a good shot at winning the White House in just such a hypothetical race.

But when asked about it in a brief interview, Kerry did not want to give a confident prediction.

“I do not do hypotheticals and speculations,” he told The Hill, pointing instead to the wisdom of recent polls.

“I do know that there were polls on television the last few days that answered that question. I think Bill O’Reilly had a poll, CNN had a poll that showed that I would have won, but it is not for me to be making any judgments about that. I am moving on to the future.”

Is that a hint? Many people believe Kerry is already running for the 2008 Democratic nomination, although he is not a declared candidate.

CBS and Fox News, in fact, conducted the recent polls. Even though the results favor Kerry, the two polls do not show that, if the election were held today, he would decisively win a hypothetical contest against Bush.

Released Nov. 7, the CBS poll found the results might be different from those of a year ago if the presidential election were held today.

Forty-one percent of the likely voters polled said that they would have voted for Kerry, while 36 percent said they would have voted for Bush. However, 13 percent said that they would have voted for someone else and 6 percent responded that they would not have voted at all.

The Fox poll indicates that 6 percent of the people who say they voted for Bush last year would vote for Kerry today.

In the past few months, the Bush administration has had to fend off allegations of national-security leaks, attacks on the justification for the Iraq war and questions about clandestine military detention centers, and Kerry has been trying to capitalize on the momentum.

During the 2004 elections, Kerry was haunted by the perception that he would not take a clear stand for or against the war in Iraq. Last Thursday, Kerry gave a floor speech in support of an action plan in Iraq, which he introduced last month. Called the Strategy for Success in Iraq Act, the plan would bring home 20,000 troops after the Iraqi elections. It also demands benchmarks for success.

Democratic leaders attempted to attach a similar withdrawal-related amendment calling on the White House to supply estimated dates of when it would bring the troops home and to provide quarterly reports to Congress and the public on progress in Iraq. That amendment failed, but the Senate adopted a GOP version that requires reports on the progress in Iraq and reflects growing bipartisan unease with the White House’s Iraqi policy. Kerry voted against the GOP amendment.

While the Senate is split along party lines when it comes to imposing a timetable for withdrawing the troops from Iraq, the revelation that the United States has employed clandestine detention centers in Eastern Europe to interrogate people believed to be terrorists likely played a role in the Senate’s overwhelming support last week for one of Kerry’s amendments to the 2006 defense authorization bill. Its success marked a major bipartisan victory for the defeated Democratic nominee for president.

Kerry introduced an amendment yesterday that would impose a level of accountability on the intelligence community for operating the secret detainee prisons overseas. The Senate voted 82-9 in favor of the amendment, which calls on both the secretary of defense and the national intelligence director to provide classified information to the Senate Armed Services Committee on all the overseas locations for the detention facilities.

Presidential hopefuls Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) voted in favor of the amendment, as did McCain.


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