On national security issues like Iraq and terrorism, Bush has a huge lead. Adults 18 to 30 trust President Bush over Kerry on Iraq, 60 to 33. They also trust Bush to handle terrorism by a margin of 59 to 35. They say that George W. Bush's policies will make America more secure than John Kerry's, 60 to 31. These levels of support are the highest among any age group. Most of all, people this age believe that George W. Bush is a leader, while John Kerry isn't -- the leadership question goes 65-25 for Bush. John Kerry is at a decided disadvantage in this area because he has made Vietnam his sole credential for national security expertise. Everyone in the 18 to 30 crowd is too young to remember Vietnam, much less care what happened on a swift boat over 30 years ago.
But what about the economy? Thirty-four percent of 18- to 30-year-olds rate the economy as their top priority -- and they support John Kerry over George W. Bush on it. They feel that John Kerry will be better at creating jobs than George W. Bush, 54 to 42 (the highest Kerry support in any age group). They narrowly disapprove of President Bush's economic policy, 49 to 48.
This is missing the most important statistic, however: Seventy percent of 18- to 30-year-olds feel that Americans are either as well off or better off economically than they were when George W. Bush took office. While many of my peers don't buy into President Bush's economic policies, they recognize that after an inherited recession, a series of devastating corporate scandals, and a terrorist attack on American soil, the economy is once again is decent shape.
In economic terms, we're a hopeful generation. We don't believe doomsayers who preach that this is the worst economy since the Great Depression. We don't buy the idea that we'll graduate from college or graduate school and end up bumming around on the streets. So whether or not we agree with President Bush, we're not single-issue voters.
The economy may be our top priority, but we're divided about who should handle it. It's then that we take a step back, look at the larger picture -- and see that national security dictates what happens economically. And on national security, there's no debate. We want strong leadership. We want to take the war to the terrorists. We want George W. Bush.
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