It is becoming crystal clear that George W. Bush and John Kerry are virtually guaranteed a down-to-the-wire battle for the White House. What should be troubling to both candidates is that they are trending slightly downward in their overall support.
The latest InsiderAdvantage survey, conducted with our research partners The Marketing Workshop, asked the following:
If the presidential election were held today, for whom would you vote?
George W. Bush....42 percent
John Kerry............40 percent
Ralph Nader...........4 percent
Someone else.........4 percent
The poll was conducted June 25-26 among 500 voters nationwide and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.
For those who have followed our monthly surveys of this race, it should stand out that the combined categories of Nader/Someone else/Undecided now seems to be growing. Normally, by this point in the race, it should be shrinking. A full 18 percent of respondents currently support neither Bush nor Kerry.
Where these voters ultimately will land, if they vote at all, is anyone's guess. The highly charged political climate has pushed decided voters definitely into one camp or another. For months, the lead has flip-flopped between Bush and Kerry, but always by small increments. We have not seen such low levels of support for the two frontrunners at any point in our months of polling.
With so many "wildcard" voters out there, it's reasonable to start asking: What on Earth, if anything, might move them to take sides? Will it be something like the surprise early turnover of Iraq to the new coalition government? Only if there is smooth sailing for the Iraqi leadership in a land where smooth sailing is virtually impossible.
Could it be a sudden decision on the part of Americans to cling to Kerry's current messages of a tax cut "for the middle class," coupled with promises of health care for all? Only if he can answer how all of that can be achieved without increasing the very fiscal deficit he so loudly denounces.
It's looking more and more like this race will hinge on last-minute words, national events, some major slip-up by one of the candidates, or perhaps something as unexpected as, say, a movie.
Michael Moore is clearly a man on an extremely biased mission. He and those who backed his documentary/motion picture "Fahrenheit 9/11" make no bones about their hope that the film's success will influence particularly younger voters by infuriating them and provoking them to turn out to vote against Bush in record numbers.