Matt Towery

 Several weeks ago, our InsiderAdvantage national presidential survey showed George W. Bush retaking the lead in the race for president. Now it appears that Bush has enjoyed far more of a "bump" in support from the Republican convention than Sen. John Kerry did from the Democratic convention.

 With less than two months until Election Day, the race boils down to two or three critical events. Perhaps foremost will be the articulated messages and the voter turnouts in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. There are other "battleground" states, for sure. But most experts, including Bush's own campaign manager, now acknowledge that the candidate who can win the day in two of these three states will likely inhabit the White House come January.

 Key in those states and many others will be the outcome of the coming presidential debates, perhaps the most telling campaign events of all. If Kerry's preparation and performance are as lacking in coherent message and strategic oversight as they were during the Democratic convention, he likely will doom his chances of winning the election. At the same time, if Bush responds flippantly or shallowly to Kerry attacks on his stewardship of the economy or the Iraq war, such a misstep will cost him.

 As I've noted before, the race will likely come down to arrogance, or the perception of it. Bush at the GOP convention smartly and humorously dismissed the charge of arrogance against him when he described his alleged swagger as "what we in Texas call walking." Will voters in key states buy this seemingly newfound humbleness? Will Kerry -- dressing casually and looking as if his nose were tilted slightly upward to get a sniff of fine French Bordeaux -- come across as an elitist trying to play the everyday man?

 Here's what Americans had to say when asked, "Who do you think is more arrogant?"

John Kerry.........40 percent
George Bush......36 percent
Don't know.........24 percent

 The poll was conducted Aug. 13-14 among 500 Americans. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

 Congratulations, Sen. Kerry. You have somehow managed to win the sweepstakes as "most arrogant" against a president some have accused of trying to be the puppet master of the whole planet. For any doubters out there, consider the Kerry strategy. He has clumsily kept beating the dead horse of his Vietnam career while completely mishandling the attacks on that same war record. Meanwhile, as the economy spins aimlessly, he has yet to find a meaningful message that will turn economic uncertainty into votes for him.

Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a pollster, attorney, businessman and former elected official. He served as campaign strategist for Congressional, Senate, and gubernatorial campaigns. His latest book is Newsvesting: Use News and Opinion to Grow Your Personal Wealth. Follow him on Twitter @MattTowery