Despite a week in which the nation was abuzz with talk of a Bill Clinton-like scandal, Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry now leads President Bush by 4 percentage points in the latest Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll.
As of this morning, Kerry attracts support from 48 percent of the nation's likely voters, while Bush is the choice for 44 percent, according to the survey.
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On the key issue of managing the economy, the candidates are practically even. Forty-six percent of voters prefer Bush on the economy while 44 percent prefer Kerry.
Just 37 percent of the public see Kerry as a political liberal, while a narrow plurality see him as a moderate.
The poll is bad news for Bush because most of the public is relatively optimistic about the economy – always a critical issue for an incumbent. A report issued last week shows that 31 percent of American workers say their firms are hiring at this time. Only 16 percent are decreasing their workforce. The number of workers worried about losing their job has fallen to the lowest level in a year.
Bush does even more poorly against an unnamed Democratic opponent, suggesting his own negatives in the public's mind are a bigger factor than his opponents' high marks. In a hypothetical match-up between Bush and a generic Democrat, Bush trails by 6, 43 percent to 49 percent.