WASHINGTON – President Bush has been gaining ground among overall voters as a leader and the man to fight terrorism, but swing voters have been less impressed, a tracking poll suggests.
The National Annenberg Election Survey (search) found that Bush led Democrat John Kerry (search) by 54 percent to 36 percent on handling terrorism in polling from the end of the Republican convention to Sept. 12. The president was seen as a better commander in chief by 52 percent to 39 percent over Kerry.
On both measures, Bush's standing was improved from early August after the Democratic convention. Other polls also have shown Bush growing stronger on various measures after the GOP convention.
But among swing voters, those who are undecided or say they might vote for another candidate, Bush appeared to lose some ground in the Annenberg survey and was no stronger than he was in August on the issues of fighting terrorism or being the better commander in chief.
Overall, the Annenberg study found the president received some bounce after the GOP convention on various measures, but that appeared to be declining through the week of polling. Bush's job approval was in the mid-50s early in the period and declined to near 50 percent.
For swing voters, Bush's job approval has declined from the 50s in mid-August to the mid-40s. That may be caused at least partially by Bush solidifying his support and removing some backers from the swing voters group.
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center, said Wednesday that news reports that focus on one candidate leading can affect public perceptions of the campaign and be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The polling from Sept. 3-12 of 2,385 registered voters has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points, slightly higher for swing voters.