September 23, 2003

Fun With LexisNexis

A new poll shows Gen. Wesley Clark tied with President Bush:

Clark, a retired Army general, garnered 49 percent support to Bush's 46 percent, which is essentially a tie given the poll's margin of error.

To put that into perspective, let's set the Wayback Machine to October 31, 1995. Chuck Raasch reported in the Chicago Sun-Times that day (no link-- Lexis is a subscription service):

If the presidential election were today, Colin Powell would easily defeat President Clinton and narrowly win a three-way race as an independent against Clinton and Sen. Robert Dole, according to a new poll.

The poll, by Louis Harris and Associates Inc., gave Powell a 49 percent to 33 percent advantage in a two-way race against Clinton, with 14 percent saying they probably would not vote, and another 4 percent saying they were not sure.

The difference between the two generals, of course, is that Clark is actually running. But the comparison is illustrative in one respect: at the time that poll was taken, little was known about Powell's policy positions; the same is true of Clark. (In Clark's case, his positions appear to be unknown even to Clark himself.)

Unlike Powell, Clark actually has to start articulating specific positions on a whole range of issues-- not just a whole range of positions on a specific issue. Which is to say that Clark's current level of popularity is at least as likely to be a ceiling as a floor, if not more so.

UPDATE: I seem to have won the lottery for the first link in the Carnival-- welcome new traffic! For an earlier post on Clark/Powell parallels, check here. And feel free to explore the rest of the site.

Posted by John Tabin at September 23, 2003 01:48 PM