(1) In a boffo write-up of his paper's latest poll, the Los Angeles Times' Brownstein reports that "while the new questions about Bush's initial response to the terrorist threat could pose a long-term problem for him, the poll suggests the controversy has not significantly changed the dynamics propelling the country toward another close presidential race." LINK
Writes Brownstein, the Times' "survey found presumed Democratic nominee John F. Kerry holding a 49% to 46% advantage over Bush among registered voters, a difference within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points."
The President's "overall approval rating" is "at 51%, with 44% disapproving."
There is tons and tons of Richard Clarke-related data, as well as tons and tons of Bush-Kerry stuff.
Brownstein is always fascinated by right track/wrong track, and this data set shows that perhaps getting a bit worse for the President.
BC04 strategist Matthew Dowd tells The Note about the poll: "As I have said, I think the equilibrium point of this race right now is tied, which means some polls will show us up a bit (Gallup) and some down a bit, and others tied. It should be this way until the Democratic convention."
(2) The AP's Leigh Strope Notes that "Unemployment rates increased in February in nine of 17 battleground states that could decide the presidential election in November. LINK
"Jobless rates fell in six of the most contested states and held steady in two others, according to figures released Wednesday by the Labor Department."
The Los Angeles Times' Brownstein scores the rare two-must-reads-in-one-day coup, with his own piece on the employment/battleground overlay. LINK
Jedi Master Brownstein looks at the jobs picture in the all-important swing states and writes "for President Bush and his presumed Democratic challenger, John F. Kerry, the most important figures may be the large job losses in Ohio and Missouri and the smaller decline in Pennsylvania. Among them, the three states account for 52 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House." LINK
We promise the graph following the one above is a must-read all by itself!
(3) John Kerry has picked an inopportune time to drop off the radar, write Adam Nagourney and Jodi Wilgoren of the New York Times, as Bush seems to be at his weakest Kerry has not been able to stay in the spotlight. The Times' dynamic duo toggles effortlessly back and forth between glass-half-full and glass-half-empty for the Democratic nominee presumptive. LINK
(4) The Baltimore Sun's Susan Baer profiles two strong influences behind Vice President Cheney -- his two daughters, Liz and Mary, Noting that each one, "somewhat incidentally, casts a light on one of the flashpoints of the 2004 presidential campaign -- one, a pillar of the administration's foreign policy; the other, the chief cultural clash of the election so far." LINK
"On the issue of gay marriage, Liz Cheney says she agrees with the stance her father articulated as a vice presidential candidate in 2000 when he said he thought the issue should be left to the states . . . Liz would not describe her sister's position on the issue, but she says Mary has discussed the topic with her father."
Baer neatly lays out both daughters professional and personal history, Noting Mary's public career working on outreach to gays and lesbians and Liz's experience in foreign affairs, particularly in the Middle East, and the role they will play in the campaign.