What Will Make Them Swing?

Christopher Hayes

There's a fascinating poll up over at American Demographics about exactly what would finally push undecided voters (or soft supporters of either candidate) off the fence. The surprising (I'd even say shocking) finding: stem cell research is the number one most effective issue in turning Bush voters into Kerry voters: The president could lose his hold on up to 20 percent of the people who say they'd vote for him thanks to an issue that gained momentum in the weeks following former President Reagan's death. According to a new poll done exclusively for American Demographics by Zogby International, if Kerry were to announce a major initiative in stem cell research to cure diseases such as Alzheimer's, which killed Reagan, Parkinson's, diabetes and spinal injuries, Kerry would gain a whopping 11 percent of Bush's voters. What's more, another 9 percent of Bush supporters say they'd switch to a third party, not vote, or be undecided. "This is the 'sleeper issue' of this campaign," says Bob Beckel, a former Democratic presidential candidate strategist. "It's more than just stem cell research--it's the symbolism of announcing a plan to eradicate major diseases, and part of the Baby Boomers' health care crisis." There is a growing public desire for the government to do more to cure diseases that have put the Baby Boomer generation in a squeeze, parenting their own parents while raising children, and struggling to pay for and get health insurance. "In polling, a switch to the competition is a two-fer. So, a switch of 11 percent directly from Bush to Kerry is a total change of 22 percent," Beckel says. In an election where most polls show a dead heat, so significant a change could swing the results. (NB: A lot of the analysis in the article strikes me as completely off the mark, so the take the article itself with a big grain of salt.)

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Christopher Hayes is the host of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes. He is an editor at large at the Nation and a former senior editor of In These Times.
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