updated 9/14/2006 6:46:22 PM ET 2006-09-14T22:46:22

Tuesday brought the last big wave of primaries, and some Democrats are riding high on big wins and strong national numbers. But a new poll may bring them back down by highlighting a nagging problem: Republicans' grip on security issues.

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ABC News surveyed more than 850 registered voters and found that they preferred Democrats over Republicans to deal with the nation's big problems in general. Democrats were ahead by 6 points in the generic congressional matchup.

On terrorism issues, however, respondents veered right. Forty-eight percent said they trusted Republicans more than Democrats to handle the fight against terrorism. There was a 7-point difference between the two parties -- a big swing from the 8-point lead the Democrats held in ABC's measure just a month ago.

Iraq also might cause a few headaches for Democrats. Respondents were about evenly divided on which party could better handle the war -- another big change from earlier polls that had them up as much as 14 points.

The war and terrorism are usually near the top of Americans' lists of important issues, both in general and in deciding votes for Congress, underlining their importance at the polls in November. The calendar is certainly a factor: The poll was taken just before the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks; terrorism and related concerns may have figured more prominently in respondents' minds than they would have a month or two earlier.

Question wording might be pushing the numbers, as well. Gallup pollsters recently asked which party would "do a better job of protecting the country from international terrorism and military threats" and found the two parties statistically even. (The ABC poll asked only about their handling of "the U.S. campaign against terrorism," without language referring to protection or other dangers.)

Domestic issues -- Democrats' bread and butter -- are still working in their favor. Gallup showed Democrats nearly 20 points ahead on keeping the country prosperous; ABC had them leading by double digits on handling the economy and gas prices.

CAMPAIGN CHECK: Jostling In Jersey & Inching In Iowa
New Jersey 's Senate race took on a new dimension this week, with charges of shady real estate deals and vicious political vendettas. A new poll from GOP firm Strategic Vision shows Tom Kean Jr. (R) pulling slightly ahead of Sen. Bob Menendez (D), 44 percent to 40 percent. Sixteen percent -- more than enough to make the difference -- were undecided.

The survey indicates a shift in the race's momentum: Menendez, who was appointed to the seat in January 2006, had once been slightly ahead in most Garden State surveys. July's Strategic Vision (R) poll had him up by 6 points.

Meanwhile, a Research 2000 survey has new numbers on another potential squeaker. Iowa's gubernatorial race between Chet Culver (D) and Rep. Jim Nussle (R) looks tight, with Nussle trailing Culver by 5 points, 48 percent to 43 percent, and 9 percent undecided.

Gwen Glazer is managing editor at

Copyright 2012 by National Journal Group Inc.


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