John Kerry has erased President Bush’s lead in the swing state of Pennsylvania, according to a poll that found growing opposition to the war in Iraq.
Democrat Kerry is supported by 44 percent of the state’s registered voters while 41 percent favor Republican Bush, making the race about even, according to the poll released Thursday by Quinnipiac University. Independent Ralph Nader draws 6 percent and 7 percent are undecided.
A similar poll in April showed Bush leading with 45 percent to Kerry’s 39 percent.
Only 42 percent of the respondents in the new poll said the war in Iraq was “the right thing for the United States to do,” continuing a decline from 52 percent in a March poll.
Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Connecticut-based university’s polling institute, said the shift coincided with the beheading of Pennsylvania businessman Nicholas Berg in Iraq and charges against Pennsylvania soldiers in the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison.
“Pennsylvania voters turned against the war for the first time when it dramatically came home,” he said.
But 49 percent of the respondents said the economy is the issue that will most influence their votes for president. Twenty-five percent cited the war, and 22 percent picked the threat of terrorism.
Bush’s job-approval rating slid to 41 percent. Bush lost Pennsylvania in 2000 but has visited the state frequently as president in hopes of carrying it in November.
The institute surveyed 701 registered voters by telephone on Monday and Tuesday. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.