KERRY vs. BUSH….This may be the most important graphic you’ll see in the entire campaign. According to the latest Washington Post-ABC poll:

  • George Bush’s approval rating for handling the war on terrorism is at 50% and falling.

  • Even more important, Kerry now outscores Bush in his perceived ability to handle terrorism by 48% to 47%.

This is huge. In a rare instance of complete agreement with Bill Kristol, I think the economy is basically a wash this year: good enough to keep Bush in the running but bad enough to give Kerry a chance. Neither man has an overwhelming advantage.

Rather, the race this year will be won or lost on terrorism and national security, an area where Bush had an advantage of 21% over Kerry as recently as April. And I don’t care how his flacks try to spin it, spending $85 million and seeing that number plummet by 22 points is bad, bad news.

I happened to run into Hugh Hewitt at lunch again today ? he lives right across the freeway from me ? and in an effort to keep up a facade of good cheer he offered to make a bet: if Kerry wins he turns over his blog to me for a week; if Bush wins he gets my blog for a week.

I laughed and returned to my sandwich, which is probably a good thing for Hugh. Terrorism is central to Bush’s chances this November, and if his approval ratings on terrorism aren’t at least 10 points ahead of Kerry by October, he’s going down in flames.

Which is exactly what’s happened to every other president who’s won office with fewer popular votes than his opponent. One termers all.

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