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Voters see Carter as the most competent candidate in foreign affairs, Reagan most able in economic matters, and Anderson generally gets a lower competency rating than his percentage of popular support would suggest.

A Gallup poll released Sunday asked which of the three contenders would do a better job in each of nine areas, regardless of whom the voter preferred.

The strongest signals were that Carter is most likely to keep the US out of war and reduce racial problems. These are seen as Reagan's weakest areas. Carter was also considered best able to deal with both the Soviet Union and the Iranian situation.

Reagan, on the other hand, is viewed as most likely to reduce inflation and government spending, two of Carter's softest spots.

Anderson generally polled a half to a third as many votes in each area as did the other two. He is perceived weakest in foreign affairs, strongest in building trust in government.

Business chief executives rated Ronald Reagan both most capable of handling the economy and most likely to win the fall election in a Gallup/Wall Street Journal poll released earlier last week. Reagan drew roughly five times the support either Carter or Anderson, who were nearly equal, inspired on economic capability.m

Ronald Reagan's coattails may boost the Grand Old Party to grandeur again, as GOP leaders have visions of a Republican takeover in Congress.

Reagan himself recently expressed his growing optimism that, after 25 years of Democratic control of Congress, the Republicans could "win the whole enchilada" this year.

The Republican Party has, in fact, gained around since early in the year, according to a Gallup poll released June 26. The poll asked voters which party they would vote for if electing Congress now.

The Democrats drew about the same support as in February (53 percent), but the Republicans increased their share from 37 to 41 percent -- drawing from third-party and uncommitted voters.

The GOP has made progress, but is still a minority party.

John Anderson rejected reported appeals from GOP leaders that he endorse Republican congressional candidates. Many think Anderson's campaign may hurt the chances of GOP hopefuls. Anderson opted to leave congressional races alone, rather than balancing endorsements between parties or jeopardizing his standing as an independent.m

Political pressure for a tax cut is a growing din in January Carter's ears.

Republicans and Democrats have both called each other's tax-cut ideas the same names -- "tinker" tax-cuts and "election-year gimmickry" -- but both are pushing for a cut.

Senate Democrats killed Reagan's bill on June 26 and, in the same breath, promised their own proposal by Sept. 3.

The White House, taken by surprise by the Democratic move, is now put in a position to either go public with its own proposal or be left behind by the tax-cut bandwagon.

When does firmness with the Soviet Union become war-mongering?

The biggest question mark in the Reagan candidacy may be his conduct of foreign policy.

Former President Ford, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published last week said, "I'm a little apprehensive at this point," in regard to Reagan's choice of foreign policy advisers.

European officials, too, are reported to be apprehensive about Reagan, who is seen abroad as a largely unknown quantity. The foremost concern seems to be that he would precipitate war.

Reagan's national security adviser, Richard Allen, said June 26 that while Reagan was likely to spend more on defense than Carter, the candidate did not support an all-out arms race with the Soviet Union. Allen said that he and other Reagan advisers have already been meeting with Soviet diplomats and academics.m

One down; 49 to go? Will Anderson ballot obstacles fall down like dominoes?

John Anderson survived a legal attempt, at least partly sponsored by the Democratic Party, to keep his name off the Massachusetts ballot. The state Ballot Law Commission ruled in his favor June 27.

Anderson expected the ruling to end similar legal challenges in other states by what he termed "paid political hit men."

Whether the ruling will stand as a precendent, clearing a path for Anderson's name on other state ballots and discouraging more suits against him, remains uncertain. But the Massachusetts victory is important itself as a key Northern industrial state that perhaps holds Anderson's strongest support.m

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