With the nation closing ranks behind the president in a crisis, Jimmy Carter has swept to a massive 59-to-36 percent lead over Ronald Reagan in the latest ABC News-Harris Survey test. By contrast, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has now slipped behind Reagan by 49 to 46 percent.
In early October, Kennedy was ahead of Reagan by an overwhelming 64 to 34 percent and Carter lagged behind the former California governor by 52 to 45 percent.
Thus, in 10 weeks, Carter and Kennedy have traded places in the 1980 races. Carter has come from the brink of political disaster to a dominating position, while Kennedy has gone from a soaring lead to a point where a run against Reagan might find him fighting an uphill battle.
These latest ABC News-Harris Survey results, taken among a nationwide cross-section of 1,500 likely voters between Dec. 14 and Dec. 16, confirm in dramatic terms the recent rise in Carter's politcal fortunes and the commensurate decline of Kennedy's.
In this same survey, Carter also has moved out to a sizable 58-to-38 percent lead over Kennedy among likely Democratic voters in the race for that Party's nomination. At this point, Carter's poll numbers are literally out of sight: far ahead for the nomination and even farther ahead in the November run against the leading GOP aspirant, Reagan.