Politics

Bush Overtakes Kerry

"Too liberal" tag sticking to Kerry

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- After trailing Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in voter support throughout much of the Democratic primary season, President George W. Bush has taken a slight lead in the race for president. According to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted March 26-28, Bush has picked up four points compared to early March, putting him slightly ahead of Kerry among registered voters: 49% to 46%. Earlier this month, Bush had trailed Kerry by five points, 45% to 50%.

Horse Race -- Recent Trend
registered voters

Third-party candidate Ralph Nader's ultimate impact on the election will greatly depend on his success in petitioning for or otherwise earning placement onto state ballots this fall. But under ideal circumstances, assuming he does appear on most states' ballots, the current poll suggests that 5% of registered voters would back him, taking most of this support from Kerry. With Nader in the race, Kerry's support drops from 46% to 43%, while Bush's support drops from 49% to 48% -- giving Bush a five-point lead for president.

More Good News for Bush

There are several other positive indications of Bush's re-election chances in the new poll. To some degree, these may be logical extensions of his enhanced popularity, rather than causes of it. But there is also some evidence that voters have become less enthralled with Kerry than they were during the excitement of the Democratic primary season.

The percentage of Americans approving of the way Bush is handling his job as president increased slightly over the past month. Just over half the public, 53%, now approves of the way he is handling his job, while 44% disapprove. This is up from 50% approval in mid-March and is a statistically significant improvement over the 49% recorded earlier in the month.

Furthermore, while Bush's favorable image rating from the American people has remained stable at 56% to 57% over the past month, Kerry's favorable image has declined from 60% to 53%.

In retrospect, Kerry's positive image with Americans may have peaked in late January, shortly after he won the New Hampshire primary (following a surprise victory in the Iowa caucuses a week earlier). His win in New Hampshire catapulted him to front-runner status for the Democratic nomination -- and occurred before the Bush campaign began targeting Kerry in earnest. At that point, 61% of Americans had a favorable image of Kerry and only 23% had an unfavorable image of him. His image rating held at the 60% level in mid-February, but today has fallen to 53%. More than a third, 36%, now have an unfavorable image of him.

By contrast, Bush's image rating has held steady since mid-February, with 56% to 57% saying they have a favorable image of the president and 41% to 42% having an unfavorable image. These ratings are not as positive as what he enjoyed prior to the start of the Democratic primary season, but are a notable improvement over the 52% favorable rating he received in late January -- the same time that Kerry's image was soaring.

When factoring in the percentage viewing each candidate unfavorably, Bush and Kerry are about evenly matched today. This is in sharp contrast with the last two image measures taken between late January and mid-February, when Kerry's net favorable image was significantly greater than Bush's. Bush held a strong lead on this comparison in early January, but that was at a point when many Americans were still unfamiliar with Kerry.

Net Favorable Ratings
(% favorable minus % unfavorable)

The "Liberal" Tag Sticking to Kerry

One of the more striking findings in the new poll is the increased public perception that Kerry is "too liberal." Four in 10 Americans (41%) now take this view, up from 29% in late January. At the same time, the percentage saying Kerry's views are "about right" has dropped from 46% to 37%.

Trend in Kerry's Perceived Ideology

By contrast -- and not unexpectedly given Americans' familiarity with the president -- perceptions of Bush's ideology have been quite stable so far this year. Americans are generally split between viewing Bush as too conservative (38%) and about right (40%), while 15% consider him too liberal.

Presumably, the more widely a candidate's views are perceived as "about right," the more appealing he or she will be to voters. Thus, the fact that Kerry has lost ground in this area, while Bush has stood his ground, could be considered a plus for Bush. A comparison of Bush's and Kerry's current ideology ratings shows that they now have near mirror images on this measure. Kerry is about as likely to be seen as too liberal as Bush is to be seen as too conservative, while roughly 4 in 10 Americans perceive both men as about right.

Perceptions of Candidates' Ideology
March 26-28, 2004

More on the Horse Race

There has been no change over the past several weeks in the percentage of Republicans and Democrats supporting their own party's candidate, or in the candidate preferences of independents. Rather, the increase in support for Bush over the past few weeks comes mostly from an increase in the percentage of Americans identifying themselves as Republicans, and a comparable decline in self-identified Democrats. This could be the natural result of a shift in the political environment now that the Democratic primary season has concluded.

Indeed, Gallup also finds that Democratic voters are less likely to score as "likely voters" than they were in February and March. And as a result, the presidential race among likely voters is now very similar to where it stands among registered voters. Among the 50% of Americans deemed most likely to vote this fall, Bush holds a four-point lead over Kerry, 51% vs. 47%.

Among national adults, there has also been a slight increase in support for Bush among men (from 48% to 55%). Women's support for Kerry has remained firm at 51% to 52%.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,001 adults, aged 18 years and older, conducted March 26-28, 2004. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

2. If Massachusetts Senator John Kerry were the Democratic Party's candidate and George W. Bush were the Republican Party's candidate, who would you be more likely to vote for -- [ROTATED: John Kerry, the Democrat (or) George W. Bush, the Republican]?

2A. As of today, do you lean more toward -- [ROTATED: Kerry, the Democrat (or) Bush, the Republican]?

 


Kerry


Bush

NEITHER (vol.)

OTHER
(vol.)

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

Likely Voters

2004 Mar 26-28

47

51

1

--

1

2004 Mar 5-7

52

44

2

1

1

2004 Feb 16-17

55

43

1

*

1

2004 Feb 6-8

48

49

1

*

2

2004 Jan 29-Feb 1

53

46

*

--

1

2004 Jan 9-11

43

55

1

*

1

Registered Voters

2004 Mar 26-28

46

49

2

*

3

2004 Mar 5-7

50

45

2

1

2

2004 Feb 16-17

51

46

2

*

1

2004 Feb 6-8

49

48

1

*

2

2004 Jan 29-Feb 1

51

46

1

--

2

2004 Jan 9-11

40

57

2

--

1

2003 Nov 10-12

46

52

1

--

1

2003 Sep 19-21

48

47

2

1

2

National Adults

2004 Mar 26-28

46

48

3

*

3

2004 Mar 5-7

50

45

3

*

2

2004 Feb 16-17

51

44

3

*

2

2004 Feb 6-8

48

48

2

*

2

2004 Jan 29-Feb 1

52

44

2

--

2

2004 Jan 9-11

40

57

2

--

1

2003 Nov 10-12

44

53

1

--

2

2003 Sep 19-21

47

48

2

1

2

* Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response



3. Are you certain now that you will vote for [John Kerry/George W. Bush] for president next fall, or do you think you may change your mind between now and the November election?

 



Vote for Kerry, certain

Vote for Kerry, may change mind

Vote for Bush, may change mind



Vote for Bush,
certain




No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

Likely Voters

2004 Mar 26-28

40

7

7

44

2

2004 Mar 5-7

45

7

6

38

4

Registered Voters

2004 Mar 26-28

34

12

11

38

5

2004 Mar 5-7

40

10

9

36

5

National Adults

2004 Mar 26-28

34

12

13

35

6

2004 Mar 5-7

39

11

10

35

5



4. Now suppose Ralph Nader runs as an independent candidate, who would you be most likely to vote for -- [ROTATED: Kerry, the Democrat, Bush, the Republican,(or) Nader, the independent]?

4A. As of today, do you lean more toward -- [ROTATED: Kerry, the Democrat, Bush, the Republican,(or) Nader, the independent]?

 


Kerry


Bush


Nader

NONE (vol.)

OTHER
(vol.)

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

Likely Voters

2004 Mar 26-28

45

49

4

1

--

1

2004 Mar 5-7

50

44

2

1

1

2

Registered Voters

2004 Mar 26-28

43

48

5

1

--

3

2004 Mar 5-7

47

45

5

1

*

2

National Adults

2004 Mar 26-28

44

46

7

1

--

2

2004 Mar 5-7

47

44

5

1

1

2

* Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response



6. Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?

GEORGE W. BUSH

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

%

%

%

2004

(NA) 2004 Mar 26-28

53

44

3

(NA) 2004 Mar 8-11

50

47

3

(NA) 2004 Mar 5-7

49

48

3

(NA) 2004 Feb 16-17

51

46

3

(NA) 2004 Feb 9-12

51

46

3

(NA) 2004 Feb 6-8

52

44

4

(NA) 2004 Jan 29-Feb 1

49

48

3

(NA) 2004 Jan 12-15

53

44

3

(NA) 2004 Jan 9-11

59

38

3

(NA) 2004 Jan 2-5

60

35

5

(NA) 2003 Dec 15-16

63

34

3

(NA) 2003 Dec 11-14

56

41

3

(NA) 2003 Dec 5-7

55

43

2

(NA) 2003 Nov 14-16

50

47

3

(NA) 2003 Nov 10-12

51

45

4

(NA) 2003 Nov 3-5

54

43

3

(NA) 2003 Oct 24-26

53

42

5

(NA) 2003 Oct 10-12

56

40

4

(NA) 2003 Oct 6-8

55

42

3

(NA) 2003 Sep 19-21

50

47

3

(NA) 2003 Sep 8-10

52

43

5

(NA) 2003 Aug 25-26

59

37

4

(NA) 2003 Aug 4-6

60

36

4

(NA) 2003 Jul 25-27

58

38

4

(NA) 2003 Jul 18-20

59

38

3

(NA) 2003 Jul 7-9

62

34

4

(NA) 2003 Jun 27-29

61

36

3

(NA) 2003 Jun 12-15

63

33

4

(NA) 2003 Jun 9-10

62

34

4

(NA) 2003 May 30-Jun 1

64

32

4

(NA) 2003 May 19-21

66

30

4

(NA) 2003 May 5-7

69

28

3

(NA) 2003 Apr 22-23

70

26

4

(NA) 2003 Apr 14-16

71

24

5

(NA) 2003 Apr 7-9

69

26

5

(NA) 2003 Apr 5-6

70

27

3

(NA) 2003 Mar 29-30

71

26

3

(NA) 2003 Mar 24-25

69

27

4

(NA) 2003 Mar 22-23

71

25

4

(NA) 2003 Mar 14-15

58

38

4

(NA) 2003 Mar 3-5

57

37

6

(NA) 2003 Feb 24-26

57

37

6

(NA) 2003 Feb 17-19

58

37

5

(NA) 2003 Feb 7-9

61

34

5

(NA) 2003 Feb 3-6

59

35

6

(NA) 2003 Jan 31-Feb 2

61

35

4

(NA) 2003 Jan 23-25

60

36

4

(NA) 2003 Jan 20-22

58

36

6

(NA) 2003 Jan 13-16

61

34

5

(NA) 2003 Jan 10-12

58

37

5

(NA) 2003 Jan 3-5

63

32

5

2002

(NA) 2002 Dec 19-22

61

32

7

(NA) 2002 Dec 16-17

63

33

4

(NA) 2002 Dec 9-10

63

32

5

(NA) 2002 Dec 5-8

64

29

7

(NA) 2002 Nov 22-24

65

28

7

(NA) 2002 Nov 11-14

66

26

8

(NA) 2002 Nov 8-10

68

27

5

(NA) 2002 Oct 31-Nov 3

63

29

8

(NA) 2002 Oct 21-22

67

28

5

(NA) 2002 Oct 14-17

62

31

7

(NA) 2002 Oct 3-6

67

28

5

(NA) 2002 Sep 23-26

68

26

6

(NA) 2002 Sep 20-22

66

30

4

(NA) 2002 Sep 13-16

70

26

4

(NA) 2002 Sep 5-8

66

30

4

(NA) 2002 Sep 2-4

66

29

5

(NA) 2002 Aug 19-21

65

28

7

(NA) 2002 Aug 5-8

68

26

6

(NA) 2002 Jul 29-31

71

23

6

(NA) 2002 Jul 26-28

69

26

5

(NA) 2002 Jul 22-24

69

24

7

(NA) 2002 Jul 9-11

73

21

6

(NA) 2002 Jul 5-8

76

18

6

(NA) 2002 Jun 28-30

76

19

5

(NA) 2002 Jun 21-23

73

21

6

(NA) 2002 Jun 17-19

74

20

6

(NA) 2002 Jun 7-8

74

18

8

(NA) 2002 Jun 3-6

70

23

7

(NA) 2002 May 28-29

77

17

6

(NA) 2002 May 20-22

76

17

7

(NA) 2002 May 6-9

76

19

5

(NA) 2002 Apr 29-May 1

77

20

3

(NA) 2002 Apr 22-24

77

17

6

(NA) 2002 Apr 8-11

75

20

5

(NA) 2002 Apr 5-7

76

19

5

(NA) 2002 Mar 22-24

79

17

4

(NA) 2002 Mar 18-20

79

16

5

(NA) 2002 Mar 8-9

80

14

6

(NA) 2002 Mar 4-7

77

18

5

(NA) 2002 Mar 1-3

81

14

5

(NA) 2002 Feb 8-10

82

14

4

(NA) 2002 Feb 4-6

82

14

4

(NA) 2002 Jan 25-27

84

13

3

(NA) 2002 Jan 11-14

83

13

4

(NA) 2002 Jan 7-9

84

12

4

2001

(NA) 2001 Dec 14-16

86

11

3

(NA) 2001 Dec 6-9

86

10

4

(NA) 2001 Nov 26-27

87

8

5

(NA) 2001 Nov 8-11

87

9

4

(NA) 2001 Nov 2-4

87

9

4

(NA) 2001 Oct 19-21

88

9

3

(NA) 2001 Oct 11-14

89

8

3

(NA) 2001 Oct 5-6

87

10

3

(NA) 2001 Sep 21-22

90

6

4

(NA) 2001 Sep 14-15

86

10

4

(NA) 2001 Sep 7-10

51

39

10

(NA) 2001 Aug 24-26

55

36

9

(NA) 2001 Aug 16-19

57

34

9

(NA) 2001 Aug 10-12

57

35

8

(NA) 2001 Aug 3-5

55

35

10

(NA) 2001 Jul 19-22

56

33

11

(NA) 2001 Jul 10-11

57

35

8

(NA) 2001 Jun 28-Jul 1

52

34

14

(NA) 2001 Jun 11-17

55

33

12

(NA) 2001 Jun 8-10

55

35

10

(NA) 2001 May 18-20

56

36

8

(NA) 2001 May 10-14

56

31

13

(NA) 2001 May 7-9

53

33

14

(NA) 2001 Apr 20-22

62

29

9

(NA) 2001 Apr 6-8

59

30

11

(NA) 2001 Mar 26-28

53

29

18

(NA) 2001 Mar 9-11

58

29

13

(NA) 2001 Mar 5-7

63

22

15

(NA) 2001 Feb 19-21

62

21

17

(NA) 2001 Feb 9-11

57

25

18

(NA) 2001 Feb 1-4

57

25

18

NA National Adults



9. Next, we'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of these people -- or if you have never heard of them. First, ... How about... [ITEM A READ FIRST, THEN ITEMS B-D ROTATED, ITEM E READ LAST]

A. George W. Bush

 

Favorable

Unfavorable

No opinion

%

%

%

2004 Mar 26-28

57

41

2

2004 Feb 16-17

56

42

2

2004 Jan 29-Feb 1

52

47

1

2004 Jan 2-5

65

35

*

2003 Oct 6-8

60

39

1

2003 Jun 27-29

65

34

1

2003 Jun 9-10

66

33

1

2003 Jan 31-Feb 2

68

32

*

2002 Dec 16-17

68

30

2

2002 Sep 23-26

70

28

2

2002 Jul 26-28

71

26

3

2002 May 20-22

80

18

2

2002 Apr 29-May 1

79

19

2

2002 Jan 11-14

83

15

2

2001 Nov 26-27

87

11

2

2001 Aug 3-5

60

35

4

2001 Jun 8-10

62

36

2

2001 Apr 20-22

65

32

3

2001 Mar 9-11

63

32

5

2001 Mar 5-7

69

28

3

2001 Feb 19-21

67

27

6

2001 Feb 1-4

64

33

3

2001 Jan 15-16

62

36

2

2000 Dec 15-17

59

36

4

2000 Dec 2-4

56

40

4

2000 Nov 13-15

53

43

4

2000 Nov 4-5 ^

55

39

6

2000 Oct 24-26 ^

62

33

5

2000 Oct 23-25 ^

60

35

5

2000 Oct 20-22 ^

59

37

4

2000 Oct 5-7 ^

58

36

6

2000 Sep 28-30 ^

55

38

7

2000 Sep 15-17^

51

41

7

2000 Aug 18-19

60

34

6

2000 Aug 4-5

67

28

5

2000 Jul 25-26

63

31

6

2000 Jul 14-16

64

29

7

2000 Jun 23-25

60

31

9

2000 Jun 6-7

64

29

7

2000 Apr 28-30

61

33

6

2000 Mar 10-12

63

32

5

2000 Feb 25-27

57

35

7

2000 Feb 20-21

58

35

7

2000 Feb 4-6

63

31

6

2000 Jan 17-19

66

26

8

1999 Dec 9-12

68

25

6

1999 Oct 21-24

71

21

7

1999 Oct 8-10

70

25

4

1999 Sept 23-26

71

22

6

1999 Aug 16-18

68

21

10

1999 June 25-27

69

16

11

1999 Apr 13-14

73

15

9

1999 Feb 19-21

69

12

14

* Less than 0.5%



B. John Kerry

 


Favorable


Unfavorable

Never
heard of

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2004 Mar 26-28

53

36

3

8

2004 Feb 16-17

60

26

4

10

2004 Jan 29-Feb 1

61

23

6

10

2004 Jan 2-5 ^

31

32

19

18

2003 Nov 10-12 ^

31

24

26

19

2002 Dec 16-17 ^

31

13

32

24

1999 Feb 19-21 ^

30

9

39

22

^

WORDING: Massachusetts Senator John Kerry



10. For each of the following candidates, please say whether you think his political views are too conservative, about right, or too liberal. How about --[RANDOM ORDER]?

A. George W. Bush

 

Too conservative

About
right

Too
liberal

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2004 Mar 26-28

38

40

15

7

2004 Jan 29-Feb 1

39

36

18

7

2000 Aug 18-19

40

41

12

7

2000 Aug 4-5

30

50

13

7

2000 Jul 25-26 ^

30

45

12

13

2000 Mar 10-12

30

47

14

9

2000 Feb 25-27

33

38

16

13

2000 Jan 17-19

27

45

12

16

1999 Oct 8-10

27

50

16

7

^

Asked of a half sample.



B. John Kerry

 

Too conservative

About
right

Too
liberal

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2004 Mar 26-28

9

37

41

13

2004 Jan 29-Feb 1

8

46

29

17



Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/11167/Bush-Overtakes-Kerry.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030