Reasons Why People Are Voting for Bush or Kerry

by Joseph Carroll and Frank Newport

Bush voters satisfied with his performance; Kerry voters want Bush’s ouster

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup's latest poll, conducted Sept. 13-15, shows President George W. Bush's lead over Democratic challenger John Kerry growing wider than at any other time over the past several months.

But what's behind the support of each of these two candidates? The Sept. 13-15 poll asked Americans in an open-ended question to give the one or two most important reasons why they are voting for their particular candidate.

The results show that Bush supporters (those who say they would vote for Bush if the election was held today) generally are voting on the basis of the president's performance, his stance on terrorism, and his leadership qualities. Kerry supporters generally say they want to get Bush out of the White House, but a substantial number also say they are voting for Kerry because of their opinion about the war in Iraq and the current administration's policies on terrorism or national security.

Bush Supporters Say…

Bush supporters are most likely to say they would vote to re-elect Bush because they approve of his job performance and his policies. The most frequently mentioned response is that Bush simply is "doing a good job," mentioned by 27% of registered Bush voters. The next most frequently mentioned responses are Bush's stances on Iraq, terrorism, and national security, mentioned by 21% of registered Bush voters, and his leadership qualities, mentioned by 20%. Roughly one in six registered voters say they are voting for Bush because he is honest or ethical (16%) and because Bush has "good moral values/religious beliefs" (15%).

 

What Are the Most Important One or Two Reasons Why You Would Vote for
George W. Bush?

2004 Sep 13-15

Registered Bush voters

 

%

Doing a good job/satisfied with job performance

27

War issues/stance on terrorism/national security

21

Leadership quality/better candidate for the job

20

Honesty/integrity/ethics

16

Good moral values/religious beliefs

15

Favor his agenda/ideas/platforms/goals

6

Like Bush/good character

6

Abortion issues

5

Not a good time for change

4

Economic issues

3

Dislike Kerry/poor character

3

Tax issues

2

Military experience

1

Healthcare

1

Dissatisfied with Kerry's job performance

1

Foreign policy/improved international stance

1

Jobs/unemployment

1

Providing for the elderly

1

Education

*

   

Other

10

None

2

No opinion

*

Total

146%

   

Numbers add to more than 100% due to multiple responses.

 

* Less than 0.5%

 

BASED ON 468 REGISTERED VOTERS WHO WOULD VOTE FOR BUSH; ±5 PCT. PTS.

 
Kerry Supporters Say…

More than one in four registered voters who support Kerry say they are voting for Kerry because they want Bush out of office (18%) or more simply they dislike Bush (9%). About one in four say they favor Kerry either because of his platforms and policy goals (13%) or because they favor the Democratic Party more generally (11%). A roughly equal proportion cites the specific issues of the war in Iraq and terrorism (13%), and the economy (11%).

 

What Are the Most Important One or Two Reasons Why You Would Vote for
John Kerry?

2004 Sep 13-15

Registered Kerry voters

 

%

Want/need change/get Bush out of office/dissatisfied with Bush

18

War issues/stance on terrorism/national security

13

Favor his agenda/ideas/platforms/goals

13

Economic issues

11

Favor the Democratic Party

11

Dislike Bush/poor character

9

Healthcare

8

Leadership quality/better candidate for the job

8

Like Kerry/good character

7

Foreign policy/improved international stance

6

Honesty/integrity/ethics

6

Jobs/unemployment

5

Military experience

4

More favorable of middle class

2

Education

1

Tax issues

1

Providing for the elderly

1

Doing good job/satisfied with job performance

1

Abortion

1

Good moral values/religious beliefs

*

   

Other

12

None

1

All

*

No opinion

2

Total

141%

   

Numbers add to more than 100% due to multiple responses.

 

* Less than 0.5%

 

BASED ON 403 REGISTERED VOTERS WHO WOULD VOTE FOR KERRY; ±5 PCT. PTS.

Men and Women Differ in Reasons for Voting for Bush, Kerry

As the following tables illustrate, there are slight differences in the reasons given by men and women who support each of the two candidates.

The main reasons why men are voting for Bush include his leadership qualities (mentioned by 28% of male registered voters), satisfaction with Bush's job performance thus far (25%), and issues relating to Iraq, terrorism, and national security (22%). For women who support Bush, the most important reasons include overall satisfaction with Bush's handling of the presidency (30%), Bush's moral values/religious beliefs (22%), and issues regarding Iraq and terrorism (20%).

There has been some discussion of the fact that Bush may be appealing more to women in this election year because of their concern about national security issues. But the data show that there is little difference in the percentage of women who would vote for Bush and men who would vote for Bush in terms of explaining their vote in reference to terrorism or national security. The largest difference between the genders comes in the "moral values/religious beliefs" category, cited by 22% of women compared with only 10% of men.

 

What Are the Most Important One or Two Reasons Why You Would Vote for
George W. Bush?

Registered Voters
2004 Sep 13-15


Men


Women

 

%

%

Leadership quality/better candidate for the job

28

16

Doing a good job/satisfied with job performance

25

30

War issues/stance on terrorism/national security

22

20

Honesty/integrity/ethics

17

18

Good moral values/religious beliefs

10

22

Like Bush/good character

6

7

Favor his agenda/ideas/platforms/goals

5

7

Abortion issues

4

7

Not a good time for change

4

4

Economic issues

4

2

Dislike Kerry/poor character

2

4

Tax issues

2

2

Foreign policy/improved international stance

2

*

Military experience

1

1

Dissatisfied with Kerry's job performance

1

1

Healthcare

1

*

Jobs/unemployment

*

1

Providing for the elderly

*

1

Education

*

*

* Less than 0.5%

Both male and female Kerry supporters appear to be about equally likely to choose Kerry as a vote against Bush. Thirty percent of men say they either want Bush out of the White House (22%) or dislike him (8%). Among women, 29% either want Bush out of office (17%) or dislike him (12%).

Beyond their desire to see Bush voted out of office, men and women show some slight differences in their reasons for supporting Kerry. Men say they are voting for Kerry because of economic issues (18%), issues regarding Iraq and terrorism (14%), Kerry's honesty and integrity (11%), and their preference for Kerry's platforms (10%). Women, meanwhile, say they would vote for Kerry because of his goals and agenda (18%), their preference for the Democratic Party (16%), and issues about the war and terrorism (13%).

The largest two differences between men and women in the reasons they give for their support of Kerry are economic issues (cited by 18% of men and 8% of women) and party loyalty (cited by 5% of men and 16% of women).

 

What Are the Most Important One or Two Reasons Why You Would Vote for
John Kerry?

Registered Voters
2004 Sep 13-15


Men


Women

 

%

%

Want/need change/get Bush out of office/dissatisfied with Bush

22

17

Economic issues

18

8

War issues/stance on terrorism/national security

14

13

Honesty/integrity/ethics

11

4

Favor his agenda/ideas/platforms/goals

10

18

Dislike Bush/poor character

8

12

Jobs/unemployment

8

4

Healthcare

7

9

Leadership quality/better candidate for the job

7

9

Like Kerry/good character

6

7

Foreign policy/improved international stance

6

7

Military experience

6

3

Favor the Democratic Party

5

16

More favorable of middle class

3

2

Tax issues

2

1

Doing good job/satisfied with job performance

2

*

Providing for the elderly

1

1

Abortion

1

1

Good moral values/religious beliefs

1

*

Education

*

3

* Less than 0.5%

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,022 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Sept. 13-15, 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.

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