Politics

Bush Leads in Florida; Ohio, Pennsylvania Close

Race tightening in Ohio

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- As the presidential campaign heads into a new phase -- the period around the presidential and vice presidential debates -- new CNN/USA Today/Gallup polls show President George W. Bush leading Democratic nominee John Kerry in Florida, while both candidates are engaged in tighter races in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Third party candidate Ralph Nader only gets as much as 2% of the vote in any of those states, although he was recently removed from the Ohio ballot by a court decision. These three states could easily determine the winner of the upcoming election, as each will reward the winner with 20 or more electoral votes.

Florida

The Florida poll, conducted Sept. 24-27, finds Bush leading Kerry 52% to 43% among likely voters, with Nader at 1%. Among registered voters in that state, Bush has a smaller 49% to 44% lead, with Nader at 2%.

This is the fourth poll Gallup has conducted in Florida since July, and all have shown Bush with at least a slight (if not statistically significant) advantage among likely voters. The new poll shows his largest advantage to date among likely Florida voters.

Bush's current 5-point edge among registered voters matches his previous best, from a July 19-22 poll.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania, a state Al Gore won by 4 percentage points in 2000, has been one of the key fronts in the 2004 election battle. The latest poll, conducted Sept. 25-28, shows Bush at 49% and Kerry at 46% among likely voters, within the poll's four-point margin of error. Nader was just recently ordered onto the Pennsylvania ballot and is supported by 1% of likely voters in that state.

Among registered Pennsylvania voters, Kerry has 49% support, Bush 45%, and Nader 3%, underscoring the uncertainty of that race as well as the importance of voter turnout on Election Day.

While uncertain, the contest in Pennsylvania has been quite stable. In three previous Gallup polls pitting Bush versus Kerry in Pennsylvania (the middle poll did not include Nader), Kerry received 47% of the support among likely voters, while Bush support has ranged between 48% and 50%.

Ohio

The race in Ohio has tightened when compared with an early September poll conducted just after the Republican convention. The current poll shows 50% of Ohio likely voters supporting Bush, 48% Kerry. If Nader were on the Ohio ballot -- something he is hoping to achieve through ongoing legal action -- he would poll 1% today, compared with Bush at 49% and Kerry at 47%.

As in Pennsylvania, Kerry does better among the larger group of registered voters in Ohio. Currently, 50% of registered voters there say they would vote for Kerry if the election were held today, compared with 46% who say Bush.

The previous CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll in Ohio, conducted Sept. 4-7, showed Bush with a 52% to 44% lead among likely voters in the two-candidate race and a 48% to 47% edge among registered voters. Of the three states, the Ohio contest has been the most volatile -- in four polls there each candidate has held a lead and there have been two statistical dead heats.

Looking to the Debates

The first presidential debate will take place Thursday, Sept. 30, in Coral Gables, Florida. In that debate, Kerry and Bush will discuss foreign policy and homeland security issues. The poll asked Florida likely voters which candidate they thought would do better in this debate; 52% say Bush, 37% say Kerry, and 11% have no opinion.

More generally, voters in the three states were asked which candidate could better handle each of four issues -- terrorism, Iraq, relations with other countries, and the economy. The first three promise to be the central focus of the first debate.

There is a general consensus among likely voters in the three states as to which candidate would better handle the issues of terrorism and, to a lesser degree, Iraq. On terrorism, Bush has a large advantage over Kerry in all three states -- by 21 points in Florida, by 19 points in Ohio, and by 16 points in Pennsylvania.

Views of Candidate Better Able to Handle Terrorism

 

Likely Voters

Registered Voters

 

FL
Sep 24-27

OH
Sep 25-28

PA
Sep 25-28

FL
Sep 24-27

OH
Sep 25-28

PA
Sep 25-28

 

%

%

%

%

%

%

John Kerry

37

38

39

36

40

40

George W. Bush

58

57

55

56

54

53

SAME (vol.)

1

2

2

1

2

2

No opinion

4

3

4

7

4

5

On Iraq, Bush tends to have a smaller advantage than he does on terrorism, but still a perceptible edge over Kerry -- by 17 in Florida, by 9 in Ohio, and by 7 in Pennsylvania.

Views of Candidate Better Able to Handle the Situation in Iraq

 

Likely Voters

Registered Voters

 

FL
Sep 24-27

OH
Sep 25-28

PA
Sep 25-28

FL
Sep 24-27

OH
Sep 25-28

PA
Sep 25-28

 

%

%

%

%

%

%

John Kerry

39

44

44

40

45

45

George W. Bush

56

53

51

51

51

48

SAME (vol.)

1

1

1

1

1

2

No opinion

4

2

4

8

3

5

Voters across the three key states are more divided in their views on relations with other countries and on the economy.

In Florida, likely voters give a 10-point advantage to Bush on relations with other countries. In Ohio, Bush has a small advantage, 50% to 46%, while Kerry has a slight edge in Pennsylvania, 50% to 47%.

Views of Candidate Better Able to Handle Relations with Other Countries

 

Likely Voters

Registered Voters

 

FL
Sep 24-27

OH
Sep 25-28

PA
Sep 25-28

FL
Sep 24-27

OH
Sep 25-28

PA
Sep 25-28

 

%

%

%

%

%

%

John Kerry

43

46

50

44

48

50

George W. Bush

53

50

47

49

47

45

SAME (vol.)

1

1

*

1

1

1

No opinion

3

3

3

6

4

4

* Less than 0.5%

While the first debate will not address the economy to a meaningful extent, this issue surely rates as one of the most important in this year's election. Both Ohio and Pennsylvania voters are about evenly divided over who would better handle the economy, while likely voters in Florida give Bush a 10-point advantage on that issue. Among the larger pool of registered voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania, Kerry has the advantage over Bush on the economy.

Views of Candidate Better Able to Handle the Economy

 

Likely Voters

Registered Voters

 

FL
Sep 24-27

OH
Sep 25-28

PA
Sep 25-28

FL
Sep 24-27

OH
Sep 25-28

PA
Sep 25-28

 

%

%

%

%

%

%

John Kerry

43

49

48

45

52

51

George W. Bush

53

47

47

48

43

42

SAME (vol.)

*

1

1

*

1

2

No opinion

4

3

4

7

4

5

* Less than 0.5%


In Pennsylvania, Kerry's standing on terrorism in relation to Bush has improved (from a 60% to 35% Bush edge in a Sept. 4-7 poll to a 55% to 39% Bush edge now), while Bush's standing on the economy has improved (from a 50% to 45% Kerry advantage Sept. 4-7 to a 48% to 47% Kerry edge now). There has been little change in the candidates positioning on those two issues in Ohio.



Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 879 registered voters in Florida, aged 18 and older, conducted Sept. 24-27, 2004. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Results for likely voters in Florida are based on the subsample of 704 survey respondents deemed most likely to vote in the November 2004 Presidential Election, according to a series of questions measuring current voting intentions and past voting behavior. For results based on the total sample of likely voters, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points. Based on past voting history in Florida, turnout is assumed to be 50% of the voting age population.

Approximately 5% of all interviews in Florida were conducted in Spanish.


Results are based on telephone interviews with 802 registered voters in Ohio, aged 18 and older, conducted Sept. 25-28, 2004. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Results for likely voters in Ohio are based on the subsample of 664 survey respondents deemed most likely to vote in the November 2004 Presidential Election, according to a series of questions measuring current voting intentions and past voting behavior. For results based on the total sample of likely voters, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points. Based on past voting history in Ohio, turnout is assumed to be 60% of the voting age population.


Results are based on telephone interviews with 799 registered voters in Pennsylvania, aged 18 and older, conducted Sept. 25-28, 2004. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Results for likely voters in Pennsylvania are based on the subsample of 654 survey respondents deemed most likely to vote in the November 2004 Presidential Election, according to a series of questions measuring current voting intentions and past voting behavior. For results based on the total sample of likely voters, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points. Based on past voting history in Pennsylvania, turnout is assumed to be 55% of the voting age population.

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.

 

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/13225/Bush-Leads-Florida-Ohio-Pennsylvania-Close.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030