Kerry Wins Debate

by David W. Moore

Viewers also more favorable to Kerry, but opinions about Iraq and military leadership still favor Bush

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- John Kerry won the debate Thursday night, 53% to 37%, according to a random sample of 615 registered voters who watched the event. Almost half of the viewers said they felt more favorable about the senator because of the debate, and 60% said Kerry expressed himself more clearly than did President Bush.

Regardless of which candidate you happen to support, who do you think did the better job in the debate -- [ROTATED: John Kerry (or) George W. Bush]?

 

 



Kerry



Bush


NEITHER (vol.)

BOTH/ EQUALLY (vol.)


No
opinion

 

%

%

%

%

%

Overall

53

37

1

8

1

           

Republicans

17

71

1

10

1

Independents

60

29

*

10

1

Democrats

87

8

0

5

0

           

Male

53

37

1

9

*

Female

53

38

*

8

1

           

Voting for Kerry (pre-debate)

93

3

0

4

0

Voting for Bush (pre-debate)

19

68

1

11

1

* Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response

Democrats rallied behind Kerry's performance by 87% to 8%, while Republicans rallied behind Bush's performance by a somewhat smaller margin, 71% to 17%. But independents chose Kerry by a two-to-one margin, 60% to 29%.

Among viewers who indicated in the pre-debate survey that they intended to vote for Kerry, 93% thought Kerry won the debate and only 3% said Bush did.

Bush's supporters were not as convinced their candidate won -- choosing Bush by 68% to 19%, with 11% saying it was a tie.

Men and women expressed virtually identical views in favor of Kerry.

Despite the positive assessment, viewers said they favored Bush in handling the war in Iraq and serving as commander in chief, little changed from opinions expressed before the debate. And a majority of viewers said it was Bush who better demonstrated he is tough enough for the job.

The poll shows that 46% of viewers said they felt more favorable toward Kerry as a result of the debate, while just 13% felt less favorable. By comparison, just 21% of viewers felt more favorable toward Bush, and 17% felt less favorable.

How has your opinion of John Kerry/George W. Bush been affected by the debate? Is your opinion of Kerry -- more favorable, less favorable, or has it not changed much? [Names rotated.]

 

 

More favorable

Less
favorable

Not changed much

No
opinion

         

Kerry

46%

13

41

*

Bush

21%

17

62

*

* Less than 0.5%

However, viewers did not change their minds about who would do a better job in Iraq or better serve as the country's military leader.

Prior to the debate, viewers chose Bush over Kerry in handling the Iraq war by 54% to 40%. After the debate, the comparable figures were essentially unchanged, 54% to 43%.

Next, regardless of which presidential candidate you support, please tell me if you think John Kerry or George W. Bush would better handle the situation in Iraq.

 

 

 

Kerry

Bush

SAME (vol.)

No opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

       

2004 Sep 30 (Post-debate)

43%

54

1

2

2004 Sep 28-29 (Pre-debate)

40%

54

2

4

(vol.) Volunteered response

Similarly, viewers pointed to Bush as the candidate they would trust more to handle the responsibilities of commander in chief -- before the debate by 55% to 42%, and after the debate by 54% to 44%.

Who do you trust more to handle the responsibilities of commander in chief of the military -- [ROTATED: John Kerry, (or) George W. Bush]?

 

 



Kerry



Bush

BOTH/ EQUALLY (vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

         

2004 Sep 30 (Post-debate)

44%

54

1

*

1

2004 Sep 28-29 (Pre-debate)

42%

55

*

1

2

* Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response

Viewers saw Kerry as more articulate in the debate than Bush (60% to 32%), though they divided equally as to which candidate had a better understanding of the issues (41% each).

Thinking about the following characteristics and qualities, please say whether you think each one better described John Kerry or George W. Bush during tonight's debate. How about -- [Random Order]?

 

2004 Sep 30
(sorted by advantage for Kerry)


Kerry


Bush


Advantage

 

%

%

pct. pts.

Expressed himself more clearly

60

32

+28

Had a good understanding of the issues

41

41

0

Agreed with you more on the issues you care about

46

49

-3

Was more believable

45

50

-5

Was more likable

41

48

-7

Demonstrated he is tough enough for the job

37

54

-17

   

+

Advantage indicates Kerry lead

-

Advantage indicates Bush lead

Viewers leaned toward Bush on which candidate agreed with them on issues, who was more believable, and who was more likable. And by 54% to 37%, viewers said Bush better demonstrated he is tough enough for the job.

These results are based on a CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey, conducted Thursday night immediately after the end of the presidential debate, which ended at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time. Respondents in the sample were first interviewed Sept. 28-29, when they indicated they expected to watch the debate and that they were willing to be called when the debate finished.

In that pre-debate survey, 52% of the viewers who were included in Thursday night's sample said they supported Bush and 44% supported Kerry, similar to the vote preference measured among likely voters in the Sept. 24-26 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. Thirty-six percent of Thursday night's viewers identified themselves as Republicans, 32% as independents, and 32% as Democrats.

Survey Methods

All results are based on telephone interviews with 615 registered voters, aged 18 and older, who watched the presidential debate Sept. 30, 2004. Respondents were first interviewed Sept. 28-29, 2004, when they indicated there was some chance they would watch Thursday's debate and were willing to be called back. For results based on the total sample of debate watchers, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 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.

Polls conducted entirely in one day, such as this one, are subject to additional error or bias not found in polls conducted over several days.

1. Regardless of which candidate you happen to support, who do you think did the better job in the debate -- [ROTATED: John Kerry (or) George W. Bush]?

 

 



Kerry



Bush


NEITHER (vol.)

BOTH/ EQUALLY (vol.)


No
opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

         

2004 Sep 30

53%

37

1

8

1

(vol.) Volunteered response

Trends for Comparison:

 

 



Gore



Bush


NEITHER (vol.)

BOTH/ EQUALLY (vol.)


No
opinion

Gore/Bush 2000

         

2000 Oct 17

46%

44

*

10

*

2000 Oct 11

36%

49

1

13

1

2000 Oct 3

48%

41

2

8

1

* Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response

 

 



Clinton



Dole


No
opinion

   

Clinton/Dole 1996

%

%

%

   

1996 Oct 16

59

29

12

   

1996 Oct 6

51

32

17

   

 

 



Clinton



Bush



Perot

NONE IN PARTICULAR (vol.)


No
opinion

Clinton/Bush/Perot 1992

%

%

%

%

%

1992 Oct 19

28

28

37

7

*

1992 Oct 16-18

58

16

15

7

4

1992 Oct 11

30

16

47

5

2

* Less than 0.5%

 

 


Dukakis


Bush

NEITHER (vol.)

No
opinion

 

Dukakis/Bush 1988

         

1988 Sep 27-28

38%

29

31

2

 

 

 


Mondale


Reagan

NEITHER (vol.)

No
opinion

 

Mondale/Reagan 1984

         

1984 Oct 21

40%

43

--

17

 

1984 Sep 28-30

54%

35

8

3

 

(vol.) Volunteered response

Q.2-3 ROTATED

2. How has your opinion of John Kerry been affected by the debate? Is your opinion of Kerry -- more favorable, less favorable, or has it not changed much?

 

 

More favorable

Less
favorable

Not changed much

No
opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

       

2004 Sep 30

46%

13

41

*

* Less than 0.5%

3. How has your opinion of George W. Bush been affected by the debate? Is your opinion of Bush -- more favorable, less favorable, or has it not changed much?

 

 

More favorable

Less
favorable

Not changed much

No
opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

       

2004 Sep 30

21%

17

62

*

* Less than 0.5%

Trends for Comparison:

 

 

More favorable

Less
favorable

Not changed much

No
opinion

Al Gore

%

%

%

%

2000 Oct 17

29

22

49

--

2000 Oct 11

24

16

60

--

2000 Oct 3

27

18

55

*

         

George W. Bush

       

2000 Oct 17

31

17

51

1

2000 Oct 11

40

12

47

1

2000 Oct 3

34

14

52

*

         

Bill Clinton

       

1992 Oct 19

27

22

50

1

1992 Oct 11

29

14

57

*

         

George H. W. Bush

       

1992 Oct 19

29

25

46

--

1992 Oct 11

13

24

62

1

         

Ross Perot

       

1992 Oct 19

63

5

32

--

1992 Oct 11

62

5

32

--

* Less than 0.5%

4. Next, regardless of which presidential candidate you support, please tell me if you think John Kerry or George W. Bush would better handle the situation in Iraq.

 

 

Kerry

Bush

SAME (vol.)

No opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

       

2004 Sep 30 (Post-debate)

43%

54

1

2

2004 Sep 28-29 (Pre-debate)

40%

54

2

4

(vol.) Volunteered response

5. Who do you trust more to handle the responsibilities of commander-in-chief of the military -- [ROTATED: John Kerry, (or) George W. Bush]?

 

 



Kerry



Bush

BOTH/ EQUALLY (vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

         

2004 Sep 30 (Post-debate)

44%

54

1

*

1

2004 Sep 28-29 (Pre-debate)

42%

55

*

1

2

* Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response

6. Thinking about the following characteristics and qualities, please say whether you think each one better described John Kerry or George W. Bush during tonight's debate. How about -- [Random Order]?

A. Agreed with you more on the issues you care about

 

 



Kerry



Bush

BOTH/ EQUALLY (vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

         

2004 Sep 30

46%

49

2

3

*

Trends for Comparison:

 

 



Gore



Bush

BOTH/ EQUALLY (vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

Gore/Bush 2000

         

2000 Oct 17

45%

51

2

1

1

2000 Oct 11

43%

52

4

1

*

B. Expressed himself more clearly

 

 



Kerry



Bush

BOTH/ EQUALLY (vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

         

2004 Sep 30

60%

32

7

1

*

Trends for Comparison:

 

 



Gore



Bush

BOTH/ EQUALLY (vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

Gore/Bush 2000

         

2000 Oct 17

57%

33

8

1

1

2000 Oct 11

47%

39

13

*

1

C. Had a good understanding of the issues

 

 



Kerry



Bush

BOTH/ EQUALLY (vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

         

2004 Sep 30

41%

41

17

1

*

Trends for Comparison:

 

 



Clinton



Bush



Perot

BOTH/ EQUALLY (vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

Clinton/Bush/Perot 1992

           

1992 Oct 19

41%

33

18

5

2

1

1992 Oct 11

28%

39

26

5

1

1

D. Was more believable

 

 



Kerry



Bush

BOTH/ EQUALLY (vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

         

2004 Sep 30

45%

50

4

*

1

Trends for Comparison:

 

 



Gore



Bush

BOTH/ EQUALLY (vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

Gore/Bush 2000

         

2000 Oct 17

41%

52

5

1

1

2000 Oct 11

38%

51

9

2

*

E. Was more likable

 

 



Kerry



Bush

BOTH/ EQUALLY (vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

         

2004 Sep 30

41%

48

9

1

1

Trends for Comparison:

 

 



Gore



Bush

BOTH/ EQUALLY (vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

Gore/Bush 2000

         

2000 Oct 17

31%

60

6

2

1

2000 Oct 11

31%

56

10

2

1

F. Demonstrated he is tough enough for the job

 

 



Kerry



Bush

BOTH/ EQUALLY (vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

         

2004 Sep 30

37%

54

8

1

*

* Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response

SUMMARY TABLE: KERRY VS. BUSH ON QUALITIES AND CHARACTERISTICS

 

2004 Sep 30
(sorted by advantage)


Kerry


Bush


Advantage

 

%

%

pct. pts.

Expressed himself more clearly

60

32

+28

Had a good understanding of the issues

41

41

0

Agreed with you more on the issues you care about

46

49

-3

Was more believable

45

50

-5

Was more likable

41

48

-7

Demonstrated he is tough enough for the job

37

54

-17

   

+

Advantage indicates Kerry lead

-

Advantage indicates Bush lead

Q.7-8 ROTATED

7. In the debate tonight, overall, do you think John Kerry's criticism of George W. Bush was fair or unfair?

 

 

Fair

Unfair

No opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

     

2004 Sep 30

63%

34

3

8. In the debate tonight, overall, do you think George W. Bush's criticism of John Kerry was fair or unfair?

 

 

Fair

Unfair

No opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

     

2004 Sep 30

68%

28

4

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