Politics

Kerry Pulls Even With Bush at 49%-49%

Bush retains strength on several key dimensions, while Kerry leads on economy

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The presidential election is roughly back where it was in August, with John Kerry and George W. Bush tied among likely voters, and with President Bush's job approval squarely at the midpoint of 50%. This marks a significant change from September, when three separate CNN/USA Today/Gallup polls showed Bush ahead of Kerry.

Impact of First Debate

There is little question that Thursday night's presidential debate has made a significant difference in the presidential race.

Gallup's poll of debate watchers on Thursday night showed that Kerry was perceived as doing a better job than Bush by a 53% to 37% margin. In the latest poll, conducted Oct. 1-3, this perception of Kerry's stronger debate performance has expanded, no doubt fueled by post-debate media discussion and spin. Fifty-seven percent of the broad sample of all Americans now say Kerry did the better job in the debate, compared to only 25% who say Bush did the better job.

Additionally, 71% of Americans say they watched or listened to the debate, while another 13% say they saw news coverage of the confrontation at the University of Miami.

The Horse Race

Prior to the debate, Bush was ahead of Kerry among likely voters by an eight-point margin of 52% to 44%. Bush also had job approval ratings in the three September polls in the 52%-54% range.

Now, in the new poll, Bush's post-Republican convention bounce has dissipated. The race is literally tied among likely voters, at 49% to 49%, and statistically tied among registered voters, with a slight 49%- 47% margin in Bush's favor. (Ralph Nader receives only 1% of the vote among both groups.)

Now, suppose that the presidential election were being held today, and it included John Kerry and John Edwards as the Democratic candidates, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as the Republican candidates, and Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo as independent candidates. Would you vote for -- [ROTATED: Kerry and Edwards, the Democrats, Bush and Cheney, the Republicans, (or) Nader and Camejo, the independent candidates]?

As of today, do you lean more toward -- [ROTATED: Kerry and Edwards, the Democrats, Bush and Cheney, the Republicans (or) Nader and Camejo, the independents]?

 

 

Kerry/
Edwards

Bush/
Cheney

Nader/
Camejo

OTHER
(vol.)

NONE (vol.)

No
opinion

Likely voters

%

%

%

%

%

%

2004 Oct 1-3 ^

49

49

1

1

*

*

2004 Sep 24-26

44

52

3

--

*

1

Registered voters

           

2004 Oct 1-3 ^

47

49

1

1

1

1

2004 Sep 24-26

42

53

3

--

1

1

* Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response

^

Beginning with Oct. 1-3, 2004 poll, Nader/Camejo support is based only on residents from states where Nader was on the presidential ballot at the time the poll was released. In states where Nader was not on the ballot at the time of release, Nader voters' choice for president if Nader is not on the ballot (Q.3/3A) was substituted for their Nader vote.

Job Approval Rating

For an incumbent, job approval rating is almost as important an indicator of probable election success as the trial heat ballot. Bush is now back squarely at a 50% job approval rating, directly on the line that symbolically divides a successful from an unsuccessful bid for the presidency.

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

 

 


Approve

Disapprove

No
opinion

 

%

%

%

2004 Oct 1-3

50

48

2

       

2004 Sep 24-26

54

44

2

2004 Sep 13-15

52

45

3

2004 Sep 3-5

52

46

2

Bush Retains Strengths

Despite these significant changes in the basic structure of the presidential race, the poll suggests that President Bush continues to have significant advantages over Kerry on several key dimensions that have been central to Bush's campaign strategy in the last several months:

  • Americans still see Bush as better able to handle Iraq than is Kerry, although Bush's margin over Kerry has narrowed on this dimension since the debate.

    At this point, 51% of Americans say Bush can handle the Iraq situation better than Kerry, while 44% select Kerry. That's down from a 55%-41% Bush margin in the pre-debate Sept. 24-26 poll.

    Next, regardless of which presidential candidate you support, please tell me if you think John Kerry or George W. Bush would better handle each of the following issues. How about --

    The situation in Iraq

 

 

Kerry

Bush

SAME (vol.)

No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

2004 Oct 1-3

44

51

1

4

2004 Sep 24-26

41

55

1

3

2004 Sep 3-5

41

54

1

4

2004 Aug 23-25 ^

43

49

1

7

2004 Jul 30-Aug 1

48

47

2

3

2004 Jul 19-21

44

49

1

6

2004 Jun 21-23 ^

46

47

1

6

2004 May 7-9 ^

45

48

1

6

2004 Mar 5-7

39

54

2

5

(vol.) Volunteered response
^ Asked of half sample

 

  • Bush continues to have a double-digit lead over Kerry as the candidate better able to handle terrorism, 56% to 39%, although this is again a slightly smaller gap than was found in the pre-debate poll.

    Next, regardless of which presidential candidate you support, please tell me if you think John Kerry or George W. Bush would better handle each of the following issues. How about --

          Terrorism

 

 

Kerry

Bush

SAME (vol.)

No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

2004 Oct 1-3

39

56

2

3

2004 Sep 24-26

34

61

1

4

2004 Sep 3-5

34

61

1

4

2004 Aug 23-25 ^

37

54

2

7

2004 Jul 30-Aug 1

41

54

2

3

2004 Jul 19-21

38

56

1

5

2004 Jun 21-23 ^

40

54

1

5

2004 May 7-9 ^

38

55

1

6

2004 Mar 5-7

33

60

2

5

(vol.) Volunteered response

^ Asked of half sample

Kerry has made slight inroads on Bush in terms of which candidate best fits the description "is a strong and decisive leader." Before the debate, Bush led by 60% to 32%. Now, Bush leads by 56% to 37%.

The focus of the remaining two debates between Bush and Kerry will shift much more to the economy than was the case in last Thursday's debate. Significantly, Kerry has regained the lead on the economic dimension. Americans by a 51% to 44% margin now say that Kerry is better able to handle the economy than is Bush. Kerry has held a lead over Bush on this economic dimension in seven of the eight surveys prior to this one in which this question has been asked.

Next, regardless of which presidential candidate you support, please tell me if you think John Kerry or George W. Bush would better handle each of the following issues. How about --

The economy

 

 

Kerry

Bush

SAME (vol.)

No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

2004 Oct 1-3

51

44

1

4

2004 Sep 24-26

45

51

1

3

2004 Sep 3-5

49

46

2

3

2004 Aug 23-25 ^

49

43

1

7

2004 Jul 30-Aug 1

53

43

1

3

2004 Jul 19-21

51

43

1

5

2004 Jun 21-23 ^

53

40

1

6

2004 May 7-9 ^

54

40

1

5

2004 Mar 5-7

50

42

2

6

(vol.) Volunteered response
^ Asked of half sample

These results come at a time when the Kerry campaign appears to be shifting its focus from foreign to domestic issues. Indeed, as noted, the remaining two presidential debates will focus much more on the economy than did the first debate.

The Next Debate

The new poll shows that Kerry is now expected, by a 48% to 41% margin, to do better than Bush in the forthcoming "town hall" debate to be held Oct. 8 at Washington University at St. Louis. This is a significant change from the poll conducted just before the first debate, which showed that Americans expected Bush to do better than Kerry in that debate.

As you may know, next Friday, October 8th, George W. Bush and John Kerry will debate in a "town hall" format in which average citizens from the audience will ask the candidates questions. Who do you think is likely to do a better job in this presidential debate -- [ROTATED: John Kerry (or) George W. Bush]?

 

 


Kerry


Bush

NO DIFFERENCE (vol.)

No
opinion

         

2004 Oct 1-3

48%

41

4

7

(vol.) Volunteered response

Kerry Does Better Among Likely Voters for Second Poll in a Row

For the second CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll in a row, Kerry does better among likely voters than he does among registered voters. In the Oct. 1-3 survey, Bush leads among all registered voters by a 2-point, 49%-47% margin. Among likely voters, the race is dead even at 49%-49%. In the Sept 24-26 poll, Bush led among registered voters by an 11-point margin, 53%-42%, and among likely voters by 8 points, 52%-44%.

While the Republican candidate typically does better among likely voters, Kerry's edge among this group is not unprecedented this year. Kerry also did better among likely voters than among registered voters at one point this summer, as well as last winter at the time of the Democratic primaries.

Gallup's likely voter model represents an estimate of what would happen "if the election were held today," and the data from the last two polls suggest that Democrats have become, at least temporarily, more activated than they have been in previous months.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,016 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 1-3, 2004. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Results based on likely voters are based on the subsample of 722 survey respondents deemed most likely to vote in the November 2004 general 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. The "likely voter" model assumes a turnout of 55% of national adults. The likely voter sample is weighted down to match this assumption.

For results based on the sample of 934 registered voters, the maximum 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.

2. Now, suppose that the presidential election were being held today, and it included John Kerry and John Edwards as the Democratic candidates, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as the Republican candidates, and Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo as independent candidates. Would you vote for -- [ROTATED: Kerry and Edwards, the Democrats, Bush and Cheney, the Republicans, (or) Nader and Camejo, the independent candidates]?

2A. As of today, do you lean more toward -- [ROTATED: Kerry and Edwards, the Democrats, Bush and Cheney, the Republicans (or) Nader and Camejo, the independents]?

 

Kerry/
Edwards

Bush/
Cheney

Nader/
Camejo

OTHER
(vol.)

NONE (vol.)

No
opinion

Likely voters

%

%

%

%

%

%

2004 Oct 1-3 ^

49

49

1

1

*

*

2004 Sep 24-26

44

52

3

--

*

1

2004 Sep 13-15 †

40

54

3

2

*

1

2004 Sep 3-5

45

52

1

--

*

2

2004 Aug 23-25

46

48

4

*

*

2

2004 Aug 9-11

46

48

3

*

1

2

2004 Jul 30-Aug 1

45

51

2

*

1

1

2004 Jul 19-21

47

46

4

*

1

2

2004 Jul 8-11 ‡

50

45

2

*

1

2

2004 Jun 21-23

47

48

3

*

*

2

2004 Jun 3-6

49

43

5

1

*

2

2004 May 21-23

47

46

4

*

1

2

2004 May 7-9

45

47

5

--

2

1

2004 May 2-4

47

47

3

*

1

2

2004 Apr 16-18

44

50

4

*

*

2

2004 Apr 5-8

43

47

4

1

2

3

2004 Mar 26-28

45

49

4

--

1

1

2004 Mar 5-7

50

44

2

1

1

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Registered voters

 

 

 

 

 

 

2004 Oct 1-3 ^

47

49

1

1

1

1

2004 Sep 24-26

42

53

3

--

1

1

2004 Sep 13-15 †

42

50

4

2

1

1

2004 Sep 3-5

46

48

4

--

1

1

2004 Aug 23-25

46

46

4

*

1

3

2004 Aug 9-11

45

46

5

*

1

3

2004 Jul 30-Aug 1

47

48

2

*

1

2

2004 Jul 19-21

47

43

5

*

2

3

2004 Jul 8-11 ‡

50

42

4

*

1

3

2004 Jun 21-23

46

45

6

1

*

2

2004 Jun 3-6

45

42

7

1

1

4

2004 May 21-23

46

44

6

*

1

3

2004 May 7-9

46

41

7

*

3

3

2004 May 2-4

44

45

6

1

1

3

2004 Apr 16-18

44

47

5

*

1

3

2004 Apr 5-8

46

45

5

*

2

2

2004 Mar 26-28

43

48

5

--

1

3

2004 Mar 5-7

47

45

5

*

1

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

^  Beginning with Oct. 1-3, 2004, poll, Nader/Camejo support is based only on residents from states where Nader was on the presidential ballot at the time the poll was released. In states where Nader was not on the ballot at the time of release (see list below), Nader voters' choice for president if Nader is not on the ballot (Q.3/3A) was substituted for their Nader vote.

†  Minor party candidates Michael Badnarik (Libertarian), David Cobb (Green), and Michael Peroutka (Constitution) also included, put into "Other" category for trend purposes.

‡  Vice presidential candidates Edwards, Cheney, and Camejo added beginning with the July 8-11, 2004, survey.

*  Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response

Q.2/2A CONTINUED

 

Kerry/
Edwards

Bush/
Cheney

Nader/
Camejo

OTHER
(vol.)

NONE (vol.)

No
opinion

National adults

%

%

%

%

%

%

2004 Oct 1-3 ^

46

49

1

1

2

1

2004 Sep 24-26

42

52

3

--

1

2

2004 Sep 13-15 †

41

49

4

2

2

2

2004 Sep 3-5

45

49

4

--

1

1

2004 Aug 23-25

46

45

5

*

2

2

2004 Aug 9-11

45

45

5

*

2

3

2004 Jul 30-Aug 1

48

45

3

*

2

2

2004 Jul 19-21

47

43

5

*

2

3

2004 Jul 8-11 ‡

49

41

5

*

2

3

2004 Jun 21-23

45

45

6

1

1

2

2004 Jun 3-6

44

42

8

1

2

3

2004 May 21-23

46

42

6

1

2

3

2004 May 7-9

46

41

8

*

3

2

2004 May 2-4

44

44

7

1

1

3

2004 Apr 16-18

43

46

7

*

1

3

2004 Apr 5-8

45

45

5

1

2

2

2004 Mar 26-28

44

46

7

--

1

2

2004 Mar 5-7

47

44

5

1

1

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

^  Beginning with Oct. 1-3, 2004, poll, Nader/Camejo support is based only on residents from states where Nader was on the presidential ballot at the time the poll was released. In states where Nader was not on the ballot at the time of release, Nader voters' choice for president if Nader is not on the ballot (Q.3/3A) was substituted for their Nader vote.

†  Minor party candidates Michael Badnarik (Libertarian), David Cobb (Green), and Michael Peroutka (Constitution) also included, put into "Other" category for trend purposes.

‡  Vice presidential candidates Edwards, Cheney, and Camejo added beginning with the July 8-11, 2004, survey.

* Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response

Oct. 1-3 poll:
Nader voters in AZ, CA, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, MA, MO, NC, OH, OK, OR, TX, VA had their Nader votes substituted for choice if Nader not on ballot from Q3/3a.

 

12. Next, thinking about the following characteristics and qualities, please say whether you think each one applies more to John Kerry or more to George W. Bush. How about --[RANDOM ORDER]?

A. Cares about the needs of people like you

 


Kerry


Bush

BOTH
(vol.)

NEITHER (vol.)

No
opinion

 

%

%

%

%

%

2004 Oct 1-3

49

44

2

4

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

2004 Sep 3-5

48

41

5

5

1

2004 Aug 23-25 ^

45

42

3

7

3

2004 Jul 30-Aug 1

52

40

2

4

2

2004 Jul 19-21

48

40

2

7

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

^ Asked of half sample

(vol.) Volunteered response

B. Is a strong and decisive leader

 


Kerry


Bush

BOTH
(vol.)

NEITHER (vol.)

No
opinion

 

%

%

%

%

%

2004 Oct 1-3

37

56

2

2

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

2004 Sep 3-5

32

60

4

3

1

2004 Aug 23-25 ^

34

54

2

5

5

2004 Jul 30-Aug 1

42

52

2

2

2

2004 Jul 19-21

37

54

3

3

3

2004 Jan 29-Feb 1

39

53

3

1

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

^ Asked of half sample

(vol.) Volunteered response

C. Is honest and trustworthy

 


Kerry


Bush

BOTH
(vol.)

NEITHER (vol.)

No
opinion

 

%

%

%

%

%

2004 Oct 1-3

41

46

5

6

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

2004 Sep 3-5

38

47

5

8

2

2004 Aug 23-25 ^

39

44

3

10

4

2004 Jul 30-Aug 1

46

44

3

5

2

2004 Jul 19-21

42

42

3

10

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

^ Asked of half sample

(vol.) Volunteered response

D. Shares your values

 


Kerry


Bush

BOTH
(vol.)

NEITHER (vol.)

No
opinion

 

%

%

%

%

%

2004 Oct 1-3

45

49

2

2

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

2004 Sep 3-5

45

48

2

3

2

2004 Aug 23-25 ^

45

45

2

5

3

2004 Jul 30-Aug 1

48

46

1

3

2

2004 Jul 19-21

47

44

2

4

3

2004 Jan 29-Feb 1

50

41

3

3

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

^ Asked of half sample

(vol.) Volunteered response

E. Expresses himself more clearly

 


Kerry


Bush

BOTH
(vol.)

NEITHER (vol.)

No
opinion

 

 

 

 

 

 

2004 Oct 1-3

54%

41

2

1

2

(vol.) Volunteered response

F. Is intelligent

 


Kerry


Bush

BOTH
(vol.)

NEITHER (vol.)

No
opinion

 

 

 

 

 

 

2004 Oct 1-3

48%

38

11

1

2

(vol.) Volunteered response

SUMMARY TABLE: ADVANTAGE ON PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS AND TRAITS

2004 Oct 1-3
(sorted by advantage for Kerry)


Kerry


Bush

Kerry
Advantage

 

%

%

 

Expresses himself more clearly

54

41

+13

Is intelligent

48

38

+10

Cares about the needs of people like you

49

44

+5

Shares your values

45

49

-4

Is honest and trustworthy

41

46

-5

Is a strong and decisive leader

37

56

-19

 

 

 +

Advantage indicates Kerry lead

-

Advantage indicates Bush lead

Q.13-14 SPLIT SAMPLED

13. Do you think -- [ROTATED: John Kerry/George W. Bush]--has -- or has not -- changed his positions on issues for political reasons?

BASED ON 491 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A

A. John Kerry

 

Yes, has

No, has not

No opinion

 

 

 

 

2004 Oct 1-3 ^

65%

29

6

 

 

 

 

2004 Mar 26-28 †

57%

31

12

 

 

 

 

^

Asked of half sample

Asked as a stand-alone question

B. George W. Bush

 

Yes, has

No, has not

No opinion

 

 

 

 

2004 Oct 1-3 ^

36%

60

4

 

 

 

 

^

Asked of half sample

11. Next, regardless of which presidential candidate you support, please tell me if you think John Kerry or George W. Bush would better handle each of the following issues. How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

A. The economy

 

Kerry

Bush

SAME (vol.)

No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

2004 Oct 1-3

51

44

1

4

2004 Sep 24-26

45

51

1

3

2004 Sep 3-5

49

46

2

3

2004 Aug 23-25 ^

49

43

1

7

2004 Jul 30-Aug 1

53

43

1

3

2004 Jul 19-21

51

43

1

5

2004 Jun 21-23 ^

53

40

1

6

2004 May 7-9 ^

54

40

1

5

2004 Mar 5-7

50

42

2

6


^ Asked of half sample

(vol.) Volunteered response

B. The situation in Iraq

 

Kerry

Bush

SAME (vol.)

No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

2004 Oct 1-3

44

51

1

4

2004 Sep 24-26

41

55

1

3

2004 Sep 3-5

41

54

1

4

2004 Aug 23-25 ^

43

49

1

7

2004 Jul 30-Aug 1

48

47

2

3

2004 Jul 19-21

44

49

1

6

2004 Jun 21-23 ^

46

47

1

6

2004 May 7-9 ^

45

48

1

6

2004 Mar 5-7

39

54

2

5


^ Asked of half sample

(vol.) Volunteered response

C. Terrorism

 

Kerry

Bush

SAME (vol.)

No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

2004 Oct 1-3

39

56

2

3

2004 Sep 24-26

34

61

1

4

2004 Sep 3-5

34

61

1

4

2004 Aug 23-25 ^

37

54

2

7

2004 Jul 30-Aug 1

41

54

2

3

2004 Jul 19-21

38

56

1

5

2004 Jun 21-23 ^

40

54

1

5

2004 May 7-9 ^

38

55

1

6

2004 Mar 5-7

33

60

2

5


^ Asked of half sample
(vol.) Volunteered response

 

 

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/13240/Kerry-Pulls-Even-Bush-4949.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030