Politics

Standoff in Second Debate

Debate viewers: 47% say Kerry did better, 45% say Bush

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Sen. John Kerry and President George W. Bush battled each other to a virtual tie in Friday night's presidential debate, according to a random sample of 515 registered voters who watched the event. Forty-seven percent of viewers said Kerry did the better job; 45% picked Bush. This is a much more positive rating than what Bush received after the first debate, which viewers said Kerry won by 53% to 37%.

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.)

 

%

%

%

%

Overall

47

45

1

7

         

Republicans

10

83

0

7

Independents

53

37

1

9

Democrats

87

8

0

5

         

Male

45

48

1

6

Female

50

41

0

9

         

(vol.) Volunteered response

Democrats rallied behind Kerry's performance by 87% to 8%, while Republicans rallied behind Bush's performance by a slightly smaller margin, 83% to 10%. But independents chose Kerry by a 16-point margin, 53% to 37%.

The reason the overall figures show only a slight advantage for Kerry, despite his greater margin among his own party and winning the independent vote, is that the sample of viewers had more Republicans (38%) than Democrats (32%) or independents (30%). Also, the sample of viewers support Bush over Kerry in the presidential race by 50% to 46%.

The poll shows a modest gender gap in the rating of the two candidates, with women choosing Kerry as the winner by a nine-point margin (50% to 41%), and men leaning toward Bush by a three-point margin (48% to 45%). In the first debate, male and female viewers gave virtually identical responses.

Other Poll Findings

Overall, 38% of viewers said they felt more favorably toward Kerry as a result of the debate, while 20% felt less favorably -- a net positive of 18 points. By comparison, Bush received a net positive of 11 points -- 31% of viewers said they felt more favorably and 20% less favorably toward Bush because of the debate.

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

 

 

More favorable

Less
favorable

Not changed much

       

Kerry

38%

20

42

Bush

31%

20

49

In the first debate, Kerry received a net positive score of 33 points on the more favorable vs. less favorable ratings, compared with just 4 points for Bush, a further indication of how much better Bush did in this debate than the first one.

On who can better handle the issues of terrorism and Iraq, viewers moved more toward Bush than Kerry after the debate. On the economy, viewers edged toward Kerry.

  • Viewers said they thought Bush would handle the economy better than Kerry, by 50% to 44% before the debate. Afterward, viewers split evenly, with 49% each choosing Kerry and Bush.
  • Kerry was favored on Iraq before the debate, by 50% to 46%. After the debate, viewers switched to Bush by 53% to 46%.
  • Viewers also gave increased support to Bush on terrorism, initially favoring the president by 52% to 45%, but favoring him by an even larger margin after the debate, 56% to 39%.

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]?

 

 

Kerry

Bush

Economy

%

%

2004 Oct 8 (post-debate)

49

49

2004 Oct 6-7 (pre-debate)

44

50

     

Situation in Iraq

   

2004 Oct 8 (post-debate)

46

53

2004 Oct 6-7 (pre-debate)

50

46

     

Terrorism

   

2004 Oct 8 (post-debate)

39

56

2004 Oct 6-7 (pre-debate)

45

52

As in the first debate, viewers were much more likely to say that Kerry expressed himself more clearly than Bush (54% to 37%), and -- on the other side -- that Bush rather than Kerry demonstrated he is tough enough for the job (53% to 40%). But Kerry's margin this time (17 points) was smaller than his margin in the first debate (28 points), additional evidence that Bush's performance was better in the second debate. On the other hand, Bush's margin on being tough enough for the job was slightly lower this time (13 points) than it was in the first debate (17 points).

The poll also shows a slight edge for Kerry on having a good understanding of the issues (five-point advantage), while Bush had a slight edge on being more believable (four-point advantage). Viewers split almost evenly on which candidate agreed with them more on the issues they care about (Bush by one point) and who was more likable (Bush by two points).

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]?

SUMMARY TABLE: KERRY VS. BUSH ON QUALITIES AND CHARACTERISTICS

 

2004 Oct 8


Kerry


Bush


Advantage

 

%

%

 pct. pts.

Expressed himself more clearly

54

37

+17

Had a good understanding of the issues

47

42

+5

Agreed with you more on the issues you care about

49

50

-1

Was more likable

45

47

-2

Was more believable

45

49

-4

Demonstrated he is tough enough for the job

40

53

-13

   

+

Advantage indicates Kerry lead

Advantage indicates Bush lead

The spirited debate was marked by the candidates' frequent criticisms of each others' records and public statements. But about 6 of 10 viewers found each candidate's criticisms to be fair, while about 4 of 10 thought they were unfair.

Survey Methods

All results are based on telephone interviews with 515 registered voters, aged 18 and older, who watched the presidential debate Oct. 8, 2004. Respondents were first interviewed Oct. 6-7, 2004, when they indicated there was some chance they would watch Friday'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 maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 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 Oct 8

47

45

1

7

*

           

2004 Sep 30

53

37

1

8

1

           

* Less than 0.5%

(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%

(vol.) Volunteered response

 

 


Dukakis


Bush

NEITHER (vol.)

No
opinion

 

Dukakis/Bush 1988

         

1988 Sep 27-28

38%

29

31

2

 
 

(vol.) Volunteered response

 

 


Mondale


Reagan

NEITHER (vol.)

No
opinion

 

Mondale/Reagan 1984

         

1984 Oct 21

40%

43

--

17

 

1984 Oct 7

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 Oct 8

38%

20

42

*

         

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 Oct 8

31%

20

49

*

         

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%

5. 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

Kerry/Bush 2004

       

2004 Oct 8 (Post-debate)

49%

49

1

1

2004 Oct 6-7 (Pre-debate)

44%

50

3

3

 

(vol.) Volunteered response

B. The situation in Iraq

 

 

Kerry

Bush

SAME (vol.)

No opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

%

%

%

%

2004 Oct 8 (Post-debate)

46

53

1

*

2004 Oct 6-7 (Pre-debate)

50

46

1

3

         

2004 Sep 30 (Post-debate)

43

54

1

2

2004 Sep 28-29 (Pre-debate)

40

54

2

4

         

* Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response

C. Terrorism

 

 

Kerry

Bush

SAME (vol.)

No opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

       

2004 Oct 8 (Post-debate)

39%

56

3

2

2004 Oct 6-7 (Pre-debate)

45%

52

1

2

 

(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 Oct 8

49%

50

1

--

--

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

*

 

* Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response

B. Expressed himself more clearly

 

 



Kerry



Bush

BOTH
EQUALLY
(vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

         

2004 Oct 8

54%

37

9

*

*

           

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

 

* Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response

C. Had a good understanding of the issues

 

 



Kerry



Bush

BOTH
EQUALLY
(vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

         

2004 Oct 8

47%

42

11

*

*

           

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

 

* Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response

D. Was more believable

 

 



Kerry



Bush

BOTH
EQUALLY
(vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

         

2004 Oct 8

45%

49

4

1

1

           

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

*

 

* Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response

E. Was more likable

 

 



Kerry



Bush

BOTH
EQUALLY
(vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

         

2004 Oct 8

45%

47

7

*

1

           

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

 

* Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response

F. Demonstrated he is tough enough for the job

 

 



Kerry



Bush

BOTH
EQUALLY
(vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

Kerry/Bush 2004

         

2004 Oct 8

40%

53

6

--

1

           

2004 Sep 30

37%

54

8

1

*

 

* Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response

SUMMARY TABLE: KERRY VS. BUSH ON QUALITIES AND CHARACTERISTICS

 

2004 Oct 8
(sorted by advantage)


Kerry


Bush


Advantage

 

%

%

pct. pts.

Expressed himself more clearly

54

37

+17

Had a good understanding of the issues

47

42

+5

Agreed with you more on the issues you care about

49

50

-1

Was more likable

45

47

-2

Was more believable

45

49

-4

Demonstrated he is tough enough for the job

40

53

-13

   

+

Advantage indicates Kerry lead

Advantage indicates Bush lead

Q.8-9 ROTATED

8. 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 Oct 8

60%

39

1

       

2004 Sep 30

63%

34

3


9. 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 Oct 8

59%

38

3

       

2004 Sep 30

68%

28

4

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/13549/Standoff-Second-Debate.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030