Bush Retains Lead Among Likely Voters, Now 51% to 46%

by David W. Moore

Contest essentially tied among registered voters

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- President George W. Bush holds a slight, but statistically significant, lead over Sen. John Kerry, according to the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey. Among likely voters, Bush receives 51% support, while Kerry receives 46%. Among the larger group of registered voters, Bush's lead of two points (49% to 47%) is well within the poll's margin of error. Among both sets of voters, independent candidate Ralph Nader gets just 1% support.

Among registered voters, Gallup shows little change over the month of October. Bush's support has been either 48% or 49% in each of the four polls, while Kerry's support has ranged only from 46% to 48%. Bush's average lead for the month is so slight, just under two percentage points, that for all practical purpose, the race has been and remains essentially tied among registered voters.

The likely voter results tell a somewhat different story. In the first two polls of October, the race was virtually tied. The candidates were even at 49% in the first poll, and Kerry was up by one point, 49% to 48%, in the second poll (both were conducted during the time period of the presidential debates). But in the last two weeks of the month, Gallup has shown Bush moving into a statistically significant lead among likely voters that has averaged six percentage points over two polls, with a slight tightening of the race evident in this weekend's poll.

An analysis of the poll results by states shows that the electoral vote contest may be even closer than the popular vote contest. Despite his five-point lead among likely voters overall, Bush leads by only one percentage point in the showdown states -- those states that Bush or former Vice President Al Gore won in 2000 by less than six percentage points. Forty-nine percent of likely voters in those showdown states support Bush, while 48% support Kerry. Bush is stronger in the so-called "red" states (the ones he won by more than five percentage points in 2000) than Kerry is in the "blue" states (the ones Gore won by more than five percentage points). Thus, some of Bush's vote total may be "wasted," as he piles up strong majorities in states he is likely to win. If the election were held today, one possible scenario is that Bush could win the popular vote but lose the electoral vote to Kerry.

Presidential Approval Up Slightly in Last Two Weeks of October

Bush's job approval remains at 51%, the same reading as in the last poll, but up three to four percentage points over the early October ratings. In the first two weeks of October, 47% and 48% of Americans approved of Bush's job performance respectively, compared with 51% the past two weeks.

These slightly higher ratings in the past two polls are consistent with the results of the likely voter model, which shows a tied contest between Kerry and Bush in the first two weeks of the month and Bush moving into a slight lead the past two weeks.

Job approval is often viewed as an important measure of re-election probability for an incumbent president. At this point, however, the president's job approval rating provides little definitive evidence that suggests either a victory or a defeat for Bush.

Commitment -- Stronger Among Bush Voters, or Maybe Kerry Voters

There has been a great deal of discussion of the impact of turnout this year. In the current poll, it appears that Bush supporters may be slightly more committed in their support than is the case for Kerry voters. Eighty-one percent of Bush's voters say they support their candidate "strongly," while 19% say "moderately." By comparison, 71% of Kerry's voters feel "strongly" and 29% "moderately" about their choice.

Do you support [John Kerry/George W. Bush] STRONGLY, or only MODERATELY?

 

 

Bush

Kerry

 

Strongly

Moderately

Strongly

Moderately

Likely voters

81%

19

71

29

Registered voters

78%

21

67

33

A similar difference is found between the candidates among registered voters, with "strong" voters 11 percentage points fewer among Kerry than Bush supporters.

These results suggest that Bush's voters are more intense, and thus more likely to turn out, than are Kerry's voters.

In an Oct. 11-14 poll, however, results from a different question suggested the opposite conclusion.

Among registered voters, 57% of Kerry's supporters said they would be "very upset" if Bush won, while a smaller percentage, 50%, of Bush's supporters said they would be "very upset" if Kerry won.

(Asked of Kerry voters) If George W. Bush is re-elected in November, would you be -- very upset, somewhat upset, not too upset, or not at all upset?

(Asked of Bush voters)If John Kerry is elected president in November, would you be -- very upset, somewhat upset, not too upset, or not at all upset?

 

 

Very
upset

Somewhat upset

Not too upset

Not at all upset

Kerry voters

57%

25

8

8

Bush voters

50%

33

10

7

The total percentage of "very" and "somewhat" upset voters is about the same for each candidate -- 82% of Kerry voters would be upset if Bush is elected, and 83% of Bush voters would be upset if Kerry is elected. Still, the higher number of "very" upset Kerry voters indicates a slightly higher intensity than that of Bush voters.

Ultimately, however, it is not clear how predictive either measure is of voter turnout.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,538 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 22-24, 2004. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

For results based on the 776 national adults in the Form A half-sample and 762 national adults in the Form B half-sample, the maximum margins of sampling error are ±4 percentage points.

Results based on likely voters are based on the subsample of 1,195 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 maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. The likely voter model assumes a turnout of 60% of national adults. The likely voter sample is weighted down to match this assumption.

For results based on the sample of 1,461 registered voters, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. This includes respondents who say they plan to register in states that allow same-day voter registration.

For results based on the 739 registered voters in the Form A half-sample and 722 registered voters in the Form B half-sample, the maximum margins of sampling error are ±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.

Get Articles in Related Topics:


Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/13792/Bush-Retains-Lead-Among-Likely-Voters-Now-51-46.aspx
Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030