How Americans Voted

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Bush owes victory to support from conservative-leaning groups

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- An analysis of Gallup's final pre-election poll shows that George W. Bush's victory over John Kerry was led by strong support among groups that tend to be politically conservative -- men, whites, Southerners, married voters, churchgoers, Protestants, gun owners, and veterans, as well as his natural Republican supporters. Bush did well in states he won in 2000, and his advantage in those states was larger than the advantage Kerry had in states that Al Gore won in 2000. Generally speaking, Bush's support by subgroup rose slightly in nearly all groups, but this was probably because there were no significant third-party candidates attracting support this year as Ralph Nader did in 2000. But Bush improved on his 2000 performance among conservatives, urban residents, and regular churchgoers beyond what can be attributed to the lack of a significant third-party candidate, while he did less well among younger voters. 

The analysis is based on Gallup's final pre-election poll of Oct. 29-31, which showed Bush at 49% and Kerry at 47% among likely voters. Those overall figures and the figures for the subgroups are adjusted to the final two-party candidate vote totals of 51.5% for Bush and 48.5% for Kerry.  

Vote by Political Subgroup

Naturally, Bush's strongest groups were Republicans (+90 percentage points over Kerry) and conservatives (+60). Kerry, likewise, had large advantages among Democrats (+86 over Bush) and liberals (+76). Both candidates held the support of the majority of their partisans, with 95% of Republicans voting for Bush and 93% of Democrats voting for Kerry. Independents were slightly more likely to support Kerry (52%) than Bush (48%).

Bush had a 16-percentage point advantage among voters in states he won in 2000 (representing half of all voters), while Kerry had a slightly smaller advantage of 10 points among voters in states Gore won in 2000. Kerry did slightly better than Bush among voters in the so-called showdown states, those in which Gore or Bush won by fewer than six points in 2000. 

Subgroup

% of voters

% Voting for Bush

% Voting for Kerry

Bush advantage

 

 

 

 

 

Liberal

17

12

88

-76

Moderate

40

37

63

-26

Conservative

43

80

20

+60

 

 

 

 

 

Democrat

37

7

93

-86

Independent

24

48

52

-4

Republican

39

95

5

+90

 

 

 

 

 

Bush won state in 2000

50

58

42

+16

Gore won state in 2000

50

45

55

-10

 

 

 

 

 

States won by fewer than six points in 2000

35

48

52

-4

Vote by Demographic Subgroup

Looking at demographic differences, Bush fared well among gun owners (+30 over Kerry), weekly churchgoers (+26), Protestants (+24), military veterans (+20), married people (+20), non-Hispanic whites (+14), Southerners (+14), and men (+12).   

On the other hand, Kerry appealed most to blacks (+86), those residing in union households (+34), unmarried women (+28, and +10 among unmarried men), 18- to 29-year-olds (+20), those who seldom or never attend church (+20), Easterners (+16), and urban residents (+12).

Kerry had a small advantage among women, 52% to 48%, the smallest advantage for a Democratic candidate since 1992. Clinton had an 8-point advantage among women in 1992, 15 points in 1996, and Gore had an 8-point advantage in 2000. The total gender gap, however, was similar to what it was in 1996 and 2000 because Bush did better among men this year than did the Republican candidates in 1996 and 2000.    

Subgroup

% of voters

% Voting for Bush

% Voting for Kerry

Bush advantage

 

 

 

 

 

Men

46

56

44

+12

Women

54

48

52

-4

 

 

 

 

 

White (non-Hispanic)

87

57

43

+14

Nonwhite

13

17

83

-66

Black

8

7

93

-86

 

 

 

 

 

18 to 29 years old

13

40

60

-20

30 to 49 years old

38

57

43

+14

50 to 64 years old

26

53

47

+6

65 years and older

24

48

52

-4

 

 

 

 

 

East

23

42

58

-16

Midwest

23

52

48

+4

South

33

57

43

+14

West

22

52

48

+4

 

 

 

 

 

Urban

28

44

56

-12

Suburban

52

54

46

+8

Rural

20

54

46

+8

 

 

 

 

 

Postgraduate education

20

47

53

-6

College graduate (no postgrad)

15

58

42

+16

Some college

33

56

44

+12

High school or less education

32

46

54

-8

 

 

 

 

 

Married

58

60

40

+20

Not married

42

40

60

-20

 

 

 

 

 

Married men

30

61

39

+22

Unmarried men

16

45

55

-10

Married women

28

58

42

+16

Unmarried women

26

36

64

-28

 

 

 

 

 

Union household

14

33

67

-34

Non-union household

86

55

45

+10

 

 

 

 

 

Gun owner

35

65

35

+30

Non-gun owner

65

44

56

-12

 

 

 

 

 

Attend church weekly

31

63

37

+26

Attend church nearly weekly/monthly

29

55

45

+10

Seldom/Never attend church

40

40

60

-20

 

 

 

 

 

Protestant

53

62

38

+24

Catholic

26

48

52

-4

 

 

 

 

 

Military veteran

20

60

40

+20

Bush's Performance in 2000

Overall, Bush improved on his 2000 performance, winning 51% of the popular vote, compared with 48% in 2000. However, that mainly results from the lack of a significant performance by any third-party candidate this year who took votes away from the two major parties, such as Nader did in 2000. (To put it in perspective, Kerry, who lost the popular vote this year, got the same 48% as Gore in 2000, and Gore won the popular vote.) For the most part, Bush's 2004 performances are similar to what they were in 2000, other than the slight increase from the higher major-party vote. However, his gains among conservatives (+9), urban residents (+9), and weekly churchgoers (+7) suggest a real increase in support over 2000, while his seven-point drop in support among younger voters and six-point drop among rural residents indicates a significant decrease in support compared with 2000. 

Subgroup

Bush, 2000

Bush, 2004

Change

 

%

%

 

Overall

48

51

+3

 

 

 

 

Men

52

56

+4

Women

45

48

+3

 

 

 

 

White (non-Hispanic)

56

57

+1

Nonwhite

17

22

+5

Black

3

7

+4

 

 

 

 

18 to 29 years old

47

40

-7

30 to 49 years old

53

57

+4

50 to 64 years old

48

53

+5

65 years and older

42

48

+6

 

 

 

 

East

42

42

0

Midwest

48

52

+4

South

54

57

+3

West

47

52

+5

 

 

 

 

Urban

35

44

+9

Suburban

51

54

+3

Rural

60

54

-6

 

 

 

 

Postgraduate education

43

47

+4

College graduate (no postgrad)

55

58

+3

Some college

53

56

+3

High school or less education

45

46

+1

 

 

 

 

Liberal

9

12

+3

Moderate

41

37

-4

Conservative

71

80

+9

 

 

 

 

Democrat

10

7

-3

Independent

49

48

-1

Republican

92

95

+3

 

 

 

 

Married

57

60

+3

Not married

36

40

+4

 

 

 

 

Married men

59

61

+2

Unmarried men

49

45

-4

Married women

56

58

+2

Unmarried women

31

36

+5

 

 

 

 

Union household

31

33

+2

Non-union household

47

55

+8

 

 

 

 

Gun owner

59

65

+6

Non-gun owner

41

44

+3

 

 

 

 

Attend church weekly

56

63

+7

Attend church nearly weekly/monthly

51

55

+4

Seldom/Never attend church

41

40

-1

 

 

 

 

Protestant

55

62

+7

Catholic

46

48

+2

 

 

 

 

Bush state in 2000

55

58

+3

Gore state in 2000

40

42

+2

2000 battleground state

48

50

+2

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1.573 likely voters, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 29-31, 2004. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 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.

The results are adjusted to reflect the overall national popular two-party vote. 

 

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