Sunday, October 17, 2004

Bad News For The Gigilo and Ambulance Chaser

October 14-16
Choice for President

Likely Registered
Voters Voters

Bush 52% 49%
Kerry 44 46
Nader 1 1


Interviews with 1,013 adult Americans, including 788 likely voters and 942 registered voters, conducted by telephone on October 14-16, 2004

Although Americans think John Kerry did the best job in the debates, that has not translated into an increase in his popularity, which in turn means that he appears to have lost a little ground to Bush. Among registered voters, a 48%-48% tie is now a 49%-46% edge for Bush -- not much of a difference and, with the sampling error, not a significant change. The Gallup likely voter model, which identified those respondents who are most likely to cast a ballot, is magnifying those shifts, with a 49%-48% advantage for Kerry turning into a 52%-44% lead for Bush. What's going on?

For one thing, the charge that Kerry is too liberal, which Bush emphasized mostly in the third and last debate on Wednesday night, seems to be sticking. Nearly half say Kerry's political views are too liberal. (Four in ten say Bush is too conservative.) But didn't Kerry win the debate? Yes, as with the first two debates, the public thinks Kerry did the better job on Wednesday night. But as Al Gore learned in 2000, winning a debate on points does not necessarily translate into votes or make a candidate more popular. As in 2000, Bush's favorable ratings -- Americans view of him as a person -- went up after a debate that he lost. Kerry's favorable rating has remained flat. Republicans seem more enthusiastic about the election, and thus more likely to vote, as reflected in the Gallup likely voter model.

Bush may have energized his base in the final debate at the expense of not appealing to a wider audience -- but he managed to do so in a way that made him more popular than Kerry.


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