Bush Leads by Eight Points - or Two - Depending on Definition of Likely Voters
Race Appears Tighter in Swing States
ROCHESTER, N.Y., Oct. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- With only two weeks to go before the election, a new Harris Poll finds President George W. Bush leading Senator John Kerry, but the size of the lead depends on how we define likely voters. And in 17 swing states -- in which votes for President Bush and Vice President Al Gore were virtually tied in the 2000 elections -- Senator Kerry is doing better and, using one definition of likely voters, the poll shows him ahead. However, the sampling error on this sub-sample in the swing states is substantially higher than for the nationwide sample. These are some of the results of a nationwide Harris Poll of 1,016 U.S. adults surveyed by telephone between October 14 and 17, 2004. Using one definition of likely voters, those who are registered to vote and are "absolutely certain" to vote, the poll shows President Bush with a modest two-point lead (48% to 46%). Using this definition but excluding all those who were old enough to vote in 2000 but did not do so, President Bush has a commanding eight-point lead (51% to 43%). This second definition has proved more accurate in the past, but there are some indications that in this election many people who did not vote in 2000 will turn out to vote, in which case it would be wrong to exclude them. Adding to the confusion about how to define likely voters (and Harris Interactive(R) has not yet decided which definition to use in our final predictions) this poll suggests that Senator Kerry may be doing better in the swing states, in which the battle for electoral college votes will be decided. In 17 swing states (where the total popular vote was tied 48% to 48% in the 2000 election) this poll shows Senator Kerry with a seven-point lead using one definition of likely voters (51% to 44%) and a tie using the other definition (47% each). While these numbers should be treated with caution because of the small sample sizes, they suggest the possibility that the popular vote and the electoral college vote may divide differently, as they did in 2000. This poll also confirms that most likely voters (86%) believe they have made up their minds and will not change them. Bush supporters are more likely than Kerry supporters to say this. However, Kerry supporters (45%) are a little more likely than Bush supporters (39%) to believe that the result of this election will make a great deal of difference to them or their families -- which may increase their likely turnout. Another pair of questions shed light on the reasons why people are supporting the two candidates. Most voters for Bush and for Kerry say they are voting more for their choice rather than against his opponent. However, 40 percent of Kerry supporters say their vote is more a vote against Bush than for Kerry, while only 17 percent of Bush supporters say they are voting mainly against Kerry. TABLE 1 BUSH VS. KERRY Q: "If the next presidential election were held today between George W. Bush for the Republicans, John Kerry for the Democrats and Ralph Nader as an Independent, for whom would you most likely vote?" If respondent said "not sure/refused": Q: "Well, if you had to say would you lean toward George W. Bush, John Kerry, or Ralph Nader?" Base: Likely Voters Likely Voters Likely Voters (1) (2) % % George W. Bush 48 51 John Kerry 46 43 Ralph Nader 1 1 Other 1 1 Not sure/Refused 4 4 Bush Lead 2 8 Likely Voters (1): Adults who are registered to vote and say they are "absolutely certain" to vote (n=820). Likely Voters (2): Adults who are registered to vote and say they are "absolutely certain" to vote and that (if they were old enough) they voted in 2000 (n=755). TABLE 2 BUSH VS. KERRY IN 17 SWING STATES Q: "If the next presidential election were held today between George W. Bush for the Republicans, John Kerry for the Democrats and Ralph Nader as an Independent, for whom would you most likely vote?" If respondent said "not sure/refused": Q: "Well, if you had to say would you lean toward George W. Bush, John Kerry, or Ralph Nader?" Base: Likely Voters in Swing States Likely Voters Likely Voters (1) (2) % % George W. Bush 44 47 John Kerry 51 47 Ralph Nader * * Other 1 1 Not sure/Refused 4 4 Bush Lead -7 - Likely Voters (1): Adults who are registered to vote and say they are "absolutely certain" to vote (n=319). Likely Voters (2): Adults who are registered to vote and say they are "absolutely certain" to vote and that (if they were old enough) they voted in 2000 (n=293). NOTE: This table is based on only 319 and 293 likely voters with a larger sampling error (plus or minus 6 percentage points) than for Table 1. * = Less than 0.5 percent. TABLE 3 MADE UP MIND OR MAY CHANGE IT "As far as your voting in the presidential election on November 2nd, have you...?" Base: Likely Voters Likely Election Preference: Voters Bush Kerry % % % Firmly made your decision and won't change your mind 86 91 84 Made a decision but still might change your mind 7 6 9 Not made up your mind yet 7 4 6 Likely Voters: Adults who are registered to vote and say they are "absolutely certain" to vote (n=820). TABLE 4 HOW MUCH DIFFERENCE RESULT WILL MAKE "How much difference do you think the result of the election for president will make to you and your family -- a great deal of difference, quite a lot, not much, or no difference at all?" Base: Likely Voters or Already Voted Likely Election Preference: Voters Bush Kerry % % % A great deal of difference 43 39 45 Quite a lot 30 30 31 Not much 19 23 19 No difference at all 6 5 4 Not sure/Refused 1 2 * Likely Voters: Adults who are registered to vote and say they are "absolutely certain" to vote (n=828 for Likely Voters or Already Voted). Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding. * = Less than 0.5 percent. TABLE 5 ARE BUSH VOTERS VOTING FOR HIM OR AGAINST KERRY? "Is your support for President George Bush more a vote for George Bush OR a vote against John Kerry?" Base: Likely Voters Who Prefer George W. Bush Total % For George W. Bush 82 Against John Kerry 17 Not sure/Refused 1 Likely Voters: Adults who are registered to vote and say they are "absolutely certain" to vote (n=428 for Likely Voters Who Prefer Bush). TABLE 6 ARE KERRY VOTERS VOTING FOR HIM OR AGAINST BUSH? "Is your support for Senator John Kerry more a vote for John Kerry OR a vote against George Bush?" Base: Likely Voters Who Prefer John Kerry Total % For John Kerry 58 Against George W. Bush 40 Not sure/Refused 2 Likely Voters: Adults who are registered to vote and say they are "absolutely certain" to vote (n=383 for Likely Voters Who Prefer Kerry). Methodology The Harris Poll(R) was conducted by telephone within the United States between October 14 and 17, 2004 among a nationwide cross section of 1,016 adults (ages 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race, education, number of adults, number of voice/telephone lines in the household, region and size of place were weighted where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. The two definitions of likely voters are based on samples of 820 and 755, and the two samples of likely voters in swing states are 319 and 293. In theory, with a probability sample of this size (820 or 755), one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results have a statistical precision of plus or minus 3 percentage points of what they would be if the entire U.S. adult population of likely voters had been polled with complete accuracy. Statistical precision for the likely voters in swing states samples (319 and 293) is plus or minus 6 percentage points. Unfortunately, there are several other possible sources of error in all polls or surveys that are probably more serious than theoretical calculations of sampling error. They include refusals to be interviewed (nonresponse), question wording and question order, interviewer bias, weighting by demographic control data and screening (e.g., for likely voters). It is impossible to quantify the errors that may result from these factors. These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. J22300 Q439, Q440, Q441, Q442, Q443, Q445 About Harris Interactive(R) Harris Interactive (www.harrisinteractive.com) is a global research firm that blends premier strategic consulting with innovative and efficient methods of investigation, analysis and application. Well known for The Harris Poll(R) and for pioneering Internet-based research methods, Rochester, New York-based Harris Interactive conducts proprietary and public research to help its clients around the world achieve clear, material and enduring results. Harris Interactive combines its intellectual capital, databases and technology to advance market leadership through its U.S. offices and wholly owned subsidiaries: London-based HI Europe (www.hieurope.com), Paris-based Novatris (www.novatris.com), Tokyo-based Harris Interactive Japan, recently acquired U.S.-based WirthlinWorldwide (www.wirthlinworldwide.com) and through a global network of affiliate firms. EOE M/F/D/V To become a member of the Harris Poll Online(SM) and be invited to participate in future online surveys, visit www.harrispollonline.com. Press Contacts: Nancy Wong Harris Interactive 585-214-7316 Kelly Gullo Harris Interactive 585-214-7172
SOURCE Harris Interactive
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