The difference is that conservatives dominate the ranks of Republicans, while Democrats include a much higher share of moderates and even conservatives. Using data across the full length of this tracking poll, 51 percent of Democrats identify themselves as moderates, 30 percent as liberals and 16 percent as conservatives. Among Republicans, by contrast, 61 percent are conservatives, 32 percent moderates, 5 percent liberals.
Among likely voters in this survey, 36 percent are Democrats, 34 percent Republicans and 26 percent independents.
Kerry's also having fresh trouble with women. A usually Democratic-leaning group, they divide by a close 50 percent to 47 percent, Kerry-Bush, in this poll. Given Bush's strength among men -- he leads Kerry by 14 points -- Kerry needs to restore his support from women. (In 2000, Bush won men by 11 points, while Al Gore won women by the same margin.)
Kerry's problems with women are underscored by their assessments of the candidates' personal qualities. More women say Bush is the stronger leader and has taken a clearer stand on the issues, and they closely divide on who's more honest and trustworthy.
Bush leads Kerry by 53 percent to 47 percent among voters who say they've definitely made up their minds. Moveable voters, 12 percent of the total, divide by 41 percent to 37 percent, Bush-Kerry, with four percent for Nader and 18 percent undecided.
Moveables move: Their preferences have ranged across tracking, since Oct. 1, from +17 Kerry to +6 Bush. And this group, like new voters, may present challenges in terms of turnout -- they're more apt to be independents, they're following the race less closely and they're younger.
This poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 16-18 among a random national sample of 1,802 adults, including 1,593 registered voters and 1,147 likely voters. The results have a three-point error margin for the likely voter sample. ABC News and "The Washington Post" are sharing data collection for this tracking poll, then independently applying their own models to arrive at likely voter estimates. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.
See previous analyses in our Poll Vault.