Kerry, for his part, has directly blamed the administration for the shortage, including a radio ad that specifically mentioned elderly Americans, young children and pregnant women as being at risk. Bush's chief political adviser called it "a desperate overreach."
Kerry also has sought advantage on the draft issue, telling a newspaper editorial board that there would be "a great potential of the draft" if Bush were re-elected. Bush has ruled out a resumption of the draft, and on this and other issues accused Kerry of "shameless scare tactics."
As noted, 77 percent in this survey oppose resuming the draft, including 59 percent who strongly oppose it; 18 percent are in favor. Opposition peaks at 86 percent among 18- to 30-year-olds, with most, 67 percent, strongly opposed. Support is highest in the South (25 percent), among evangelical white Protestants (24 percent) and among Bush supporters (24 percent).
Suspicion of the candidates' plans on the draft are fueled by partisanship: Kerry supporters are much more apt to think Bush would re-impose it; Bush supporters are more apt to think that Kerry would. But this suspicion does land more heavily on Bush: Among Kerry voters, 65 percent think he'd be likely to re-impose the draft; among Bush supporters, far fewer, 31 percent, think Kerry would do so.
There is also somewhat greater suspicion of Bush in the center. Thirty-five percent of independents think Bush would be likely to resume the draft; fewer, 22 percent, think Kerry would.
This poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 17-19, 2004 among a random national sample of 1,801 adults, including 1,586 registered voters and 1,134 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.