People in this group tend to cite issues of morals or principles, and they divide differently than others: They split evenly on the nation's direction, 48 percent to 47 percent, but they're also more apt to support Bush than Kerry, 60 percent to 38 percent.
These "other issue" voters are different politically: They're more apt than other issue voters to be Republicans, by a 15-point margin, and to be conservatives, by 14 points.
On issues they include those who cite abortion as No. 1, 1 percent of all likely voters, and those who mention moral values, another 1 percent; but also those who cite the candidates' personality or their honesty, another 1 percent each. Another 1 percent say their top issue is removing Bush from office; 4 percent simply call it a combination of factors; and the rest, 9 percent, divide among a wide range of issues.
Verbatim response from these "other issue" voters helps deliver a sense of these individuals. "The erosion of personal liberties" is the top issue for one; "integrity" for another; for a third, "Kerry is in favor of the United Nations and I'm not."
A few cite same-sex marriage; others, stem-cell research, guns, immigration or Social Security. For each who's specific -- "taxes," "environment" or "Supreme Court judicial appointments" -- another is more atmospheric, citing "overall leadership" or "everything."
One says it's most important to "vote for the person who is a Christian," but for another the top voting issue is: "The church (has) got to get out of the White House." Some make personally disparaging remarks about one or the other candidate. "Kerry is way too liberal," contrasts with, "Bush did a horrible job."
As with the picture overall, these verbatim responses show, in sum, a nation divided.
Age continues to be a very striking factor in vote preferences. Kerry now leads by a wide 60 percent to 35 percent among likely voters age 18 to 29, a group that divided evenly between Bush and Al Gore, 46 percent to 48 percent, four years ago. Indeed most of the movement the past week has occurred specifically among young men; one reason is that they're more likely than others to cite the economy as the top issue in their vote.
This age gap also is expressed by marriage, with Kerry doing far better with singles, who tend to be younger. This could pose somewhat of an advantage for Bush, since young voters have a less reliable track record of showing up on Election Day. As Bush needs terrorism voters, Kerry needs young voters.
Vote Preferences by Age
If young voters do show up in great numbers, it could underscore the clout a concerted group can make. About half of 18- to 29-year-old likely voters say this will be their first time voting. Fewer in this age group, 33 percent, were first-timers in 2000.
An interesting aside to this gap by age -- and especially by marital status -- is that the gender gap has faded dramatically. In 2000 Bush won men by 11 points and Gore won women by 11; today it's Bush +1 among men, Kerry +4 among women. Bush, rather, has a big lead among married men and women alike (56 percent to 41 percent among all marrieds); Kerry, a big lead among single men and women alike (63 percent to 33 percent overall).