More Republicans and conservatives side with their man than Democrats and liberals with theirs. Eighty-nine percent of Republican likely voters and 81 percent of conservatives trust Bush more to handle Supreme Court appointments; that compares with three-quarters of Democrats and liberals for Kerry. (Bush also comes out ahead because there simply are more conservatives than liberals among likely voters, 35 percent to 20 percent.)
Few voters volunteer the issue of court appointments as the single most important factor in their vote. Nonetheless, in a close race, any and every issue can matter. Rehnquist's illness gives both candidates an opportunity to invigorate their bases about the high court's importance in hot-button issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.
Finally, there's the Nader factor. He's attracted just 1 percent support across ABC News tracking polls. Aggregating all registered voters who support him indicates that his support comes far more from political independents than from Democrats or Republicans (although a bit more of the former), and that his supporters are younger -- a third of them age 18 to 29. Plus, they are less likely to be following the race very closely and less apt to be political conservatives. Nader supporters also are much less apt to cite terrorism as their top issue, and much more apt to cite the economy.
This profile suggests Nader may take more support from Kerry than from Bush, since Kerry, too, does better with young and single voters and with those concerned with the economy. At the same time, with just 1 percent support, it's entirely possible that Nader is not drawing significantly from either Kerry or Bush, and instead mainly attracting supporters who otherwise wouldn't vote.
This poll was conducted Oct. 23-26 among a random national sample of 2,412 adults, including 2,107 registered voters and 1,709 likely voters. The results have a 2.5-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 were done by TNS of Horsham, Pa.
See previous analyses in our Poll Vault.