Poll: Bush Back at 50 Percent Mark

Kerry's lead among unmarried men, similarly, has moderated from 63-23 percent Sunday to 56-41 percent now. That is still a significant lead, and enough to help keep Kerry in the hunt; single men in 2000 divided 48-46 percent between Gore and Bush.

While Kerry continues to do better than Gore did among single men, Bush is doing better among married women -- 55-43 percent over Kerry. Married women in 2000 split evenly.

Dems

Bush also is back to poaching more from his opponent's side: Twelve percent of Democratic likely voters support Bush, while six percent of Republicans prefer Kerry. Each party's candidate usually loses some from his side; the aim is not to let it happen disproportionately.

A difficulty for Kerry is that conservatives account for 15 percent of all Democrats, while liberals account for fewer, five percent, of all Republicans. And indeed, the Democrats who support Bush are much more likely to be conservative Democrats (and much less likely to be liberals).

Democrats who favor Bush also are more likely to be white (eight in 10, compared with two-thirds of all other Democrats); higher-income (58 percent are in $50,000+ households, compared with 44 percent of other Democrats); and Southerners.

Other groups are dividing much a they have in the past. Among racial groups, whites are dividing by 57-40 percent for Bush; blacks, 92-6 percent for Kerry; Hispanics, 68-28 percent for Kerry. And Kerry leads solidly among lower-income voters, while Bush is strongest among the better-off.

This survey also finds that 12 percent of "likely voters" in fact already have voted. As noted previously, they're disproportionately Westerners, older, somewhat more apt to be Republicans and tilt toward Bush.

Issues

Preference on the issues have been fairly stable lately: In the top three, 24 percent now call Iraq the single most important issue in their vote, 23 percent say it's the economy and jobs and 20 percent say it's terrorism.

Terrorism peaked at 28 percent after the Republican convention; it's decline has made it a tighter race, because those who pick it favor Bush by an overwhelming margin, now 88-11 percent. Those who call the economy the top issue favor Kerry by 71-25 percent; those who say it's Iraq favor Kerry by 59-38 percent.

Kerry has a similar lead among those who call health care the most important issue. And the lead goes back to Bush, by 68-29 percent, among those who cite some other issue as No. 1 -- 18 percent of all likely voters, with a wide range of factors and attributes motivating their ultimate choice.

Methodology

This poll was conducted October 25-28 among a random national sample of 2,820 adults, including 2,488 registered voters and 2,047 likely voters. The results have a two-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.

Click here for PDF version with full questionnaire and results.

See previous analyses in our Poll Vault.

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