Poll: Virtual Dead Heat in Race's Final Days

Kerry continues to hold a 2-1 lead among those who cite the economy, Iraq, health care or education as their main concern. Critically for Bush, he comes back among those who cite some other issue; this group has grown from 9 percent of likely voters in early September to 20 percent now, and they favor Bush by 62 percent-33 percent. While they cite a wide range of issues, a good number of them mention the candidates' personal qualities, or matters involving religious or moral views.

Expectation

On the expectations game, 88 percent of Bush's supporters expect him to win, while fewer of Kerry's, 65 percent, are willing to predict success for their side. Indeed, as noted, 21 percent of Kerry's supporters think Bush will win; just 3 percent of Bush's supporters, by contrast, expect the race to go to Kerry.

Young voters, that important Kerry support group, expect by 52 percent-38 percent that Bush will win; an open question, again, is whether and how that expectation may affect their turnout. And in two key swing voter groups, 51 percent of independents, and 55 percent of white Catholics, expect Bush ultimately to prevail.

For all the divided groups in this election, there is one area where there's broad agreement: Roughly equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats, Bush and Kerry supporters, liberals and conservatives, and young voters and old -- about three-quarters in each case -- call this election one of the most important of their lives.

Methodology

This poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 27-30, 2004, among a random national sample of 3,617 adults, including 3,165 registered voters and 2,615 likely voters. The results have a two-point error margin for the likely voter sample. 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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