Poll: Bush in Lead as Debates Loom

Among other groups to watch, Kerry's winning 53 percent support from people in union households (Gore won 59 percent of union-household votes in 2000), while military veterans, 16 percent of likely voters, are dividing 64 percent to 35 percent for Bush.

The sharp differences among these groups underscore the importance of turnout.

Contact

In an indication of the level of effort being expended by both campaigns, 15 percent of registered voters say they've personally been contacted by a representative of the Bush campaign asking for their vote. About the same number, 14 percent, have been contacted by Kerry's campaign. In the 13 most closely contested states, however, Bush has an advantage: Twenty-seven percent say they've been contacted by Bush's campaign, compared with 15 percent who've been contacted by Kerry's.

Party Time

A final note, and a final worry for Kerry, is political party identification. It's shifted lately, which is not surprising in an election; moving political allegiance is what campaigns are all about. Republicans held an advantage in party allegiance among likely voters in the last ABC/Post poll, taken after Bush's convention: 38 percent to 32 percent, with 26 percent independents. It's a closer 35-36-24 percent in this poll, yet Bush still leads.

Methodology

This ABC News/"Washington Post" poll was conducted by telephone Sept. 23-26 among a random national sample of 1,204 adults, including 969 registered voters and 810 likely voters. The results have a three-point error margin for registered voters, 3.5 points for likely voters. Sampling, data collection and tabulation was conducted by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

See previous analyses in our Poll Vault.

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