Poll: Bush Has Slight Lead in Pa.

Among all registered voters in Pennsylvania, 47 percent are following the race "very closely," almost exactly the same as the level of attention at the national level (high compared with 2000).

Groups

There are significant gaps in presidential preference among population groups in Pennsylvania, as there are nationally. Among registered voters, men favor Bush by nine points while women favor Kerry by nine; whites favor Bush by nine points while nonwhites prefer Kerry by 56; it's Bush +11 among veterans and Kerry +29 among union members.

Bush has a huge 78 percent-20 percent lead among evangelical white Protestants in the state (about the same as nationally), while it's essentially tied, 49 percent-47 percent, among non-evangelical white Protestants (Bush +8 nationally). Each group accounts for about one in six Pennsylvania voters

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White Catholics, a quintessential swing voter group, account for three in 10 Pennsylvania registered voters (nearly double their national share), and they divide fairly closely — 51 percent favor Kerry, 46 percent Bush. Nationally, it's Bush +7 points in this group.

There also are sizable regional differences in Pennsylvania — a 63-point Kerry lead among registered voters in heavily Democratic Philadelphia, 16 points in Pittsburgh and the west and 12 points in the Philadelphia suburbs. Bush comes back with a 37-point lead in the central and northern counties, and a closer five-point edge in the state's northeast.

In their direct contact with voters, the campaigns are about evenly effective: Among Pennsylvanians who've been contacted by Bush representatives, 71 percent support him; among those who've heard from the Kerry campaign, 66 percent are on his side. A difference, as noted above, is that the Bush camp has made more contacts.

Senate Race

Specter, for his part, is winning women by nine points and men by a whopping 29. He's winning 55 percent of union voters, compared with Bush's 33 percent; three in 10 Democrats and more than a third of liberals; and 40 percent support from nonwhites, compared with Bush's 16 percent.

Likely voters in this survey account for 55 percent of the general population in Pennsylvania. Among this group, 41 percent identify themselves as Democrats, 36 percent as Republicans and 19 percent as independents. That's more Democratic than the party affiliation in the last ABC/Washington Post national poll (32 percent-38 percent-26 percent). It's also slightly different from recent exit poll results; in the last two presidential elections, Democrats accounted for an average of 41 percent of Pennsylvania voters on Election Day, Republicans for 40 percent.

If the race in Pennsylvania stays close, turnout will be crucial, which adds to the importance of the "ground war" — the extent to which the campaigns personally contact their supporters, and motivate them to show up on Nov. 2.

Methodology

This ABC News poll was conducted by telephone Sept. 9-12 among a random sample of 1,202 Pennsylvanians, including 960 registered voters. The results have a three-point error margin for registered voters, 3.5 points for likely voters. Sampling, data collection and tabulation were done by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

See previous analyses in our Poll Vault.

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