Poll: Bush Gains Ground

As noted, Bush holds the upper hand in the size-of-government battle. Nearly seven in 10 registered voters think Gore favors “larger government with many services.” By contrast, nearly six in 10 say they personally prefer “smaller government with fewer services,” and six in 10 think Bush does, as well.

Bush has gained ground here. The number of people who think Gore favors larger government has gained 10 points since midsummer, and the number who think Bush favors smaller government likewise has grown.

Gender Gap Remains Intact

Bush’s gains on issues may be helping boost his prospects in some voter groups. He’s doing better among older Americans (Medicare/drugs) and he leads Gore among parents with school-age children (education).

Among women, Gore’s lead is down from 18 points last week to nine now, with most of the change coming among white women. Men still favor Bush by a large margin, 17 points. This makes the gender gap about twice its average in the last five elections.

Even with Bush’s advances in these groups, the race is deadlocked among independents, ultimately the key swing voter group in this or any election. Bush is supported by 44 percent of independents to Gore’s 43 percent, similar to where it was a week ago.

In fact, vote preferences among Democrats, independents and Republicans haven’t changed; instead more Republicans are showing up as likely voters. In last week’s poll there were six points more Democrats than Republicans among likely voters; in this week’s poll, there’s one point more. (The average in the last three presidential elections was three points.)

A smaller but critical group is changeable voters — those who say they don’t have a strong preference and may change their minds, or are outright undecided. They account for 10 percent of all likely voters, and this week they split evenly between Gore and Bush.

Methodology

This ABCNEWS/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 6-9, 2000. The results are based on a random sample of 826 likely voters, estimating a 50 percent turnout. The issues questions are based on interviews with 965 registered voters. The results have a three-point error margin. Field work by TNS Intersearch of Horsham, Pa.

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