Republican anger directed at Sen. John Kerry has risen in the past three weeks, but it still falls short of the ire Democrats directed at President Bush. That anger counters the greater enthusiasm Republicans feel for Bush -- and it's one reason the race is close.
Bush overall has a nine-point advantage over Kerry in strong enthusiasm (down from its highest levels), while Kerry has a 20-point edge in the anger factor. The race may hinge on which of these sentiments turns out to be more powerful in driving people to the polls.
Turnout, of course, is key in a close race, and this one is: Same as the last two days, 49 percent of likely voters support Kerry and 48 percent favor Bush in the latest ABC News tracking poll, with 1 percent for Ralph Nader.
|Sampling, data collection and tabulation for this poll were done by TNS.|
Today's result is from Saturday-Tuesday interviews, of which Monday and Tuesday nights were better for Bush, and Saturday and Sunday were two of Kerry's three best days since this tracking poll began Oct 1. A three-day average, excluding Saturday, shifts the numbers ever so slightly to 49 percent to 48 percent Bush-Kerry, still essentially a dead heat between them.
Among likely voters who support Kerry, 46 percent are angry about Bush's policies, about the same as earlier this month. Among Bush supporters, fewer, 26 percent, are angry about the policies Kerry's proposed -- but that's up from 17 percent previously.
Anger at Bush peaks among his ideological opposites, liberals, at 57 percent, and it's 47 percent among his political opposites, Democrats. Fewer conservatives or Republicans are angry at Kerry, 31 percent and 30 percent respectively. Again, though, that's up from 22 percent and 18 percent of conservatives and Republicans earlier this month.
Enthusiasm is the flipside of anger, and there's been some movement here as well. Strong enthusiasm among Bush and Kerry supporters alike has decreased slightly in the last few days, perhaps as a result of the increased intensity of the candidates' rhetoric.
Today, 55 percent of likely voters who support Bush are "very enthusiastic" about his candidacy, the fewest since late July, and down 10 points from its peak, 65 percent, on Sept. 26, shortly before the first presidential debate.
Among Kerry supporters, 46 percent say they're very enthusiastic, down four points from three days ago, and also 13 points below its peak after his nominating convention.
While Bush has the advantage in enthusiasm, it's narrowed. His supporters were 22 points more apt to be "very enthusiastic" than Kerry's on Sept. 8, and 23 points more on Sept. 26. It got closer after Kerry's strong showing in the first debate.
News this week of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist's thyroid cancer raised the issue of Supreme Court nominations as a possible factor in the campaign. This poll finds that likely voters trust Bush over Kerry to handle Supreme Court appointments, by 49 percent to 42 percent; it was 49 percent to 36 percent early last month, again right after Bush's convention.