In vote preferences, more of a gender gap has opened up in recent days. Bush now leads Kerry by 14 points among men, while Kerry has a narrower five-point edge among women, a more Democratic-leaning group. In the two key swing voter groups, independents divide by 48 percent-44 percent between Bush and Kerry; while Bush has opened a nine-point lead among white Catholics, 53 percent-44 percent.
Kerry's personal ratings improved after more viewers said he won the first presidential debate Sept. 30, and subsequently he moved into a closer race with Bush. Viewers of the second presidential debate, Friday night, divided evenly on who won.
The vote preference questions in this poll were conducted by telephone Oct. 6-9, 2004, among a random national sample of 2,407 adults, including 2,030 registered voters and 1,589 likely voters. The results have a 2.5-point error margin among likely voters. ABC News and The Washington Post are sharing data collection for this tracking poll, then independently applying their own models to arrive at likely voter estimates. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.
See previous analyses in our Poll Vault.