Some of these Bush leads are enormous: Registered voters in Wisconsin say by 20 to 30 points that he's the stronger leader, will make the country safer and has taken a clearer stand on the issues. (Even among Democrats, 27 percent see Bush as the stronger leader and 24 percent say he's taken clearer stands.) And Bush holds 10- to 15-point leads as the candidate with the more appealing personality, as a better commander-in-chief and on honesty. It's Bush +8 on another attribute, "shares your values."
Bush's advantage as a strong leader, on which he's preferred by 60 percent to 32 percent over Kerry, is another in which his margin in Wisconsin is bigger than in ABC's Pennsylvania poll (and more like its level nationally in an ABC News/Washington Post poll Sept. 9). It matters: Wisconsinites by 55 percent to 37 percent say having a strong leader as president is more important to them than someone who understands their problems. And Bush wins support from seven in 10 of those who say a strong leader is more important.
Favorables and Strengths
Several other results in this poll underscore Kerry's difficulties in Wisconsin. As was the case in the last national ABC/Post poll, he has a net negative personal favorability rating — just 37 percent of Wisconsin's registered voters have a positive impression of him, while 43 percent see him unfavorably.
Bush by contrast has a 52 percent favorability rating and 54 percent job approval among registered voters in Wisconsin. Indeed among likely voters, his job rating is 57 percent.
And enthusiasm for Kerry is weaker than for Bush. Thirty-nine percent of Kerry's supporters in this poll say they are "very enthusiastic" about him, compared with 51 percent of Bush's.
As has been the case nationally, most of Kerry's support is more of an anti-Bush vote than a pro-Kerry one. Fifty-four percent of Kerry's Wisconsin supporters say their vote is more against Bush than for Kerry. Eight in 10 Bush supporters, by contrast, are for him.
Forging change may be difficult. Fewer than two in 10 registered voters say there's a chance they'll change their mind, and it's just 14 percent among likely voters. And fewer — in the single digits — say there's a "good chance" they may change.
As noted, 51 percent of registered voters are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States, 47 percent are satisfied. Among those who are dissatisfied, 17 percent support Bush; while a bit fewer of those who are satisfied, 11 percent, go to Kerry.
Similarly, 43 percent of registered voters say most people in Wisconsin have become worse off financially under Bush. But 15 percent of them support Bush nonetheless, and he holds huge advantages among those who say most people are better off, or the same.
Kerry leads Bush by 15 to 22 points among Wisconsin voters who cite either Iraq, the economy or health care as the single most important issue in their vote. In that sense his appeal on issues can be said to be broader than Bush's.
But Bush's is deeper: Among people who call terrorism their top issue, nearly nine in 10 back him. And Bush holds a 49-point lead among Wisconsin voters who say the country's safer now than it was before Sept. 11, 2001. Fifty-nine percent think so.