Poll: Bush Has Likeability Edge on Kerry


May 2, 2004 -- George W. Bush has an edge on John Kerry on the personal attributes of compassion, values and likeability, another reason Bush has improved his overall position against Kerry since the Democratic primaries.

Americans, by an eight-point margin, pick Bush over Kerry as "friendly and likeable" and as "caring and compassionate," and by a seven-point margin as someone who "shares my values and beliefs," an ABCNEWS/Washington Post poll finds.

The two are about even (Bush +4, too close for polling tolerances) on another positive attribute, being a "people person," and they're also about evenly matched on two negative attributes — being "cold and distant" and having a "boring personality."

These findings are in accord with a separate ABCNEWS/Post poll completed April 18, in which Bush was rated more highly than Kerry on attributes such as consistency, truthfulness, trustworthiness and strong leadership. They had about the same rating on "admitting mistakes," and Kerry was better rated on understanding the problems of average people.

In vote preference in that April 18 poll, Bush and Kerry ran about even head-to-head, with a slight Bush edge with Ralph Nader in the race. That was a bit better for Bush and a bit worse for Kerry compared to a March 7 poll, at the end of the Democratic primary contest.


There are divisions among population groups, with Bush scoring particularly well on these attributes in the South and, naturally, among Republicans. Kerry is strong among Democrats, and does better than Bush on values and likeability among people in low-income households.

There are also differences by age. Bush does better among senior citizens on likeability, values and compassion, while more than half of young Americans call Bush "cold and distant" and give Kerry the edge on likeability and being a "people person."


This ABCNEWS/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone April 21-25, 2004, among a random national sample of 1,021 adults. The results have a 4.5-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation were done by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

See previous analyses and details of the poll's methodology in our Poll Vault.