Poll: Bush, Kerry tied for popular vote
WASHINGTON – President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are locked in a tie for the popular vote, according to an Associated Press poll, while a chunk of voters vacillate between their desire for change and their doubts about the alternative.
Bush’s strength continues to be a perception by many voters that he is better qualified to protect the country, though his advantage on that has dwindled in recent weeks. A majority consider Kerry indecisive, less solid on national security.
Kerry’s strengths are Bush’s weaknesses – most voters believe the country is on the wrong track and disapprove of the incumbent’s handling of the economy, domestic affairs and Iraq.
The result is deadlock. In the survey of 976 likely voters, Democrats Kerry and Sen. John Edwards had 49 percent, compared to 46 percent for Republicans Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. That’s within the margin of error for the poll conducted Oct. 18-20.
There has been little or no change since the first debate, when an uneven performance cost Bush the lead over Kerry. The AP-Ipsos Public Affairs poll illuminates how both sides hope to break the logjam – Kerry by appealing to voters’ desire for a new direction and Bush by fanning their fears about the risks of change.
The target: about 17 percent of likely voters who say they’re undecided or are tentatively backing a candidate while remaining open to changing their minds.
Kerry’s total includes Warren Hutchinson, 55, of Dracut, Mass., who told AP-Ipsos he may switch to Bush. “There’s an uneasy feeling that Kerry may not be tough enough on terrorism,” he said.
Bush’s total includes Mark Silva, 56, of Redding, Calif., who called Kerry “two-faced” and too liberal. “I guess we’re stuck with Bush,” he said.
A number of other surveys show the race tied or give Bush a slight lead nationwide. The presidency will go to whoever gets a majority of the 538 Electoral College votes, a state-by-state chase that is just as close as national surveys.
As many as 10 states are tossups and a dozen more in contention, including two traditionally Democratic states in which Kerry is clinging to single-digit leads – New Jersey and Hawaii.