Monday, October 18, 2004

Two major national polls taken after the final presidential debate show President Bush gaining a lead over Sen. John Kerry, even though the same polls show Mr. Kerry as the overall winner in the candidates’ three debates.

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released yesterday showed Mr. Bush with 52 percent and Mr. Kerry with 44 percent among likely voters, a sharp reversal from earlier in the month, when the poll found the Democratic challenger leading the president by one percentage point, 49 percent to 48 percent.

The latest Newsweek poll shows Mr. Bush leading 50 percent to 44 percent for Mr. Kerry among likely voters. Mr. Kerry had a 47 percent to 45 percent lead in Newsweek’s Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 poll of registered voters. Among all registered voters in the latest Newsweek poll, taken Thursday and Friday, Mr. Bush led 48 percent to 46 percent.

Both polls scored Mr. Kerry the winner in the Wednesday debate, with Gallup finding that the Massachusetts Democrat won 52 percent to 39 percent and Newsweek finding that Mr. Kerry won 44 percent to 36 percent. The two polls also had shown Mr. Kerry winning the earlier debates with Mr. Bush.

Two other polls released yesterday showed Mr. Bush leading Mr. Kerry by smaller margins among likely voters, with Zogby International showing Mr. Bush ahead 46 percent to 44 percent and a Time magazine poll showing him leading 48 percent to 47 percent.

Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie said Mr. Bush’s lead has been consistent.

“It’s not just the Gallup poll,” he told CNN’s “Late Edition” yesterday. “There is a range — two, four, six, eight — literally, the last four polls that have come out showing the president ahead.”

The reason, Mr. Gillespie said, is that potential voters watching the debates “saw that Senator Kerry is someone who has a long record of voting for higher taxes.”

Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said Mr. Kerry “won all three” debates and that the polls showed no clear trend.

“George Bush, in the three debates, could not defend his failed policies,” Mr. McAuliffe told CNN. “That’s why, if you look at the polling data, last week we were up a couple. These numbers are moving all over the place.”

Mr. McAuliffe added that there will be the “largest vote turnout percentage-wise” since 1960, and stressed that Democrats are putting together “the largest voter mobilization in the history of our party.”

“There’s one poll that matters,” he said. “That’s on Nov. 2.”Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” the president’s brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, yesterday lamented the profusion of polls.

“God, there’s so many polls,” the governor said. “I mean, it’s like you could just be obsessed with focusing on that rather than the reason to support somebody.”

The Zogby poll reported a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points, while the other three — Gallup, Newsweek and Time — had four-point margins of error.

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