NPR Poll: Likely Voters Focused Keenly on Election

Eight Months Before 2004 Vote, Americans Extremely Polarized

Sen. Kerry/ President Bush

Left: Sen. John Kerry; Right: President George W. Bush Reuters Limited hide caption

itoggle caption Reuters Limited

Eight months before the U.S. presidential election, likely voters are paying unusually close attention to the contest ahead, and they're extremely polarized in their views, according to the latest NPR poll.

The study, conducted by Republican pollster Bill McInturff and Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, found that when rating their interest in the coming election on a scale of one to 10, 63 percent of likely voters put themselves at a level of 10. McInturff says interest in this election already exceeds interest in the previous two presidential elections two weeks before those votes.

The poll also revealed an electorate almost evenly divided between President Bush and his presumed Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry. At 53 percent, Bush's approval rating remains healthy. But when asked whom they'd vote for today, 47 percent of likely voters chose Bush, while 45 percent picked Kerry — a virtual tie.

Bush's support remains high among Republicans — two-thirds say they strongly approve of his job performance. But this is counterbalanced by equally intense opposition from Democrats, two-thirds of whom say they strongly disapprove of Bush and the job he's doing. NPR's Mara Liasson reports.

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