NPR Poll: Bush, Kerry in Tight Race

President's Approval Rating Takes First Dip Below 50 Percent

Poll graphic

President Bush and Sen. John Kerry remain in a statistical dead heat in the latest NPR presidential poll. (Note: Data for 2003 is for Bush vs. a "Democratic nominee.") Geoff Gaudreault, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Geoff Gaudreault, NPR

As Democrats prepare to formalize John Kerry's presidential nomination in Boston this week, the race between the Massachusetts senator and President Bush is likely to be a close one, according to the latest NPR poll. NPR's Mara Liasson reports.

In the poll, conducted July 18-20, Kerry was favored by 47 percent of respondents, the president by 46. The poll's margin of error is 3.46 percent. But the survey also shows Kerry leading in swing states — those in which neither party's presidential candidate dominated in the 2000 election.

Fifty-four percent of poll respondents also continue to see the country as being on the wrong track, compared with 40 percent saying things are going in the right direction. That also matches the June poll.

And President Bush's approval rating has fallen to 49 percent — the first time it has slipped below 50 percent (where it was in June), according to the latest poll, conducted for NPR by Democrat Stan Greenberg and Republican Bill McInturff.

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