In the polls

By Jeff Horwitz
Published October 19, 2004 5:06PM (EDT)

The New York Times calls the national horse race a tie at 46 percent among registered voters. That's good news for Kerry, as the challenger traditionally picks up a majority of the undecided voters on Election Day.

Zogby's tracking poll concurs with the Times, finding both candidates tied at 45 percent for the second straight day among likely voters. Rasmussen's tracking poll isn't too far off from that, giving Bush a 48-47 lead.

And exactly two weeks before the election, the Times reports that Bush's disapproval ratings are near an all-time high. Only 43 percent of those surveyed approved of the president, 45 percent disapproved. That number isn't much worse than Kerry's, who earned disapproval from 44 percent of voters. But while Kerry's own numbers certainly aren't reason for him to celebrate, he should be thrilled with Bush's: In recent elections, an incumbent candidate's share of the vote almost never exceeds his approval rating on Election Day.

Bush also stacks up poorly against another candidate -- himself. In October of 2000, voters surveyed by the New York Times approved of the then Texas governor by a 48-33 margin.

In state-by-state polling, Survey USA reports that Kerry now leads in two out of three of the big swing states: He's ahead 50-49 in Florida, and by a 51-45 margin in Pennsylvania. And though recent New Jersey state polls have shown that Bush is surprisingly competitive, a Rutgers-Eagleton Ledger poll thinks he's wasting his time: Kerry leads 51-38.

Finally, a Newsweek poll shows young voters favor Kerry, though not overwhelmingly. Kerry leads among all voters aged 18-29 by a margin of 47-45, though his advantage increases among likely voters to 52-42. One reason that the youth turnout might be high this year is that more than a third of them expect a draft to come back. 34 percent said it was at least "somewhat likely" that the United States would be returning to conscription as a result of the Iraq war.

Jeff Horwitz

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