CBS News Poll Part 3

John Kerry and George W. Bush campaigning during 4th of July holiday weekend, 2004, side by side CBS/AP

ASSESSMENTS OF THE CANDIDATES
Voters' overall assessments of the Presidential candidates have changed little since last week. Opinions of Kerry continue to be negative. In this poll, 42 percent view him unfavorably -- the highest since CBS News and The New York Times starting asking about him. Three in ten voters have a favorable view him. Opinions of Bush remain positive by 47 percent to 38 percent, virtually unchanged since last week.

OPINIONS OF PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES
(Registered Voters)

Favorable
Kerry now
31%
Kerry last week
32%
Bush now
47%
Bush last week
47%

Unfavorable
Kerry now
42%
Kerry last week
41%
Bush now
38%
Bush last week
39%

Undecided/Haven't heard
Kerry now
27%
Kerry last week
26%
Bush now
15%
Bush last week
13%



INTERNATIONAL AND ECONOMIC MATTERS
Kerry has yet to recover the ground he lost after the Republican Convention on his perceived ability to handle foreign crises and the economy. Six in 10 voters are now uneasy with the idea of Kerry handling an international crisis -- his most negative assessment on this measure yet. Only 32 percent are confident in his ability. Voters are more closely divided on Bush's handling of such a crisis, but he enjoys a large edge over Kerry.

CONFIDENCE IN HANDLING INTERNATIONAL CRISIS
(Registered Voters)

Confident
Kerry now
32%
Kerry last week
35%
Bush now
51%
Bush last week
51%

Uneasy
Kerry now
60%
Kerry last week
57%
Bush now
48%
Bush last week
47%

On the economy -- the top issue voters want the candidates to discuss -- voters are uneasy about both Kerry and Bush making economic decisions. 56 percent are uneasy about Bush's approach to handling the economy, while 51 percent say the same about Kerry's approach. Prior to the Republican convention, Kerry had an advantage over Bush on this question.

CONFIDENCE IN MAKING RIGHT DECISIONS ABOUT NATION'S ECONOMY
(Registered Voters)

Confident
Kerry now
43%
Kerry last week
42%
Bush now
42%
Bush last week
41%

Uneasy
Kerry now
51%
Kerry last week
52%
Bush now
56%
Bush last week
56%

CHARACTER EVALUATIONS
The Republican convention's attacks on the Democratic nominee seems to be sticking for now. Less than a third of voters think Kerry says what he believes. Just 50 percent say he is a strong leader -- this poll's lowest evaluation for Kerry on this. 63 percent think Bush has strong qualities of leadership.

Although 55 percent of voters think Kerry shares the values that most Americans try to live by and another half say they like him personally, Bush gets higher marks on both these measures. Kerry is seen by voters as a candidate who cares about people, but the number who say this is lower than it was in July. One piece of good news for Kerry: while voters divide on whether either candidate shares their priorities, the number who says Kerry does is up 6 points from last week.

EVALUATIONS OF KERRY
(Registered Voters)

Cares about people like you
Now
64%
7/2004
72%

Shares American's moral values
Now
55%
5/2004
59%

Strong qualities of leadership
Now
50%
Last week
51%

Like him personally
Now
50%
7/2004
52%

Shares your priorities
Now
44%
Last week
38%

Says what he believes
Now
30%
Last week
32%

EVALUATIONS OF BUSH
(Registered Voters)

Cares about people like you
Now
58%
7/2004
59%

Shares Americans' moral values
Now
66%
5/2004
62%

Strong qualities of leadership
Now
63%
Last week
64%

Like him personally
Now
60%
7/2004
53%

Shares your priorities
Now
47%
Last week
47%

Says what believes
Now
55%
Last week
56%

Bush is still perceived as the candidate with a clear plan for the future. Half of voters say Bush has made clear what he wants to accomplish in the next four years, while most -- 57 percent -- think Kerry has not made it clear what he wants to accomplish as President.

IS IT CLEAR WHAT CANDIDATE WANTS TO ACCOMPLISH AS PRESIDENT?
(Registered Voters)

Yes
Kerry now
38%
Kerry last week
40%
Bush now
50%
Bush last week
54%

No
Kerry now
57%
Kerry last week
55%
Bush now
44%
Bush last week
40%

Kerry remains the candidate seen as more likely to listen to different points of view: 74 percent of voters say he does. A smaller majority -- 62 percent -- see the President this way. On whether the candidates are able to admit mistakes, 47 percent think Kerry is that kind of person, while 39 percent say he not. Opinions of the President are divided: 47 percent view Bush as someone who can admit mistakes, while 48 person think he is not able to do so.

TRAITS OF THE CANDIDATES

Listens to different views
Kerry now
74%
Kerry 6/2004
71%
Bush now
62%
Bush 6/2004
54%

Does not listen to different views
Kerry now
17%
Kerry 6/2004
17%
Bush now
34%
Bush 6/2004
42%

Is able to admit mistakes
Kerry now
47%
Kerry 6/2004
46%
Bush now
47%
Bush 6/2004
45%

Is not able to admit mistakes
Kerry now
39%
Kerry 6/2004
32%
Bush now
48%
Bush 2/2004
51%

THE VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES
Vice President Dick Cheney received a bit of a bump following the Republican convention and now his favorable rating is slightly higher than the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee John Edwards. 32 percent have a favorable opinion of Cheney, while 28 percent have a favorable view of Edwards. But voters are also more unfavorable towards the Vice President. Half of voters are still unable to rate Edwards and about a third cannot offer an opinion of Cheney.

VIEWS OF THE VP CANDIDATES
(Registered voters)

Favorable
Edwards now
28%
Edwards last week
34%
Cheney now
32%
Cheney last week
36%

Unfavorable
Edwards now
22%
Edwards last week
20%
Cheney now
33%
Cheney last week
33%

Undecided/No opinion
Edwards now
49%
Edwards last week
45%
Cheney now
34%
Cheney last week
30%

GEORGE W. BUSH AS PRESIDENT
The small boost President Bush received in his overall job rating following the Republican convention remains. 50 percent approve of the job Bush is doing as President -- the same number as last week. Still, less than half of Americans approve of Bush's handling of both the war in Iraq and the economy.

BUSH APPROVAL RATINGS
Now Last week 8/2004
Overall 50% 50% 46%
Handling terrorism 59% 62% 53%
Handling Iraq 46% 45% 40%
Handling economy 43% 44% 37%

Handling terrorism remains Bush's strongest area. 59 percent approve of the way he is handling the campaign against terrorism. This is down 3 points from last week but still higher than it was prior to the Republican convention. Moreover, 55 percent of voters think the policies of the Bush Administration have made the United States safer from terrorism. 24 percent say Bush's policies have made the country less safe, while 17 percent think they have had no effect.

BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S POLICIES HAVE MADE THE U.S.…
(Registered Voters)
Safer from terrorism 55%
Less safe 24%
No effect 17

As for where the country is headed, 51 percent of Americans say things in this country are off on the wrong track. But that number has been declining and is now at its lowest level since February. 41 percent say things are going in the right direction.

George W. Bush has been in office nearly four years, but many Americans still don't think he was the legitimate victor in the 2000 election. 44 percent of voters think George W. Bush did not legitimately win the 2000 election, a figure that has remained stable over the past few months. 51 percent think he did win legitimately.

About two-thirds of Americans are confident that votes this year will be properly counted, while 24 percent harbor some doubts. One in ten have not much or no confidence.

PARTY IDENTIFICATION
In most CBS News Polls, Democrats outnumber Republicans among registered voters. Personal identification with a party can change (temporarily or permanently) with events and voting preferences. In many states voters do not register with a party, and individual identification is a matter of choice. In this poll, where the Republicans hold a significant lead in voter preference and more voters hold negative views about Democratic nominee John Kerry, when voters are asked about their partisan identification at the end of the questionnaire, more identify themselves as Republicans. 36 percent say they are Republican, 32 percent Democrats. The percentage that identifies themselves as Democrats in this poll is lower than it has been in CBS News Polls conducted earlier in the year.




This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 1,287 adults interviewed by telephone September 12-16, 2004. There were 1,088 registered voters. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on all adults and all registered voters.

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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