The Race is OnThat's not all. Kerry has cut into many of W's trademarks. But most Americans feel Bush will steal this one again. Essentially, many Americans have lost faith in the system. THESE are the people we need to drive to the polls Nov. 2.
With a solid majority of voters concluding that John Kerry outperformed George W. Bush in the first presidential debate on Thursday, the president's lead in the race for the White House has vanished, according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll. In the first national telephone poll using a fresh sample, NEWSWEEK found the race now statistically tied among all registered voters, 47 percent of whom say they would vote for Kerry and 45 percent for George W. Bush in a three-way race.
Removing Independent candidate Ralph Nader, who draws 2 percent of the vote, widens the Kerry-Edwards lead to three points with 49 percent of the vote versus the incumbent's 46 percent. Four weeks ago the Republican ticket, coming out of a successful convention in New York, enjoyed an 11-point lead over Kerry-Edwards with Bush pulling 52 percent of the vote and the challenger just 41 percent.
Among the three-quarters (74 percent) of registered voters who say they watched at least some of Thursday's debate, 61 percent see Kerry as the clear winner, 19 percent pick Bush as the victor and 16 percent call it a draw. After weeks of being portrayed as a verbose "flip-flopper" by Republicans, Kerry did better than a majority (56 percent) had expected. Only about 11 percent would say the same for the president's performance while more than one-third (38 percent) said the incumbent actually did worse that they had expected. Thirty-nine percent of Republicans felt their man out-debated the challenger but a full third (33 percent) say they felt Kerry won.
Kerry's numbers have improved across the board, while Bush's vulnerabilities have become more pronounced. The senator is seen as more intelligent and well-informed (80 percent, up six points over last month, compared to Bush's steady 59 percent); as having strong leadership skills (56 percent, also up 6 points, but still less than Bush's 62 percent) and as someone who can be trusted to make the right calls in an international crisis (51 percent, up five points and tied with Bush).
Meanwhile, Bush's approval ratings have dropped to below the halfway mark (46 percent) for the first time since the GOP convention in late August. Nearly half of all voters (48 percent) say they do not want to see Bush re-elected, while 46 percent say they do. Still, a majority of voters (55 percent versus 29 percent) believe the president will be re-hired on Nov. 2.