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Poll: Voters Satisfied With Presidential Choices

By Claudia Deane and Richard Morin, The Washington Post,
Friday 3 November 2000

Voters say they are not nearly as dissatisfied, or nearly as simpleminded, as this year's election coverage might suggest, according to new data from The Washington Post tracking poll.

Despite a steady drumbeat of complaints about candidates being dumb, dull or both, the majority of American voters say either Texas Gov. George W. Bush or Vice President Gore would make a good president.

Voters also overwhelmingly reject the characterization that they are basing their decisions on whether they "like the candidate on a personal level." Only 26 percent of all voters, and 31 percent of Bush voters, say likability is "very important" to their vote choice.

Instead, two in three voters say it's the "strength of the candidate's personal character" that is key to their vote, a judgment that slightly outweighs even whether the candidate agrees with them on the issues. Character is a significantly more important factor to Republicans than Democrats this year.

In today's tracking poll - representing a three-night average of data collected among 1,350 voters Oct. 31-Nov. 2 - Bush, the Republican, maintains his slim lead over Democratic nominee Gore. Bush has held that lead for much of the past month. He currently garners 48 percent of the vote to Gore's 45 percent, with Ralph Nader attracting 3 percent nationally and Pat Buchanan 1 percent.

These data were collected before news broke of Bush's 1976 arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Both major party candidates attract strong support from their own base, but Bush leads among independents 49 percent to 40 percent. Gore is disadvantaged here by the fact that one in 10 independents who normally lean Democratic say they will vote for Nader, the Green Party candidate, and another 16 percent are considering a vote for Bush.

Bush's huge advantage among white men continues to be a signal characteristic of this race. White men support him over Gore 61 percent to 34 percent.

Meanwhile, white women have teetered back and forth between the two candidates. Currently, the candidates are tied in this group, 47 percent each. They are also running roughly even among independent women.

copyright 2000 The Washington Post

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