Poll Finds Presidential Election Close; No Issues Dominate

July 7, 2008 - 7:25 PM

Washington (CNSNews.com) - This year's presidential election is going to be a close one because of a diverse agenda that prevents any one issue from grabbing the voters' attention, says a poll of voter attitudes released Friday by Voter.com, a bipartisan political website.

The Voter.com poll found if the election for president were held today, 47 percent of those surveyed would vote for Republican George W. Bush, 44 percent for Democrat Al Gore, and 9 percent are undecided. This poll was taken on March 12th and 13th among 1,000 registered "likely" voters with plus or minus of 3.1 percent.

Voters list several issues as important to them, including moral values, education, Social Security, Medicare and health care, says the survey.

During a Washington, D.C., news conference, Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said a key battleground for votes for both candidates are mothers.

"Twenty-eight percent of moms now say that moral values are their top concern and that's helped George W. Bush stay ahead among that key constituency of women," Lake said.

Undecided voters, according to Lake, also have moral values at the top of the agenda on the next president's list of priorities. "That's something that's good for Republicans, less good for Democrats."

Republican pollster Ed Goeas told the news conference that he was surprised that Bush is leading this early in the campaign.

"From a Republican perspective, compared to what we've heard and read about in recent weeks, the fact that George W. Bush is even or leading in this case is somewhat of a surprise. What is very obvious in the terms of the data is that the Democratic primary has been settling for over a month now in terms of the voters inside the Democratic electorate, it's very clear that two things happened. One is the intensity of Democrats went up inside the Democratic party for Al Gore and that George Bush became more of a Republican," Goeas said.

Goeas also said he decided to poll "Reagan Democrats," whom he said were largely white male southerners who have become "very, very Republican" - contrary to press reports on who the Reagan Democrats are. Goeas asked voters if they supported Reagan in 1980, and whether that was their first Republican vote.

"What we found is that 47 to 50 percent of the Reagan voters were Republicans at the time they first voted for Reagan. About 30 percent were Democrats and about 20 percent were Independents. So, we were able to focus in on that true 'Reagan Democrat,' those that voted for Reagan and were Democrat at that time they voted for him."

Goeas explained what his data on "Reagan Democrats" found was "very interesting."

"If you look at those Reagan Democrats, Bush has a favorable/unfavorable rating of 69 to 23, where Gore has a favorable rating of 50 to 45. Bush compared to McCain had over a 10 percent higher favorable rating with these Reagan Democrats and if you look at the overall ballot for the fall campaign, compared to the 48-44, George W. Bush is leading 52 to 39 with these Reagan Democrats," Goeas said.

Among Catholics, Bush has a 56 to 36 favorable/unfavorable rating while Gore has a 53 to 40 favorable/unfavorable rating. This historically Democratic constituency is split evenly on the presidential vote, 47 percent to 47 percent, according to the survey.

Among Hispanics, Bush has a favorable rating of 62 percent to 34 percent unfavorable, while Gore's rating is 44 favorable to 45 unfavorable.

The Voter.com survey also asked about voters' perception of the candidates' ideology. Forty-nine percent believed Bush to be "somewhat conservative," 22 percent said "very conservative," 13 percent said "somewhat liberal," while 10 percent were unsure.

Forty-one percent said Gore was "somewhat liberal," 23 percent responded "very liberal," 17 percent said "somewhat conservative," 6 percent said "very conservative" and 8 percent were unsure.

Voter.com then asked about attitudes toward President Bill Clinton and his job performance.

Of those surveyed, 61 percent disapproved of Clinton as a person, 30 percent approved while 9 percent were unsure.

Forty-four percent of respondents believes the country is going in the right direction, 43 percent think the country is on the wrong track, while 13 percent were unsure.

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said, "Since January, voters optimism has waned. The nervousness of the national mood may have repercussions for Al Gore and Democrats in Congress. Volatility in the stock market, another spate of school shootings, and rising gas prices may have contributed to this increasing wariness about the direction of the country."