The Associated Press
President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are running about statistically even in Ohio, a poll released Sunday finds. In Kentucky, though, Bush holds a strong lead over the Democratic challenger, according to a statewide poll.
Ohioans who were polled favored Bush by 49 percent to Kerry's 42 percent. Seven percent said they were undecided and 2 percent said they intended to vote for Ralph Nader.
But because the poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, it means the Bush-Kerry contest may be a toss-up.
The Knight Ridder-MSNBC poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research on Tuesday and Wednesday and published Sunday in the Akron Beacon Journal. The telephone survey involved 624 registered voters who said they likely would vote Nov. 2.
Another poll, the Mason Dixon poll published Sunday by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, found Republican U.S. Sen. George Voinovich led Democratic challenger Eric Fingerhut among likely Ohio voters 58 percent to 32 percent, with 10 percent undecided.
The telephone poll of 1,500 voters was conducted Sept. 10-14 and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Fingerhut, of Cleveland, is a former congressman elected to the state Senate in 1998.
Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were the choice of 53 percent of Kentuckians surveyed in the Bluegrass Poll, compared with 38 percent for Kerry and his running mate, John Edwards. Independents Nader and Peter Camejo garnered 3 percent. Six percent were undecided.
The poll figures include those who said they were undecided but leaning toward a ticket. Taking away those leaners, Bush led Kerry 51-35 percent, and Nader remained at 3 percent.
The results were published in Sunday's Louisville Courier-Journal.
The survey, conducted by telephone from Sept. 10-15, polled 657 likely voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.
Bush's showing represents a slight improvement over his 12-point lead in the Bluegrass Poll conducted in May and only a little under his 17-point margin in February's poll.
The newest poll showed that among likely voters who favored Bush, 19 percent said the greatest factor in determining their choice was the president's stance on combating terrorism.
"I feel safe with him running the country," said Brenda Davenport, 45, a Paducah homemaker who intends to vote for the president. "Safety, I think, is his main concern for us."
By contrast, Kerry's supporters are driven by concerns about the economy and a strong anti-Bush sentiment.
"I would fire him if I could. I'd have given him his walking papers," said Brenda Perry, 51, of Louisville. Perry, a customer-service representative for an insurance company, said she is voting for Kerry.
Kentuckians continue to give the president higher job-approval ratings than the national average.
In the latest poll, Bush's job-approval rating jumped to 64 percent, up from 58 percent in the May poll. That is better than his national rating, which the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll put at 52 percent.
Bush's personal characteristics, leadership and trustworthiness were cited by 18 percent, nearly the same number as those who cited his morals, values and faith, as determining factors in supporting the president, the poll found.
" Only 12 percent of Bush's supporters said his performance in office or his policies are the main reasons they want him re-elected, and just 4 percent cited tax cuts or the economy as reasons for backing the president.
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