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Instant Reaction: Bush Beats Gore in Second Debate

Instant Reaction: Bush Beats Gore in Second Debate

As in first debate, candidate ratings mostly mirror voters' presidential preferences

by David W. Moore

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted immediately after the second debate between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush Wednesday evening, shows that among registered voters who watched the two candidates exchange views on a variety of issues, 49% thought Bush did the better job, while 36% said Gore did. In the first debate, the vice president received a better rating, by a 48% to 41% margin.

When viewers were asked separately to rate each candidate individually on how well he performed in the debate, 80% said Bush did an excellent or good job, while 20% said fair or poor. Gore fared only slightly worse: 72% rated his performance as excellent or good, and 28% as fair or poor. In the first debate reaction poll, Gore's favorable ratings were slightly better than Bush's -- with 76% saying Gore did an excellent or good job and 24% a fair or poor job, compared with a 70% to 30% rating for Bush.

For both debates, the performance ratings given by the viewers closely mirror the presidential preferences of the voters who were included in the survey. Among respondents in the current debate reaction poll, 52% indicated in pre-debate interviews that they were Bush supporters and 42% Gore supporters, a 10-point advantage that is slightly smaller than the 13-point margin by which Bush won the debate. In the first debate, the margins were reversed, with viewers indicating in pre-debate polling that they supported Gore by a 3-point margin, but giving him a 7-point margin of victory after the debate.

In the current poll, Bush wins partly because the viewers were initially more pro-Bush than pro-Gore, but also because Bush's supporters give their candidate a higher margin of victory (82% to 7%) than do Gore's supporters (73% to 10%). The relatively few respondents in the sample (6%) who indicated in pre-debate polling that they were undecided rated the debate performance of the candidates about equally.

As with the last post-debate poll, voters were also asked whether they felt more or less favorably toward each candidate because of the debate. Responses to this question also mostly mirror voters' presidential preferences, with respondents giving Bush the advantage over Gore. Overall, respondents say they feel more favorably toward Bush by 40% to 12% (the rest indicating no change), and more favorably toward Gore by 24% to 16% (60% saying no change).

When voters were asked whether -- because of the debate -- their support for their preferred candidate is now more certain or less certain, or is unchanged, only 4% each of Gore's and Bush's supporters say they have become less certain. However, 60% of Bush's supporters say their vote is now more certain because of the debate, compared with 46% of Gore's supporters who indicate greater certainty.

Bush Seen as More Likeable, Gore Better Able to Express Himself
Viewers were asked to rate the candidates on four personal characteristics. Bush was rated as more likeable, more believable, and more in accord with the issues that the respondents care about. Gore, on the other hand, was rated better in expressing himself. Bush's margins on two of the characteristics -- believability and issues -- mostly reflect the pro-Bush sample of viewers, but his 25-point advantage on being likeable far exceeds the 10-point margin of voter support he receives among viewers, suggesting that many Democrats as well as most Republicans view the Texas governor that way. Similarly, Gore's 8-point advantage on expressing himself more clearly shows that many Republicans, as well as most Democrats, rate the vice president highly on that item.

In recent days, the candidates' campaigns have stepped up their attacks on their opponents, with the Gore campaign questioning Bush's command of the issues and the Bush campaign questioning Gore's integrity. The poll thus asked viewers whether Bush has the intelligence and knowledge to be a good president, and whether Gore has the honesty and trustworthiness to be a good president. The results show that, overall, viewers give an affirmative response to Bush's intelligence and knowledge by 70% to 27%, while the margin in favor of Gore's honesty and trustworthiness is smaller -- with 55% saying yes and 40% saying no. The poll also shows that each candidate's group of supporters rate their own candidate positively by overwhelming margins: by 97% to 1%, Bush's supporters say he has the intelligence and knowledge to be a good president, and by 95% to 5% Gore's supporters say he is honest and trustworthy. Bush's supporters are somewhat more negative about Gore, however, than are Gore's supporters about Bush.

Several times during the debate, Gore attacked Bush's record in Texas. The poll shows that viewers seemed to react negatively to that tactic, as 41% say Gore was more unfair than Bush in criticizing his opponent, while 26% say that Bush was more unfair.

Survey Methods

All results are based on telephone interviews with 529 registered voters who watched the debate, aged 18+, conducted October 11, 2000 between 10:35 and 10:55 PM, Eastern Daylight Time. Respondents were first interviewed October 5-10, 2000, when they indicated there was some chance they would watch the second debate and were willing to be called back. For results based on the total sample of registered voters, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is +/- 5 percentage points.

Polls conducted entirely in one day, such as this one, are subject to additional error or bias not found in polls conducted over several days.

Regardless of which candidate you happen to support, who do you think did the better job in the debate -- [ROTATED: Al Gore (or) George W. Bush]?

Gore/Bush 2000

 

 

Gore

Bush

NEITHER
(vol.)

BOTH/
EQUALLY
(vol.)

No
opinion

           

2000 Oct 11

36%

49

1

13

1

           

2000 Oct 3

48%

41

2

8

1



Clinton/Dole 1996

 

 

Clinton

Dole

No opinion

     

1996 Oct 16

59%

29

12

1996 Oct 6

51%

32

17




Clinton/Bush/Perot 1992

 




Clinton



Bush



Perot

NONE IN PARTICULAR (vol.)


No
opinion

           

1992 Oct 19 ^

28%

28

37

7

*

1992 Oct 16-18 ^

58%

16

15

7

4

1992 Oct 11 ^

30%

16

47

5

2

           

^

Wording: Regardless of which candidate you happen to support, who do you think did the best job in the debate -- George Bush, Bill Clinton, or Ross Perot?




Dukakis/Bush 1988

 

 

Dukakis

Bush

NEITHER (vol.)

No opinion

         

1988 Sep 27-28

38%

29

31

2




Mondale/Reagan 1984

 

 

Mondale

Reagan

NEITHER (vol.)

No opinion

         

1984 Oct 21

40%

43

--

17

1984 Sep 28-30

54%

35

8

3



How would you rate the job [ROTATED: Al Gore/George W. Bush] did in the debate tonight -- excellent, good, only fair, or poor?

A. Al Gore

 

 

Excellent

Good

Only fair

Poor

No opinion

           

2000 Oct 11

18%

54

25

3

*

           

2000 Oct 3

25%

51

20

4

*



B. George W. Bush

 

 

Excellent

Good

Only fair

Poor

No opinion

           

2000 Oct 11

29%

51

18

2

*

           

2000 Oct 3

20%

50

27

3

*



Q.103/Q.104 ROTATED

How has your opinion of Al Gore been affected by the debate? Is your opinion of Gore -- more favorable, less favorable, or has it not changed much?

 

 

More
favorable

Less
favorable

Not changed much

No
opinion

         
 

%

%

%

%

Al Gore

       

2000 Oct 11

24

16

60

0

         

2000 Oct 3

27

18

55

*

         

Bill Clinton

       

1992 Oct 19

27

22

50

1

1992 Oct 11

29

14

57

*



How has your opinion of George W. Bush been affected by the debate? Is your opinion of Bush -- more favorable, less favorable, or has it not changed much?

 

 

More
favorable

Less
favorable

Not changed much

No
opinion

         
 

%

%

%

%

George W. Bush

       

2000 Oct 11

40

12

47

1

         

2000 Oct 3

34

14

52

*

         

Former President George Bush

       

1992 Oct 19

29

25

46

0

1992 Oct 11

13

24

62

1



When we called you this past week, you told us that you planned to vote for Al Gore. As a result of tonight's debate, are you more certain in your vote, less certain, or has your vote decision not been affected?

BASED ON 223 GORE SUPPORTERS; ± 7 PERCENTAGE POINTS

 

 

More
certain

Less
certain

Not been affected

SWITCHED TO BUSH (vol.)

No
opinion

           

2000 Oct 11

46%

4

48

2

0



When we called you this past week, you told us that you planned to vote for George W. Bush. As a result of tonight's debate, are you more certain in your vote, less certain, or has your vote decision not been affected?

BASED ON -- 276 -- BUSH SUPPORTERS; ± 6 PERCENTAGE POINTS

 

 

More
certain

Less
certain

Not been affected

SWITCHED TO GORE (vol.)

No
opinion

           

2000 Oct 11

60%

4

35

1

0



Thinking about the following characteristics and qualities, please say whether you think each one better described Al Gore or George W. Bush during tonight's debate. How about… [ROTATED]?

A. Was more likeable

 

 

Gore

Bush

BOTH/
EQUALLY (vol.)

NEITHER
(vol.)

No
opinion

           

2000 Oct 11

31%

56

10

2

1



B. Agreed with you more on the issues you care about

 

 

Gore

Bush

BOTH/
EQUALLY (vol.)

NEITHER
(vol.)

No
opinion

           

2000 Oct 11

43%

52

4

1

*




C. Expressed himself more clearly

 

 

Gore

Bush

BOTH/
EQUALLY (vol.)

NEITHER
(vol.)

No
opinion

           

2000 Oct 11

47%

39

13

*

1




D. Was more believable

 

 

Gore

Bush

BOTH/
EQUALLY (vol.)

NEITHER
(vol.)

No
opinion

           

2000 Oct 11

38%

51

9

2

*



As a result of tonight's debate, do you believe that George W. Bush has the intelligence and knowledge to be a good president, or not?

 

 

Yes, does

No, does not

No opinion

       

2000 Oct 11

70%

27

3



As a result of tonight's debate, do you believe that Al Gore has the honesty and trustworthiness to be a good president, or not?

 

 

Yes, does

No, does not

No opinion

       

2000 Oct 11

55%

40

5



Regardless of which presidential candidate you support, please tell me who you think was more unfair in criticizing his opponent -- [ROTATED: Al Gore (or) George W. Bush]?

 



Gore



Bush


BOTH
(vol.)

NO DIFFERENCE
(vol.)


No
opinion

           

2000 Oct 11

41%

26

9

17

7





* Less than 0.5%
(vol.) Volunteered response

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