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Instant Reaction: Gore Edges Bush in Debate

Instant Reaction: Gore Edges Bush in Debate

Ratings mirror voters' presidential preferences

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted immediately after the first debate between Vice President Al Gore and Governor George W. Bush Tuesday evening, shows that among registered voters who watched the two candidates exchange views on a variety of issues, 48% thought Gore did the better job, while 41% said Bush did. Additionally, when asked to rate each candidate individually on how well he performed in the debate, 76% said Gore did an excellent or good job, while 24% said fair or poor. Bush fared only slightly worse, with 70% rating his performance as excellent or good, and 27% as poor.

The sample of voters includes respondents who had participated in Gallup polls conducted over the past five days and had indicated they intended to watch the debate. Prior to the event, they supported Gore over Bush in the presidential race by 49% to 46%, a margin that is reflective of Gallup's polls among likely voters over the past several days. Gore's margin of victory in the debate is slightly larger than his lead over Bush in the presidential contest, as Bush's supporters cited Bush the winner by a margin of 79% to 11%, while Gore's supporters cited their own candidate by the slightly greater margin of 81% to 7%.

Voters were asked two additional questions about the effect of the debate -- whether they felt more or less favorably toward each candidate because of the debate, and whether they felt more or less confident that each candidate could handle the job of being president. Responses to both questions again mirrored the voters' presidential preferences, with most of the differences between the ratings related to partisan differences. Still, voters say they have become more favorable toward Bush by 34% to 14%, while voters have become more favorable toward Gore by a smaller margin of 27% to 18%. That difference is mostly due to Bush's supporters expressing more positive feelings for their candidate and more negative feelings for their opponent than did Gore's supporters.

Despite these changes in opinion and Gore's slight advantage in voters' ratings of his debate performance, the instant effect of the debate appears negligible. Just three percent of all voters say they have changed their votes from one presidential candidate to the other -- 4% among Gore voters and 3% among Bush's voters.

While 70% and 76% of voters who watched the debate rate Gore and Bush respectively as doing an excellent or good job in the debate, most of these voters say "good" rather than "excellent." In fact, just 20% of voters say Bush did an excellent job and 25% say Gore did -- suggesting that neither candidate overwhelmed voters with his performance.

The Tuesday evening poll results are based on voters' immediate reactions to the debate, before they have had an opportunity to discuss the debate with friends and colleagues, and to be exposed to much media coverage about the event. It is quite possible that over the next several days, voters' opinions could change and indicate a more substantial impact of the debate on the election campaign.

Survey Methods
All results are based on telephone interviews with 435 registered voters, aged 18+, who watched the debate, conducted October 3, 2000, between 10:35 and 10:55 PM, Eastern Daylight Time. Respondents were first interviewed September 28-October 2, 2000, when they indicated there was some chance they would watch tonight's 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.

First, how much of tonight's presidential debate did you happen to watch -- all or most, about half, only some, hardly any of it, or none?

 

 

All or most

About half

Only some

       
 

%

%

%

Gore/Bush 2000

     

2000 Oct 1-3

81

10

9

       

Clinton/Dole 1996

     

1996 Oct 16

79

13

8

1996 Oct 6

86

8

6

       

Clinton/Bush 1992

     

1992 Oct 19

89

7

4

1992 Oct 11

85

11

4



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 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 3

25%

51

20

4

*



B. George W. Bush

 

 

Excellent

Good

Only fair

Poor

No opinion

           

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 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 3

34%

14

52

*

         

Former President George Bush

       

1992 Oct 19

29%

25

46

0

1992 Oct 11

13%

24

62

1



As a result of tonight's debate, have you changed your vote from one presidential candidate to another?

 

Yes

No

No opinion

       
 

%

%

%

Gore/Bush 2000

     

2000 Oct 3

3

96

1

       

Clinton/Dole 1996

     

1996 Oct 16

2

97

1

1996 Oct 6

2

97

1

       

Clinton/Bush/Perot 1992

     

1992 Oct 19

12

86

2



Based on your impressions of [ROTATED: Al Gore/George W. Bush] from the debate, are you more confident that he can handle the job of being president, less confident, or has your confidence in [Gore/Bush] not changed much?

A. Al Gore

 



More confident



Less confident



No
change

Never
had any confidence (VOL.)



No
opinion

           

2000 Oct 3

33%

15

50

1

1



B. George W. Bush

 



More confident



Less confident



No
change

Never
had any confidence (VOL.)



No
opinion

           

2000 Oct 3

40%

20

38

1

1



*Less than 0.5%

Gallup

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