The CNN/Gallup poll shows that a majority think Kerry won the debate. Why is that bad new for Kerry?
Before the debate, 52 percent of those interviewed said they planned to vote for Bush, 44 percent for Kerry and 2 percent for Ralph Nader.
By contrast, the last CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, taken September 24-26, had 53 percent of all registered voters choosing Bush, 42 percent preferring Kerry and 3 percent favoring Nader.
Overall, 53 percent of Thursday’s debate watchers interviewed said Kerry did the better job, compared with 37 percent who favored Bush.
Kerry’s chief strength: 60 percent said he expressed himself more clearly than Bush did.
But 54 percent said Bush would be tougher as president, compared with 37 percent listed Kerry as tougher. And by a 48 percent to 41 percent margin, debate watchers said Bush was more likable.
Of those polled, 50 percent said Bush was more believable and 45 percent said they were more likely to believe Kerry.
More than six in 10 said that both candidates’ criticisms of their opponents were fair.
On Iraq, 54 percent of debate watchers polled before Thursday’s night’s matchup said Bush would handle Iraq better than Kerry.
That’s bad news. Further, the undecideds titled Bush after the debate. One last key piece, after the first debate in 2000, most people thought Gore did better. Within days, a majority thought Gore lost the debate.