President Bush (search) and Sen. John Kerry (search) would finish in a dead heat if the presidential election were held today, according to the latest FOX News poll.

While the race for the presidency is in a 44 percent to 44 percent tie, more see Bush as the candidate they trust to make decisions about taking the country to war. But presumptive Democratic nominee Kerry has the edge on managing the economy.

The poll results illustrate the strength of each candidate on what are arguably the top two issues of this election.

In addition, about one in five describe their feelings about the Bush administration as “angry” — the same number that say they felt angry about the Clinton administration.

The latest FOX New poll shows the Bush-Kerry race is dead even today, with Bush receiving some of his strongest support from conservatives, whites, higher income groups, and those living in the South, while Kerry is being backed strongest among minorities, young people, lower income groups and those living in the Northeast. Fully 75 percent of Bush voters say they support him “strongly” compared to 55 percent of Kerry voters.

Kerry essentially locked up his party’s nomination earlier this week after winning nine of 10 Democratic contests on Super Tuesday.

Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national poll of registered voters for FOX News on March 3-4.

For more on the campaign, click to view Foxnews.com's You Decide 2004 page.

By a nine-percentage point margin, more Americans would trust Bush over Kerry to make the right decision about taking the country to war, and by four points Bush is chosen as the candidate who would do more to improve the country’s moral climate. On managing the country’s economy, voters consider Kerry the candidate who would do a better job by a seven-point margin.

The president’s job approval rating holds steady this week at 48 percent with 44 percent disapproving. Bush’s approval rating hit 48 percent — the lowest job performance rating of his presidency — for the first time last month.

"It has become something of a tired cliché to point out the evenly divided nation that we have today," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "However, unless something significant happens between now and November, we're likely to hear it many more times between then and now. Like it or not, on measure after measure, the country is divided just about evenly."

Majorities say the country is safer today than before 9/11 (58 percent) and agree with Bush’s view that taking military action abroad is necessary to keep from fighting terrorists on U.S. soil (57 percent).

Most rate the quality of life for Americans as either excellent (30 percent) or good (45 percent), and almost two-thirds (62 percent) rate their current personal financial situation positively. In addition, those rating their financial situation as “excellent” doubled in the last three months. Compared with five years ago, a plurality (42 percent) says their financial situation is better today, a quarter say worse and about a third say their financial situation is the same today as it was five years ago.

In addition, a majority today feels optimistic about the nation’s economy and over a third feels pessimistic — the same as six months ago. The poll finds that economy-related issues continue to be the most common conversation topic with friends and neighbors right now, with the next closest being Iraq/terrorism.

Over half of Americans have positive feelings about the Bush administration, including 15 percent who are “enthusiastic” and 38 percent “satisfied, but not enthusiastic,” while about a quarter say they feel “dissatisfied, but not angry” and 18 percent are “angry.” There is a substantial partisan gap on feelings about the current administration with as many Republicans saying they feel enthusiastic (34 percent) as Democrats saying they feel angry (35 percent).

The overall findings are similar when voters are asked to think back to their feelings about the Clinton administration. Just over half report positive feelings, either “enthusiastic” (12 percent) or “satisfied” (41 percent), 25 percent “dissatisfied” and 20 percent “angry.”

The number of Republicans angry about the Clinton administration (39 percent) is nearly the same as the number of Democrats angry about the Bush administration today (35 percent).

Much of public (66 percent) sees Bush’s positions on the issues as conservative (36 percent “very” conservative). Conversely, a 54 percent majority thinks Kerry’s positions are liberal (25 percent “very” liberal). As many voters are still in the process of learning about the Massachusetts senator, it is not surprising that about twice as many are unable to rate Kerry’s positions on the issues.

The poll finds nearly half of voters (47 percent) describe themselves as conservative (16 percent “very” conservative) and just over a third (35 percent) as liberal (six percent “very” liberal).

When asked to consider different hypothetical tickets, an equal number of voters would support the Democratic ticket of Kerry and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (search) as the Republican ticket of Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney (search) (45 percent - 45 percent). More voters would pick the Bush-Cheney ticket over the Democratic ticket of Kerry and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton (search) (47 percent to 42 percent).

Just over half of Americans have a favorable view of Bush (52 percent) and nearly half have a favorable opinion of Kerry (47 percent favorable), however three times as many are unable to form an opinion of the all-but-certain Democratic nominee (25 percent cannot rate Kerry). Bush’s current 52 percent favorable rating is the lowest level of his presidency, although it has been hovering in the mid to low fifties since September.

Both major party candidates are much better liked than independent candidate Ralph Nader (search) who, after announcing his candidacy last month, received backing from four percent of voters in the Feb 24-25 FOX News poll (43 percent Bush, 42 percent Kerry, four percent Nader).

Less than a third of Americans view Nader favorably and four in 10 view him unfavorably. The favorable views of Nader are about the same as those of Martha Stewart (search) (34 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable), but he ranks much higher in the public’s eye than radio “shock jock” Howard Stern (search), of whom fully 70 percent of the public has an unfavorable opinion.

Polling was conducted by telephone March 3-4, 2004 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points. Results are of registered voters, unless otherwise noted. LV = likely voters

1. In your everyday conversations with friends and neighbors, what topic would you say comes up most often these days?

  3-4 Mar 04 22-22 Jan 04 3-4 Dec 03 23-24 Sep 03
Economy/Jobs/Employment 28% 27% 28% 24%
Politics/Political issues 10 12 6 10
Iraq/Saddam Hussein 9 13 18 14
Family issues 7 7 6 7
Health Care 4 5 3 1
Local issues 4 3 3 4
9/11 /Terrorism/War on Terror 3 7 6 9
Education/Schools 3 4 2 3
Weather 3 2 3 5
Religion/Bible 3 2 2 2
Sports 2 5 4 4
Current events/World news 2 2 2 2
Taxes 2 2 1 2
Recreation 2 - 2 -
TV/Entertainment 1 1 1 1
Elderly/Social Security 1 1 1 1
Middle East 1 1 - 1
Drugs/Crime - - 1 1
Stock market/Finances/Money - 1 - -

2. – 6. I'm going to read the names of some people. Please tell me whether you have a generally favorable or unfavorable opinion of each. If you've never heard of one, please just say so.
SCALE: 1. Favorable 2. Unfavorable 3. Can't say 4. Never heard of

SUMMARY

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
Bush 52% 40 8 -
Kerry 47% 28 20 5
Nader 30% 40 22 8
Stern 14% 70 12 4
Stewart 34% 41 24 1

George W. Bush

Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
3-4 Mar 04 52% 40 8 -
4-5 Feb 04 56% 37 7 -
21-22 Jan 04 54% 39 7 -
18-19 Nov 03 55% 39 6 -
28-29 Oct 03 56% 35 9 -

John Kerry

Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
3-4 Mar 04 47% 28 20 5
21-22 Jan 04 43% 24 23 10
28-29 Oct 03 27% 26 22 25
12-13 Aug 03 22% 21 23 34
3-4 Jun 03 28% 19 19 34
14-15 Jan 03 25% 16 20 39

Howard Stern

Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
3-4 Mar 04 14% 70 12 4

Martha Stewart

Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
3-4 Mar 04 34% 41 24 1
21-22 Jan 04 33% 42 22 3
17-18 Jun 03 30% 45 23 2

Ralph Nader

Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
3-4 Mar 04 30% 40 22 8
14 July 00 43% 22 23 12

7. If the election for president of the United States were held today, for whom would you vote if the candidates were:
1. Republican George W. Bush 2. Democrat John Kerry 3. (Not sure/Other) 4. (Would not vote)

  Bush Kerry (NS/Other) (Would not vote)
3-4 Mar 04 44% 44 11 1
18-19 Feb 04 45% 45 9 1
4-5 Feb 04 47% 43 9 1
21-22 Jan 04 49% 42 8 1
7-8 Jan 04 54% 32 12 2
29-30 Jul 03 54% 35 8 3
6-7 May 03 58% 29 11 2
17-18 Dec 02 57% 29 12 2

8. Do you support (insert candidate choice) strongly or only somewhat?
SCALE: 1. Strongly support 2. Only somewhat support 3. (Not sure)

  Bush voters Kerry voters
  Strngly Smwht (NS) Strngly Smwht (NS)
3-4 Mar 04 75% 23 2 55 42 3

9. Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president?

  Approve Disapprove (DK)
3-4 Mar 04 48% 44 8
18-19 Feb 04 48% 41 11
4-5 Feb 04 53% 41 6
21-22 Jan 04 53% 39 8
7-8 Jan 04 58% 31 11
3-4 Dec 03 52% 34 14

10. In the 2004 presidential election, let's say the Republican ticket is President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney versus a Democratic ticket of Massachusetts Senator John Kerry for president and North Carolina Senator John Edwards for vice president. If the election were held today, which ticket would you support?

1. Republican ticket, Bush-Cheney 45%
2. Democratic ticket, Kerry-Edwards 45
3. (Neither) 2
4. (Not sure) 8

11. What if the Democratic ticket is Senator John Kerry for president and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for vice president versus a Republican ticket of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney? If the election were held today, which ticket would you support?

1. Republican ticket, Bush-Cheney 46%
2. Democratic ticket, Kerry-Richardson 41
3. (Neither) 3
4. (Not sure) 10

12. What if the Democratic ticket is Senator John Kerry for president and New York Senator Hillary Clinton for vice president versus a Republican ticket of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney? If the election were held today, which ticket would you support?

1. Republican ticket, Bush-Cheney 47%
2. Democratic ticket, Kerry-Clinton 42
3. (Neither) 4
4. (Not sure) 7

13. Which candidate would you trust to make the right decision about taking the country to war — George W. Bush or John Kerry?

    Bush Kerry (NS/Other)
3-4 Mar 04   47% 38 15
  Dem 15% 70 15
  Rep 85% 6 9
  Ind 42% 32 26

14. Which candidate do you think would do more to improve the moral climate of the country — George W. Bush or John Kerry?

    Bush Kerry (NS/Other)
3-4 Mar 04   44% 40 16
  Dem 13% 73 14
  Rep 82% 8 10
  Ind 40% 33 27

15. Who do you think would do a better job on managing the country's economy — George W. Bush or John Kerry?

    Bush Kerry (NS/Other)
3-4 Mar 04   39% 46 15
  Dem 7% 81 12
  Rep 79% 10 11
  Ind 31% 40 29
18-19 Feb 04   40% 47 13
  Dem 7% 85 8
  Rep 81% 11 8
  Ind 34% 43 23

16. Do you think George W. Bush's positions on the issues are conservative or liberal? Is that very (conservative/liberal) or only somewhat (conservative/liberal)?

All Dem Rep Ind
1. Very conservative 36% 40% 32% 39%
2. Somewhat conservative 30 20 44 25
3. Somewhat liberal 9 10 5 10
4. Very liberal 5 9 2 4
5. (Moderate/about right) 9 7 11 9
6. (Not sure) 11 14 6 13

17. Do you think John Kerry’s positions on the issues are conservative or liberal? Is that very (conservative/liberal) or only somewhat (conservative/liberal)?

All Dem Rep Ind
1. Very conservative 5% 7% 2% 3%
2. Somewhat conservative 11 15 7 10
3. Somewhat liberal 29 36 26 27
4. Very liberal 25 10 43 21
5. (Moderate/about right) 9 14 2 11
6. (Not sure) 21 18 20 28

18. Do you feel that hearing a politician is either liberal or conservative is really helpful in understanding his or her positions on issues?

All Dem Rep Ind
1. Yes, helpful 45% 42% 50% 39%
2. No, not helpful 38 39 34 47
3. (Depends) 9 9 9 9
4. (Not sure) 8 10 7 5

19. Overall, which comes closest to your feelings about the Bush administration? Would you say that you feel: (IF NONE/NOT SURE) Which would you say is closest to how you feel?

All Dem Rep Ind
1. Enthusiastic, 15% 2% 34% 7%
2. Satisfied, but not enthusiastic, 38 16 56 46
3. Dissatisfied, but not angry or 28 46 9 27
4. Angry? 18 35 1 18
5. (None) - - - -
6. (Not sure) 1 1 - 2

20. Thinking back, overall which comes closest to your feelings about the Clinton administration? Would you say that you felt: (IF NONE/NOT SURE) Which would you say is closest to how you felt?

All Dem Rep Ind
1. Enthusiastic, 12% 24% 1% 8%
2. Satisfied, but not enthusiastic, 41 62 19 41
3. Dissatisfied, but not angry or 25 9 39 31
4. Angry? 20 3 39 16
5. (None) 1 1 1 1
6. (Not sure) 1 1 1 3

21. Which of the following best describes how you feel about Ralph Nader entering the 2004 presidential race?

All Dem Rep Ind
1. It's a good thing 15% 8% 21% 19%
2. It's a bad thing 35 52 18 33
3. It doesn't make a difference 40 32 53 36
4. (Not sure) 10 8 8 12

22. In 2000, do you think Ralph Nader cost Democrat Al Gore the presidential election, or not?

All Dem Rep Ind
1. Yes, cost Al Gore the election 37% 49% 25% 36%
2. No, did not cost Al Gore the election 47 37 57 49
3. (Not sure) 16 14 18 15

23. Do you agree or disagree with the view that the military action being taken abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan is necessary to protect Americans from having to fight terrorists on U.S. soil?

  Agree Disagree (NS)
3-4 Mar 04 57% 34 9
9-10 Sep 03 61% 30 9

24. Do you think the United States is safer or less safe today than before 9/11?

1. Safer 58%
2. Less safe 23
3. (Same/no difference) 15
4. (Not sure) 4

25. Do you think the United States would be safer or less safe if Usama bin Laden were captured or killed?

1. Safer 63%
2. Less safe 7
3. (Same/no difference) 26
4. (Not sure) 4

26. As you may know, the United States recently sent peacekeeping troops to Haiti. Do you think it was necessary for the United States to send peacekeeping troops to Haiti or not?

1. Yes, necessary 52%
2. No, not necessary 28
3. (Depends) 5
4. (Not sure) 15

27. Who do you think is most responsible for the current problems and unrest in Haiti?

1. The Clinton administration 7%
2. The Bush administration 7
3. The United States Congress 3
4. The Haitian people 42
5. (Combination) 19
6. (Not sure) 22

28. All things being equal, would you prefer to live in the United States or would you prefer to live in some other country?

1. United States 93%
2. Another country 5
3. (Not sure) 2

29. How would you rate the quality of life for Americans today? Would you say the quality of life for Americans is excellent, good, only fair, or poor?
SCALE: 1. Excellent 2. Good 3. Only fair 4. Poor 5. (Not sure)

  Exclnt Good Fair Poor (NS)
3-4 Mar 04 30% 45 19 4 2

30. And how would you rate the quality of your family’s life today? Would you say the quality of your family’s life is excellent, good, only fair, or poor?

  Exclnt Good Fair Poor (NS)
3-4 Mar 04 33% 48 16 3 -

31. How would you rate your personal financial situation – excellent, good, only fair or poor?

  Exclnt Good Fair Poor (NS)
3-4 Mar 04 14% 48 27 10 1
18-19 Nov 03 7% 40 37 13 3
23-24 Sep 03 5% 39 38 16 2
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 9% 48 29 12 2
8-9 Apr 03 9% 46 33 10 2

32. How would you rate your personal financial situation today compared to five years ago. Would you say your personal financial situation is better, worse or the same today as it was five years ago?

  Better Worse Same (NS)
3-4 Mar 04 42% 25 31 2
3-4 Jun 03 38% 29 31 2

33. Would you say you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the U.S. economy right now? (If optimistic/pessimistic, is that strongly or only somewhat?)

  Optimistic Pessimistic  
  TOT Strngly Smwht TOT Smwht Strngly (Neither/DK)
3-4 Mar 04 57% 25 32 36 22 14 7
9-10 Sep 03 56% 24 32 37 17 20 7
29-30 Jul 03 60% 22 38 33 20 13 7
6-7 May 03 58% 25 33 35 17 18 7
25-26 Mar 03 55% 21 34 36 20 16 9
11-12 Feb 03 40% 15 25 52 27 25 8
3-4 Dec 02 51% 20 31 41 28 13 8
26-27 Feb 02 66% 31 35 28 18 10 6
12-13 Dec 01 71% 33 38 24 16 8 5
3-4 Oct 01 71% 34 37 23 16 7 6
25-26 Jul 01 55% 22 33 37 22 15 8

34. Many Republicans say an economic recovery is underway, while many Democrats say the country’s economy is still not recovering. Who do you believe — the Republicans or the Democrats?

All Dem Rep Ind
1. Republicans 40% 9% 77% 34%
2. Democrats 43 77 11 34
3. (Both) 4 2 2 9
4. (Neither) 8 6 7 15
5. (Not sure) 5 6 3 8

35. Would you approve or disapprove of changing the definition of the word marriage to also include same-sex couples?

1. Approve 25%
2. Disapprove 66
3. (Not sure) 9

36. Do you believe gays and lesbians should be:
1. Allowed to get legally married, 2. Allowed a legal partnership similar to but not called marriage, or 3. Should there be no legal recognition given to gay and lesbian relationships? 4. (Not sure)

  Legally married Legal partnership No legal recognition (NS)
3-4 Mar 04 20% 33 40 7
12-13 Jan 00* 19% 24 47 10

* Wording: “... legal domestic partnership...”

37. Would you favor or oppose amending the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman? (If favor/oppose:) Is that strongly or just somewhat (favor/oppose)?

  Favor Oppose    
  TOT Strngly Smwht TOT Smwht Strngly (Depends) (NS)
3-4 Mar 04 52% 41 11 40 8 32 3 5

For reference: Would you favor or oppose passing a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman?

Favor Oppose (Not sure)
12-13 Aug 03 58% 34 8  

38. Do you agree or disagree that there is too much sexual and violent content on television and radio these days?

1. Agree 88%
2. Disagree 9
3. (Not sure) 3

39. (IF AGREE, n=797) Do you think the entertainment industry will respond to public concern that there is too much sexual and violent content on television and radio, or do you think the government will need to take a larger role?

1. Entertainment industry will respond 26%
2. Government will need to take a larger role 52
3. (Neither) 13
4. (Both) 3
5. (Not sure) 6

40. When you watch television, how often would you say you are offended by the sexual content?

1. Every time I watch 9%
2. Most of the time 19
3. Just sometimes 33
4. Hardly ever 23
5. (Never) 10
6. (Don’t watch television)—skip to Q42 5
7. (Not sure) 1

41. When you watch television, how often would you say you are offended by the violent content?

1. Every time I watch 10%
2. Most of the time 22
3. Just sometimes 36
4. Hardly ever 19
5. (Never) 11
6. (Not sure) 2