WASHINGTON – President Bush and likely Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry (search) match up closely on many measures in a poll released Monday, yet remain far apart in one key area — familiarity with the voters
The CBS News-New York Times poll underscored the difference in familiarity with the incumbent Republican, who is well known, and the Massachusetts senator, who is just beginning to establish a national identity.
For example, voters were closely divided on whether they had a favorable or unfavorable views of each candidate.
In the case of Bush, 43 percent had a favorable view, 39 percent had an unfavorable view and 17 percent were undecided. For Kerry, 28 percent had a favorable view, 29 percent had an unfavorable view and 41 percent were undecided.
Both campaigns are spending millions on campaign ads to define Kerry, a four-term senator, for those undecided voters.
The poll found Bush with a slight lead overall, 46 percent to 43 percent — roughly the same difference as the poll's margin of error. Two weeks ago in this poll, Kerry was at 47 percent and Bush was at 46 percent.
When independent Ralph Nader (search) is added to the mix, Bush has a clear lead over Kerry, 46 percent to 38 percent, with Nader at 7 percent, according to the survey released Monday.
The poll found potential vulnerabilities for both candidates.
Voters have questions about whether Kerry says what he believes — one-third said yes, but almost six in 10 said no.
When it comes to making economic decisions, almost six in 10 said they are uneasy about Bush's ability to make economic decisions, while four in 10 said they were confident.
When asked about each candidate's ability to deal wisely with an international crisis — almost half, 46 percent, said they were uneasy about Bush, and about Kerry, 48 percent.
But 53 percent said they were confident in Bush's ability to deal with an international crisis, while only 33 percent said that about Kerry. Another 19 percent said they don't know about Kerry's ability in that area.
The poll of 1,286 adults, including 984 registered voters, was taken March 10-14 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.