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Poll: Kerry Favorability Rating Takes a Dip

Democrat John Kerry's (search) image has taken a beating with the public in the last month after more than $60 million worth of advertising by President Bush's re-election campaign and a steady barrage of Republican criticism.

A poll released Tuesday found that Americans were slightly more likely to say they hold a favorable view of Kerry, 38 percent, than an unfavorable view, 33 percent. In mid-March, 40 percent had a favorable view and 24 percent had an unfavorable view of Kerry, according to the University of Pennsylvania's National Annenberg Election Survey (search).

In 18 battleground states, people were almost evenly split on Kerry, with 36 percent viewing him unfavorably and 35 percent viewing him favorably — down from 41 percent favorable and 28 percent unfavorable in mid-March.

The likely Democratic presidential nominee launched a $25 million ad campaign Monday in swing states to focus on his personal life — from Yale to Vietnam to the U.S. Senate.

An encouraging note for Kerry in the poll: People who are undecided or could change their position have not changed their overall views on the Democrat.

Among those swing voters nationwide, 38 percent have a favorable view of Kerry and 18 percent an unfavorable opinion. In mid-March, 37 percent had a favorable view and 15 percent had an unfavorable view. Kerry lost popularity with conservatives, Republicans, Hispanics and independents.

Bush's popularity overall was unchanged, with 51 percent saying they had a favorable view and 37 percent an unfavorable view. Among persuadable voters, Bush dipped to 47 percent favorable from 58 percent favorable in mid-March, and the number who view him negatively climbed from 23 percent to 34 percent.

In the last month, people were significantly more likely to say Kerry changes his mind for political reasons, and to a lesser extent that he "says one thing, and does another." That has been a central theme of the Bush ad campaign.

The polling of 2,759 adults taken from April 15 through May 2 has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

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Kerry and Bush are locked in a close contest in New Hampshire, according to a poll released Tuesday in the swing state.

Kerry was at 49 percent and Bush at 45 percent with the remainder supporting another candidate or undecided, according to the University of New Hampshire's Granite State Poll.

Just after Kerry won the New Hampshire primary, the Democrat was at 53 percent and Bush at 39 percent in February.

Bush does well among Republicans and Kerry does well among Democrats, but Kerry is leading among independents by almost a 2-1 margin. Registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats in New Hampshire by 11 percentage points.

The poll of 484 likely voters was taken April 19-26 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.