This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Sept. 23, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: A brand new Fox News opinion/Dynamics poll out today on the race. President Bush (search) continues to lead John Kerry (search), 46 to 42. But the undecideds have increased from 7 to 11 percent. So anything can happen.
Mr. Bush leads among both men and women. And his job approval rating stands at 50 percent, considered a must for re-election.
Joining us now from Washington is Andrew Kohut, the president of the Pew Research Group (search). You know, what I'm seeing in this poll, I studied the Fox News poll. It's a scientific poll. Most people know that. Like your research center, it's very scientific. It looks like the Bush people, the voters, are more firm than the Kerry voters. And it looks to me like some of the undecideds that left came from the Kerry camp. Am I wrong?
ANDREW KOHUT, PEW RESEARCH PRESIDENT: Yes, I think that's pretty much what's happened. You know, we had a very close race through much of the year, since the end of the Democratic primaries. And they're still reservations about President Bush. But some of those people who had reservations about President Bush and were supporting Kerry in the polls now have doubts about Kerry, and they're wavering more. That's one of the reasons why Bush's support is stronger and also one of the reasons why the polls are flopping around.
The Fox poll and our poll have small leads. The Gallup poll and the CBS poll have pretty big leads. And that's a measure of volatility and the fact that public opinion is unsettled. Call people one day -- and the swing voters one day, and they're thinking Bush. And the next day, they're thinking Kerry.
O'REILLY: Right. And next week, the first presidential debate on Thursday will then make your job a little bit even more complicated because not only do people watch the debates, but they depend on pinheads like me to interpret who won. And you're going to see -- no matter what Bush and Kerry did, the Kool-aid partisans are going to say their guy won, no matter what they do. And people -- I think they're going to be more confused. You think it might be a clarifying moment, though, don't you?
KOHUT: Absolutely. With all due respect, this is a moment where the people actually tune in and watch. And they make their own decisions. And interesting, in this debate, it's 20 percentage points higher than four years ago. This is a high-stakes election.
O'REILLY: Well, whoa, whoa, what. I don't understand it. This debate is 20 percent...
KOHUT: Interest in the debate.
O'REILLY: Oh, interest in the debate is 20 percent higher?
KOHUT: 20 percentage points higher than it was four years ago at this time. This is a high-stakes campaign. A lot more people undecided and unsure than just a month ago. And the debates are going to be decisive. I think it's going to make my job easier, because opinions are going to settle down.
O'REILLY: You know, I hope so. I really -- I mean, I want people to watch me before and after the debates to get my take on it. But I don't want them to depend on me to tell them, you know, what to do. I want them to make up their own mind.
But here's my problem with that. The debate structure -- you know, it's a 50-page document. Did you know that? A 50-page document that the moderators have to sign and all the rules. It looks like the NFL playbook about what you can't do, what you can do, who's doing this, where they're going to sit, what they're wearing.
And I mean, I don't think you get a lot of spontaneity out of those debates. I think you get a lot of rehearsed stuff.
KOHUT: Well, and I think it's the spontaneity, the stuff that speaks to who these candidates really are, as opposed to what they're talking points are that are so decisive to people. You know, we can go back...
O'REILLY: But there's so few of that, so little, because they're both rehearsed.
KOHUT: Well, that's a problem. But the public has a way of ferreting out reality, especially when debate time rolls around. And the question is how spontaneous or how programmed these will be.
O'REILLY: Yes. All right, well, you're going to see Mr. Bush in an absolutely spontaneous situation with me next week. Last question -- how long after the debate ends on Thursday evening will it take for you to get the poll out?
KOHUT: Well, I think you can get a poll out real fast. Can you do it in a day? But it takes a while for people to absorb what they saw, to talk to their friends, to get a sense of...
O'REILLY: What happened.
KOHUT: What happened.
O'REILLY: OK, so...
KOHUT: So we got to wait sometime.
O'REILLY: All right, so about Monday, you think, after Thursday, we'll start to -- everybody will start to settle in?
KOHUT: I'm a conservative guy. I'm going to wait till Wednesday.
O'REILLY: Next to Wednesday after the Thursday debate. All right, Mr. Kohut, thanks very much. We appreciate it.
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