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Gallup poll shows tight race for presidency

Since the beginning of the year, poll numbers have wavered between Kerry, left, and Bush.
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America Votes 2004
America Votes 2004: Presidential race
George W. Bush
John F. Kerry

(CNN) -- A Gallup poll released Thursday morning shows a decline in President Bush's job approval rating and a close race for the presidency in November.

The survey of 1,000 adults was taken May 2-4, with a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

When asked how much thought the respondents have given to the upcoming election, 64 percent said "quite a lot" compared with 30 percent indicating "only a little."

The survey shows a presidential race between Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and Bush would be very close.

Registered voters are in a dead heat among the two candidates, Kerry and Bush each garnering 47 percent. Likely voters -- those who say they plan to vote in the November election -- give Kerry a slight lead: 49 percent for Kerry, 48 percent for Bush.

Since the beginning of the year, the numbers have wavered among likely voters between the two leading candidates: Bush had a 12-point lead over Kerry in mid-January; Kerry turned the tables in February by posting his own 12-point lead; and since late March, Bush has held a slight lead until the most recent poll.

When likely voters consider consumer advocate Ralph Nader as an independent presidential candidate in addition to Kerry and Bush, the numbers between the Democrat and Republican are tied at 47 percent each, with Nader garnering three percent of the vote.

Twice the number of registered voters said they would be more likely to vote for Nader -- six percent -- giving Bush a one-point lead over Kerry: 45 percent for Bush, 44 percent for Kerry. The respondents are also split on Bush's job approval rating -- 49 percent approve of Bush's overall handling of the job, 48 percent disapprove, with three percent offering "no opinion."

That matches Bush's lowest job approval rating since taking office in 2001, tied with the polls taken in early March and early February of this year.

The May poll numbers are down from two weeks ago, when 52 percent approved of Bush's handling of the job, 45 percent disapproved, and the "no opinion" number again at three percent.

The poll shows the number of Americans dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States has increased to 62 percent, compared to 36 percent who say they are satisfied. That number has been steadily increasing since January, when 55 percent said they were satisfied compared to 43 percent dissatisfied.

The poll also asks respondents to indicate whether they approve or disapprove with how Bush is handling specific areas.

On the economy, 56 percent say they disapprove, compared to 41 percent approval. The disapproval rate has been consistently about 50 percent since January, when it measured 43 percent, compared to a 54 percent approval rating.

A majority -- 53 percent -- also disapprove of Bush's handling of foreign affairs, compared with 42 percent responding they approve. That number has also reversed since January when 58 percent said they approved and 39 percent said they disapproved.

The numbers show the same trend when respondents are asked about Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq. The latest poll shows 55 percent disapprove, 42 percent approve. In January, 61 percent said they approved, with 36 percent disapproval.

Bush's handling of terrorism is overall favorable, according to the poll. Of the respondents, 52 percent say the approve of his handling of terrorism while 45 percent said they disapprove. That number has slipped from the last poll in mid-April: 60 percent said they approve, while 39 percent disapproved.

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