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Inside Politics

Poll: Bush apparently gets modest bounce

• Kerry, Bush on holiday stump
• The Candidates: Bush | Kerry
John F. Kerry
George W. Bush

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Last week's GOP convention in New York City appears to have given President Bush a modest bounce and a small lead among likely voters, according to a poll released Monday.

The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,018 adult Americans, including 778 likely voters and 926 registered voters, was conducted by telephone September 3-5.

Bush's convention bounce appeared to be 2 percentage points.

The percentage of likely voters who said he was their choice for president rose from 50 right before the convention to 52 immediately afterward.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic nominee, was the choice of 45 percent of the likely voters interviewed in the most recent poll. He had 47 percent in the poll taken August 23-25.

Among registered voters in the most recent poll, Bush and Kerry were about even -- 49 percent to 48 percent respectively -- with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Incumbents have gotten an average bounce of slightly more than 6 points in previous elections, so Bush's apparent bounce seems small by historical standards.

Kerry got no bounce coming out of the Democratic convention, making Bush's movement appear robust.

Still, the 2 percentage point bounce could be illusory, since the poll's margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The apparent slight boost in support for Bush is not the only effect of the Republican convention.

The number of Americans who believe the war in Iraq was a mistake dropped 10 points since the last full week of August -- from 48 percent to 38 percent. The margin of error among all those interviewed for that question was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

For the first time this year, self-reported enthusiasm among Republicans about voting exceeded that of Democrats, implying that the convention mobilized the GOP base.

The number of Americans who said they believe Kerry can handle the responsibilities of commander in chief dropped 8 points -- from 62 percent last month to 55 percent in this latest poll. Here, the margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points among all those interviewed.

And the percentage of all those polled who said they think Kerry has the personal qualities necessary in a president dropped 7 points from 58 last month to 51 -- with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Bush's ratings on personal quality rose during the same period -- from 55 percent to 59 percent.

A bare majority (51 percent) said they do not think Kerry would be a good president, versus 41 percent who said that about Bush.

Nearly half (48 percent) said Kerry is too liberal, versus just 13 percent who said that about Bush.

The inverse of that sentiment -- that Bush and Kerry are too conservative -- was shared by 40 percent and 8 percent of respondents respectively.

The number of Americans who say the GOP is attacking Kerry unfairly was up. Half said they believe the party spent too much time in New York attacking Kerry.

The number who said the convention made them less likely to vote for Bush was almost as high as those who say it made them more likely to vote for him.

Finally, there was one new wrinkle. Despite the perception among some observers that this is an election driven by issues, more of those interviewed said that the leadership qualities and personal characteristics of the two candidates were more important than their stands on the issues.

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