A report released today by the Gallup News Service shows that marital status had a significant effect on how Americans cast their ballots in the 2004 presidential election.
An analysis of Gallup's final pre-election poll shows that George W. Bush's victory over John Kerry was led by strong support among groups that tend to be politically conservative -- men, whites, Southerners, married voters, churchgoers, Protestants, gun owners, and veterans, as well as his natural Republican supporters. Bush did well in states he won in 2000, and his advantage in those states was larger than the advantage Kerry had in states that Al Gore won in 2000. Generally speaking, Bush's support by subgroup rose slightly in nearly all groups, but this was probably because there were no significant third-party candidates attracting support this year as Ralph Nader did in 2000. But Bush improved on his 2000 performance among conservatives, urban residents, and regular churchgoers beyond what can be attributed to the lack of a significant third-party candidate, while he did less well among younger voters.
The analysis is based on Gallup's final pre-election poll of Oct. 29-31, which showed Bush at 49% and Kerry at 47% among likely voters. Those overall figures and the figures for the subgroups are adjusted to the final two-party candidate vote totals of 51.5% for Bush and 48.5% for Kerry.
Vote by Political Subgroup
Naturally, Bush's strongest groups were Republicans (+90 percentage points over Kerry) and conservatives (+60). Kerry, likewise, had large advantages among Democrats (+86 over Bush) and liberals (+76). Both candidates held the support of the majority of their partisans, with 95% of Republicans voting for Bush and 93% of Democrats voting for Kerry. Independents were slightly more likely to support Kerry (52%) than Bush (48%).
Bush had a 16-percentage point advantage among voters in states he won in 2000 (representing half of all voters), while Kerry had a slightly smaller advantage of 10 points among voters in states Gore won in 2000. Kerry did slightly better than Bush among voters in the so-called showdown states, those in which Gore or Bush won by fewer than six points in 2000.
Vote by Demographic Subgroup
Looking at demographic differences, Bush fared well among gun owners (+30 over Kerry), weekly churchgoers (+26), Protestants (+24), military veterans (+20), married people (+20), non-Hispanic whites (+14), Southerners (+14), and men (+12).
On the other hand, Kerry appealed most to blacks (+86), those residing in union households (+34), unmarried women (+28, and +10 among unmarried men), 18- to 29-year-olds (+20), those who seldom or never attend church (+20), Easterners (+16), and urban residents (+12).
Kerry had a small advantage among women, 52% to 48%, the smallest advantage for a Democratic candidate since 1992. Clinton had an 8-point advantage among women in 1992, 15 points in 1996, and Gore had an 8-point advantage in 2000. The total gender gap, however, was similar to what it was in 1996 and 2000 because Bush did better among men this year than did the Republican candidates in 1996 and 2000.
Bush's Performance in 2000
Overall, Bush improved on his 2000 performance, winning 51% of the popular vote, compared with 48% in 2000. However, that mainly results from the lack of a significant performance by any third-party candidate this year who took votes away from the two major parties, such as Nader did in 2000. (To put it in perspective, Kerry, who lost the popular vote this year, got the same 48% as Gore in 2000, and Gore won the popular vote.) For the most part, Bush's 2004 performances are similar to what they were in 2000, other than the slight increase from the higher major-party vote. However, his gains among conservatives (+9), urban residents (+9), and weekly churchgoers (+7) suggest a real increase in support over 2000, while his seven-point drop in support among younger voters and six-point drop among rural residents indicates a significant decrease in support compared with 2000.
These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1.573 likely voters, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 29-31, 2004. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
The results are adjusted to reflect the overall national popular two-party vote.