Ipsos-Reid/Cook Political Report: The Do-It-Yourself Election

Democrats Fail to Turn Economic Distress into Votes for a New Economic Policy; Republicans Fail to Turn Bush Job Scores into Preference for Republican Congress; Parties Leave Voters to Figure It Out for Themselves

Between October 28 and November 3, 2002, Ipsos-Reid US Public Affairs interviewed a representative sample of 2,000 adults nationwide, including 1,518 registered voters and 1,001 likely voters. The margin of error for the combined surveys is +/- 2.2% for all adults, +/- 2.6% for registered voters and +/- 3.1% for likely voters.

Washington, D.C. -- Likely voters are split, with 46% preferring Republicans to control Congress after tomorrow's elections, 44% Democrats, and a whopping 10% still undecided or unsure, according to the final Ipsos-Reid/Cook Political Report Poll of the 2002 election cycle.

Among all registered voters, Democrats lead, 45% to 43%, but it is unlikely that anything like all registered voters will participate. Turnout will determine which party wins. Likely voters are those who say they are extremely likely to vote. Very Likely Voters express extreme likelihood for voting, and high interest in following election news. Hardcore Voters express extreme likelihood of voting, and extremely high interest.

And if the election for Congress were held today, would you want to see the Republicans or Democrats win control of Congress?


Low turnout favors Republicans, up to a point.

  • Among all registered voters, Democrats lead, 45%-43%, but Republicans lead, 46%-44% among Likely Voters.
  • Very Likely Voters, representing 41% of all registered voters, approximate a normal midterm election turnout. Republicans also lead by an insignificant two percentage points, 47%-45% among these Very Likely Voters.
  • Hardcore Voters represent the 28% of registered voters who are certain to vote. If they are the only ones who show up to vote, Democrats hold a nominal (statistically insignificant) lead of 47% Democrat to 44% Republican.

Undecided Voters

Undecided voters reflect the ambivalence of the overall electorate. Many self-professed Likely Voters who remain undecided in the final week before Election Day will fail to vote. Some will drag themselves to the polls and do something, however, and in a race this close, their opinions matter. Undecided voters can be described as follows:

  • Only half (51%) are extremely likely to vote--many will fail to vote.
  • Say the country is on the wrong track (57%), while (32%) say it is heading in the right direction.
  • In their overall party preference, 21% are Republicans, 27% Democrats, and 47% are truly Independent, with the rest not sure.
  • Approve of Bush's overall performance as President (57% approve-35% disapprove), although they are split on his handling of the economy (47% approve-44% disapprove). They feel better about his handling of other domestic issues (48%-40%) and foreign policy and the war on terrorism (59%-33%).
  • Only 34% would definitely vote to reelect Bush, 36% would consider someone else, but only 24% definitely would vote for someone else.
  • They are middle-aged, with two-in-three (67%) age 35-64, compared to 57% of all registered voters. Few undecided are among the oldest or youngest voters.
  • They tend to be slightly less-well-educated than all registered voters, with slightly lower incomes--although half (48%) are investors and two-thirds (69%) are homeowners.
  • They include men (47%) and women (53%), in a representative distribution by region and by urban-suburban-rural types of places to live.

Final Weekend Trends

Among Likely Voters and Very Likely Voters, here are comparisons between the interviews conducted last week, October 28-31, and this past weekend, November 1-3. What trend we see in recent days among the larger group of Likely Voters and the more narrow definition of Very Likely Voters seem to favor Republicans.

Warning: Weekend samples are often more Republican than weekday samples, which may explain the "trend". Elections are held on Tuesdays.

And if the election for Congress were held today, would you want to see the Republicans or Democrats win control of Congress?

Red and Blue America: The Do-It-Yourself Election

In conjunction with both the Cook Political Report and National Journal magazine, Ipsos-Reid has been tracking opinions of voters by how their county voted in the excruciatingly close 2000 Presidential election. Weak Bush and Gore counties are the swing geographies of the U.S.--those counties where Bush (or Gore) won with less than 55% of the major party vote.

Nothing better demonstrates how voters have found their own way home than the final results of this analysis, based on surveys conducted with 2,293 registered voters from October 25 through November 3.

Over the course of the year, weak Bush counties have sometimes wandered away from Republicans and weak Gore counties have moved toward the Republicans from time to time, but as Election Day approaches, voters have returned to their 2000 vote patterns. Republican control of Congress is preferred in Weak Bush counties, 47%-40%, and Democratic control preferred in Weak Gore counties, 47%-40%.

In the end, voters figured it out for themselves, without the impetus of strong messages from either party.

And if the election for Congress were held today, would you want to see the Republicans or Democrats win control of Congress?

    For more information on this release, please contact: Thomas Riehle President Ipsos-Reid US Public Affairs 202.463.7300

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