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Bush, Kerry in White House dead heat -- poll
Updated: 2004-10-20 14:41

President Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry remain tied in the race for the White House two weeks before the Nov. 2 election, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Tuesday.

For the second consecutive day, Bush and Kerry were deadlocked at 45 percent apiece in the three-day tracking poll. About 7 percent of likely voters say they are still undecided between the president and the Massachusetts senator.

"The candidates are still in a statistical dead heat, with Kerry making incremental gains in a steady drip-drip-drip that has eroded the president's lead," said pollster John Zogby. Bush had a four-point lead three days ago.

The number of likely voters who believe Bush deserves to be re-elected dropped from 47 percent to 45 percent over the last four days, with the number of voters who believe it is time for someone new climbing from 48 percent to 51 percent.

But the stubborn gap between those who want a new president and those who support Kerry indicates he still has not convinced some voters that he is a worthy alternative to Bush.

"With 51 percent saying it is time for someone new and 45 percent supporting Kerry, he is still underperforming," Zogby said.

Bush and Kerry traded some of their sharpest accusations yet over Iraq and the war on terror on Monday, with Bush accusing Kerry of ignoring the lessons of Sept. 11, 2001, and Kerry blasting Bush for arrogantly ignoring the advice of top generals in Iraq.

Bush began the day in Democratic-leaning New Jersey and Kerry campaigned in Florida, where early voting began on Monday. Florida and Ohio top a list of about 10 tightly fought swing states where the race for the 270 electoral votes needed to claim the White House will be decided.

The poll of 1,208 likely voters was taken Saturday through Monday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. The rolling poll will continue through Nov. 1 -- the day before the election.

A tracking poll combines the results of three consecutive nights of polling, then drops the first night's results each time a new night is added. It allows pollsters to record shifts in voter sentiment as they happen.

The poll showed independent candidate Ralph Nader, blamed by some Democrats for drawing enough votes from Al Gore to cost him the election in 2000, with the support of 1.5 percent of likely voters.

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