After tour of swing states, Bush gains in polls

President Bush has made gains with voters in the past three weeks, despite the revelations about US abuses of detainees in Iraq.

The latest Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll, taken May 2 through 8, shows Bush beating Democratic challenger John Kerry 46 percent to 41 percent, with independent Ralph Nader getting 5 percent of the vote. In a two-way race, Bush leads Senator Kerry 47 percent to 44 percent. In the last Monitor/TIPP poll, taken April 16 to 22, Bush led by four points in a three-man race.

Bush's gains were notably big in the 17 so-called battleground states, those that were decided by a close margin in 2000 and promise to be close again this fall. From mid-April to early May, the president widened his lead in those states from three points to nine, and now leads Kerry there, 49 percent to 40 percent. Those states include Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan, all of which Bush visited last week on two bus tours.

Raghavan Mayur, president of TIPP, attributes Bush's gains in the battleground both to the bus tour, which garnered a lot of local publicity, and heavy campaign advertising. "He was shaking a lot of hands," says Mr. Mayur.

The poll showed greater intensity among Bush supporters than Kerry supporters. Two-thirds (68 percent) of Bush supporters say they support him strongly, while 38 percent of Kerry supporters do so.

The poll also showed a rise in the president's leadership index rating, from 49.5 in April, the lowest point of his presidency, to 51.8 in May. On the economic front, the poll showed more good news for Bush, in a week capped by positive job-creation numbers: TIPP's Economic Optimism Index rose 2 points, to 54.8. A reading above 50 means optimism, below 50 means pessimism.

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