Some new public opinion polls suggest the U.S. presidential election remains very tight and that an unusually high number of voters have already decided which candidate they will support.
The latest poll conducted for The Los Angeles Times newspaper puts President Bush ahead of Senator John Kerry by a margin of 49 to 46 percent.
A second poll known as the Battleground Survey found Mr. Kerry with a 48 to 47 percent lead over the president, with independent candidate Ralph Nader at three percent. Both of the new polls have a margin of error of plus or minus three points and involved recent surveys of more than a thousand registered voters nationwide.
Democratic political strategist Celinda Lake helped to conduct the Battleground Survey. She says all indications are that the race remains too close to call and will likely stay that way for the next two months.
"The race remains historically close and historically polarized," she said. "And so, barring any kind of unforeseen circumstances, I think we are very likely to see only very small changes between now and Election Day."
Republican pollster Ed Goeas is the other half of the team responsible for the Battleground Survey. He says this election, more than any other in recent memory, is notable for the large numbers of people who apparently have already made up their minds as to whom they will support in November.
"In the first week of September in 1992, 64 percent of voters were definitely voting either for Bill Clinton or voting for [the first] President Bush," he noted. "Today, in this latest survey, we have 84 percent, 20 percent higher, definitely voting for John Kerry or for George W. Bush."
The polls generally give President Bush an advantage on handling the war on terrorism and in promoting tax cuts. Senator Kerry tends to have an edge on job creation and other domestic issues like health care and pension reform.