updated 8/12/2004 1:05:11 PM ET 2004-08-12T17:05:11

Democratic Sen. John Kerry has taken a slight lead over President Bush in Florida, the essential swing state in the 2000 election, according to a poll out Thursday.

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Kerry and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards, had the backing of 47 percent in the poll by Quinnipiac University of Hamden, Conn. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney had the support of 41 percent, and independent Ralph Nader and his running mate, Peter Camejo, had 4 percent.

Bush and Kerry were deadlocked in Florida at 43 percent each in a Quinnipiac poll in late June.

The August poll found Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the president’s younger brother, getting tepid reviews from Floridians. They were evenly split on whether they approved or disapproved of the job he was doing in his second term.

The survey also found that fewer than half, 47 percent, were “very confident” that their vote would count. Only 1 in 5 said the same about new touch-screen voting machines that will be used this year in 15 of the state’s largest counties.

Bush’s 537-vote edge in Florida in 2000 gave him the presidency over Democrat Al Gore after a fierce political struggle that included recounts, lawsuits and a final decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of Bush.

Florida since then has spent more than $32 million on improvements in equipment and voter education, but machine malfunctions in subsequent elections and the removal of a county supervisor for incompetence have contributed to voter uncertainty.

The poll of 1,094 registered voters, which was conducted Aug. 5-10, reported a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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