updated 9/29/2004 5:50:23 PM ET 2004-09-29T21:50:23

If matching presidential candidates to their positions on basic issues were like a “Jeopardy!” category, most Americans wouldn’t earn a single dollar.

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More than half of those polled by the National Annenberg Election Survey didn’t know President Bush alone favors allowing private investments of some Social Security money. Nearly as many didn’t know that only Democratic candidate John Kerry proposes getting rid of tax breaks for the overseas profits of U.S. companies.

Importing drugs from Canada? That’s a Kerry issue, but nearly half either didn’t know or thought Bush also supported changing federal law to allow for drug imports from Canada.

Making abortions more difficult to obtain? Nearly one-third of those surveyed didn’t know Bush alone supports more restrictions on abortion.

Bush vs. Kerry issue-by-issueEliminating the tax on estates? Two-thirds didn’t know that’s a Bush proposal.

After two years of presidential campaigning and hundreds of millions of dollars in political ads, many voters remained clueless about those and other policies, according to the survey.

Annenberg analyst Kate Kenski blamed the candidates for not stressing their points of view and the news media for focusing on character assessments and the race itself.

“It’s disappointing that people don’t know where the candidates stand, given how much money’s been spent on the campaigns,” said Kenski, a senior research analyst. “In the absence of good information, voters guess and often guess incorrectly.”

The poll of 1,189 adults was taken from Sept. 21-26 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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