George W. Bush has reason to smile. Halfway through his "honeymoon" majorities of Americans approve of the job he's doing, favor his tax cut proposal, give positive ratings on his leadership skills and moral standards and, probably most importantly, have confidence in the future of the stock market.

According to the latest FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll, 56 percent approve of the job Bush is doing as president, and 60 percent rate his leadership skills as either "excellent" or "good." Leadership is considered the most important quality for a president (39 percent), outranking high moral standards (26 percent) and knowledge of the issues (24 percent). In the recent past, high moral standards largely outranked other qualities as being the most important for a president to have.

While only 39 percent of the public rate the current economy positively, most think the country is experiencing a "downturn, but not a recession" (63 percent). Only 12 percent think the country is currently in a recession. Fifty-five percent of Americans (and 58 percent of investors) favor Bush's proposed tax cuts, and 46 percent think a major tax cut would decrease the chance of a recession.

Whether it's being called a downturn or a recession, President Bush receives the least amount of credit (or blame depending on one's perspective) for today's economy (six percent). Twenty percent say the public is most responsible for current economic conditions, 17 percent say Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve, and 11 percent say Congress, and 11 percent say former President Clinton.

A majority approves of the job Greenspan and the Federal Reserve Board are doing and 72 percent say they pay attention to the Board's decisions about raising and lowering interest rates. Probably in the hope that it would boost the stock market, 56 percent would like to see the Board lower rates at its meeting later this month and 29 percent say leave interest rates at their current level.

Looking one year down the road, almost half of the public (and about 60 percent of investors) expects the stock market to be higher than it is today.

"This figure can be read in a number of ways," commented Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "On the one hand, it suggests that many people are basing their current assessment of the economy-which has changed radically in just the last 90 days-from news reports rather than personal experience. That gives it a somewhat unreal feeling for many people and they expect it to end as quickly and as relatively painlessly as it began.

"On the other hand, if things are bad as some economic forecasters suggest, it means that real drops in consumer confidence are still ahead. Real layoffs, real unemployment, the realization that any tax cut won't have a real impact for quite some time could plunge consumers into real pessimism as opposed to the 'conventional wisdom' pessimism we're seeing now."

Looking five years down the road, on a completely different topic, only 35 percent of Americans think Bill and Hillary Clinton will still be married while 40 percent see divorce in the future. As talk continues of the former president running for mayor of New York City, 30 percent say they would vote for him if he ran for mayor in their city (65 percent would not).

Both Bill and Hillary continue to suffer from low favorable ratings. Mrs. Clinton's national favorable rating hit its lowest level ever this week, coming in at 39 percent (51 percent unfavorable). That's down from 52 percent favorable two months ago. The former president's favorable is holding steady at 40 percent (54 percent unfavorable).

Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll Results

Polling was conducted by telephone March 14-15, 2001 in the evenings. The sample is 904 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points. LV = likely voters

1. I'm going to read the names of some political figures. Please tell me whether you have a generally favorable or unfavorable opinion of each. If you've never heard of someone, please just say so. (Randomize)
SCALE: 1. Favorable 2. Unfavorable 3. (Can't say) 4. (Never heard of)

George W. Bush:

  Favorable Unfavorable (Can't Say) (Never Heard)
16 Mar 01 61% 28 11 -
23 Feb 01 61% 24 15 --
9 Feb 01 62% 27 11 --
26 Jan 01 61% 27 12 --
12 Jan 01 58% 31 11 --

2. Dick Cheney:

  Favorable Unfavorable (Can't Say) (Never Heard)
16 Mar 01 61% 19 18 2
23 Feb 01 58% 17 21 4
9 Feb 01 61% 18 19 2
26 Jan 01 64% 16 17 3
12 Jan 01 57% 19 20 4

3. Bill Clinton:

  Favorable Unfavorable (Can't Say) (Never Heard)
16 Mar 01 40% 54 6 -
23 Feb 01 40% 54 6 --
12 Jan 01 48% 46 6 --
1 Dec 00 43% 51 6 --
3 Nov 00 45% 50 5 --
20 Oct 00 48% 49 3 --

4. Hillary Clinton:

  Favorable Unfavorable (Can't Say) (Never Heard)
16 Mar 01 39% 51 10 -
23 Feb 01 44% 46 10 --
12 Jan 01 52% 38 10 --
1 Dec 00 46% 47 7 --
3 Nov 00 46% 47 7 --
20 Oct 00 43% 48 9 --

5. Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president?

  Approve Disapprove (Not sure)
16 Mar 01 56% 23 21
23 Feb 01 61% 16 23
9 Feb 01 55% 16 29
26 Jan 01 46% 14 40

6. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Dick Cheney is doing as vice-president?

  Approve Disapprove (Not sure)
16 Mar 01 54% 11 35

7. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve Board are doing?

  Approve Disapprove (Not sure)
16 Mar 01 56% 15 29

8. Based on what you've seen so far, how would you rate President Bush's leadership skills?

Excellent 20%
Good 40
Only fair 23
Poor 12
(Not sure) 5

9. Overall, how would you rate the quality of the people President Bush selected to be in his Cabinet?

  16 Mar 01 12 Jan 01 *
Excellent 24% 16%
Good 39 37
Fair 21 22
Poor 7 8
(Not sure) 9 17
* President-elect Bush has selected

10. In general, which of the following do you think is the most important qualification for a president to have?

Knowledge of the issues 24%
Leadership skills 39
High moral standards 26
(Other) 7
(Not sure) 4

11. On a scale of excellent, good, only fair and poor, how would you rate President Bush's:

Knowledge of the issues:

  Excellent Good Fair Poor (Not sure)
16 Mar 01 14% 43 26 13 4

12. Leadership skills:

  Excellent Good Fair Poor (Not sure)
16 Mar 01 22% 38 23 11 6

13. Moral standards:

  Excellent Good Fair Poor (Not sure)
16 Mar 01 36% 39 14 5 6

14. In general, do you think the president's job is better described as:

Setting policy and direction for the government, or 42%
Managing the day-to-day affairs of government? 27
(Combo) 26
(Not sure) 5

15. If last November's election for president were held over again tomorrow, for whom would you vote: 1. Republican George W. Bush 2. Democrat Al Gore 3. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, or 4. Reform Party candidate Patrick Buchanan 5. (Other/Would not vote) 6. (Not sure)

  Bush Gore Nader Buchanan (Other) (Won't say)
16 Mar 01 50% 36 3 1 3 7
12 Jan 01 44% 40 5 1 2 8
1 Dec 00 49% 36 3 1 2 9

16. Thinking back to last November's election for president, who do you believe won the election - (Bush) or (Gore)?

  16 Mar 01 1 Dec 00
Bush 56% 56%
Gore 36 25
(Unsure/DK) 8 19

17. Recently there have been stories about Vice President Cheney's heart problems. Would you say you are:

Comfortable with him continuing
to serve as vice president, or
69%
Would you more comfortable if he
stepped down from his duties
to protect his health?
23
(Not sure) 8

18. This week there has been a rumor that President Clinton may run for mayor of New York City next year. If Clinton ran for mayor in your city, would you vote for him or not?

Yes 30%
No 65
(Not sure) 5

19. Looking ahead five years, do you think Bill and Hillary Clinton will still be married?

  Yes No (Not sure)
16 Mar 01 35% 40 25
23 Apr 99 32% 55 13
18 Sept 98 38% 41 21
8 May 98 53% 32 15
29 Jan 98 54% 31 15

20. On a scale of excellent, good, only fair and poor, how would you rate economic conditions today?

    Excellent Good Fair Poor (Dk)
16 Mar 01 All 3% 36 42 18 1
  Investors 3% 36 42 18 1
23 Feb 01   5% 41 44 9 1
12 Jan 01   9% 50 29 10 2
LV 20 Oct 00   19% 54 20 6 1
30 Jun 00   13% 49 27 9 2
22 Oct 99   13% 48 32 6 1
LV 30 Oct 98   11% 54 25 8 1
30 Oct 98   12% 57 24 6 1
LV 9 Oct 98   10% 51 30 8 1
9 Oct 98   11% 49 32 7 1
11 Sep 98   12% 49 31 7 1
2 Jul 98   16% 45 30 8 1

21. Who do you think is most responsible for the current condition of the economy?

The American People, 20%
Congress 11
Former President Bill Clinton 11
President George W. Bush 6
Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve? 17
(Combination) 25
(Not sure) 10

22. A year from now, do you think the stock market will be higher, lower or about the same as it is now?

    Higher Lower The same (Not sure)
16 Mar 01 All 49 13 28 10
  Investors 58 11 25 6
7 Apr 00 All 38% 12 36 14
  Investors 42% 13 36 8
11 Sep 98   33% 13 38 16
9 Jan 98   32% 14 39 15
5 Sep 97   32% 16 33 19
7 Mar 97   22% 26 32 20

23. Do you think the country is currently:

In an economic recession 12%
In a downturn, but not a recession, or 63
Do you think the economy is doing okay? 22
(Not sure) 3

24. How likely do you think an economic recession is in the U.S. in the coming year?

Very likely 10%
Somewhat likely 46
Not very likely 29
Not at all likely 8
(Not sure) 7

25. How likely do you think it is that you or someone in your family will lose their job this year?

  16 Mar 01 9 Feb 01
Very likely 8% 10%
Somewhat likely 13 14
Not very likely 32 33
Not at all likely 43 39
(Not sure) 4 4

26. Have you personally tried to reduce your household and personal spending because of concern about a possible recession or job loss?

  16 Mar 01 9 Feb 01
Yes 37% 39%
No 61 58
(Not sure) 2 3

27. Have you made plans for a summer vacation this year? (If yes) Compared to your last vacation, do you plan to spend more or less on this year's vacation?

Yes, more 14%
Yes, less 10
Yes, the same 18
Yes, (not sure) 2
No plans 56

28. How much attention do you pay to the Federal Reserve Board's decisions about raising or lowering interest rates?

A lot 36%
Some 36
Very little 18
None at all 8
(Not sure) 2

29. At the next meeting of the Federal Reserve Board later this month, do you think the Board should:

Cut interest rates, 56%
Raise interest rates, or 3
Leave them unchanged? 29
(Not sure) 12

30. Do you own any shares in mutual funds - either directly or through a retirement plan such as a 401k?

  Yes No (Not sure)
16 Mar 01 65% 33 2
7 Apr 00 55% 41 4

31. Based on what you know about it, do you favor or oppose President Bush's proposal for a $1.6 trillion dollar tax cut over the next 10 years?

    Favor Oppose (Not sure)
16 Mar 01 All 55% 32 13
  Investors 58% 31 11
9 Feb 01   54% 29 17

32. Which of the following do you think would be better for the country?

  16 Mar 01 9 Feb 01
If the government decides how to spend
the current budget surplus
19% 20%
If there are tax cuts and
taxpayers decide how to spend it
65 66
(Not sure) 16 14

33. Do you think a major cut in federal income taxes is more likely to:

  16 Mar 01 12 Jan 01
Decrease the chance of a recession, or 46% 43%
Increase the chance of a recession? 21 26
(Neither) 17 12
(Not sure) 16 19

34. What is the maximum percentage of a person's income that should go to taxes - that's all taxes - state, federal and local? Out of every dollar, what's the highest percentage anybody should have to pay?

  16 Mar 01 12 Jan 01
Less than 20 percent 52% 65%
21-30 percent 27 24
31-40 percent 7 3
41-50 percent 1 1
51-60 percent - -
Whatever the government
wants to take
1 1
(Not sure) 12 6