Even though Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan expressed confidence in the economy's recovery this week, the public still ranks the economy as the most important issue for the government right now.
A small majority agrees with Greenspan's comments on Capitol Hill that the economy is on its way out of a recession; however, in the latest FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll, voters pick the economy as the top issue to be addressed. The economy outranks other top issues such as education and homeland security. Here's how voters ranked a list of top issues for Congress to work on right now:
The public feels slightly less optimistic about the economy today than at the end of last year. Overall, 66 percent feel optimistic today compared to 71 percent in December, while 28 percent feel pessimistic now compared to 24 percent previously. While a majority of the public feels "safe and secure" about their personal financial situation (55 percent), more people feel "frightened" (29 percent), than did in December.
Voters see the GOP as the party that would do a better job on the economy, as well as on the issues of military defense, taxes, and homeland security, while Democrats are seen as doing a better job on education, Social Security, and campaign finance reform.
Campaign finance reform has been a hot topic in recent weeks, and a vote on legislation could be held in the Senate this week. Even so, very few people see the issue as a priority. Only three percent select campaign finance as the most important issue for Congress to address right now. Few Americans are aware of whether their elected officials received campaign contributions from Enron. In addition, almost 4 in 10 say it will make no difference in their vote if an elected official did receive Enron money.
The General Accounting Office recently sued Vice President Dick Cheney to force him to turn over notes of energy task force meetings. A majority of the public (59 percent) agrees with Cheney that the White House is entitled to keep their conversations private. At the same time, about half (49 percent) agree that Congress and other government agencies have the right to review the notes of private White House meetings. "The fact that people gave conflicting responses to these questions indicates that they do not feel strongly about this issue," according to Lawrence Shiman, a director with Opinion Dynamics Corporation. "Many people can see both sides of the debate."
As the Senate is scheduled to begin debating an energy bill, the poll asked Americans about some proposals to reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil. While over half of the public opposes rationing gas and oil, people are more likely to support "decreasing demand by requiring conservation" to reduce dependence on foreign oil than "increasing supply by drilling more in the U.S." (43 percent require conservation to 33 percent drill more in U.S.).
At the same time, over half (55 percent) favor opening a small portion of the Alaskan wilderness area for oil exploration, a proposal backed by the Bush administration and opposed by Senate Democrats. Not surprisingly, Republicans are significantly more likely to support this proposal (68 percent favor compared to 44 percent of Democrats).
As the battles over energy and campaign finance reform continue on Capitol Hill, another "battle" was recently approved when Washington officials gave Mike Tyson a license to box there (Tyson was declined a license to fight in Las Vegas). The match planners may want to consider adding Senators Tom Daschle and Trent Lott to the lineup -- Americans think a Daschle vs. Lott boxing match would be more interesting than Tyson vs. Lennox Lewis.
Polling was conducted by telephone February 26-27, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.
1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president?
|26-27 Feb 02||77%||13||10|
|30-31 Jan 02||81%||12||7|
|9-10 Jan 02||83%||10||7|
|12-13 Dec 01||86%||8||6|
|28-29 Nov 01||86%||6||8|
2. Thinking ahead to the year 2002, if the congressional election were held today, would you vote for the Republican candidate in your district or the Democratic candidate in your district? (If undecided) Well, if you had to vote, which way would you lean?
|26-27 Feb 02||34%||6||40||30||2||32||28|
|12-13 Dec 01||33%||7||40||21||8||29||31|
|28-29 Mar 01||32%||6||38||33||3||36||26|
|10-11 Jan 01||26%||7||33||32||6||38||29|
3. Do you happen to know if any member from your state's congressional delegation -- that is your congressional representative or either of your Senators -- received campaign contributions from Enron?
|1. Yes, did receive||11%|
|2. No, did not receive||28|
|3. (Not sure)||61|
4. If an elected official from your state took a campaign contribution from Enron, would you be more or less likely to vote for him or her in the next election?
|1. More likely||8%|
|2. Less likely||41|
|3. (No difference)||37|
|4. (Don’t know)||14|
5. What do you think are the two most important issues for the federal government to address? (Do Not Read)
|26-27 Feb 02||12-13 Dec 01||19-20 Sep 01|
|Family values/morals(decline of)||6||7||5|
|Usama bin Laden||1||1||3|
|Campaign finance Reform||1||-||-|
|IRS problems -||-||-|
6. Of the following issues, which do you think is the most important for Congress to be working on right now? (Randomize)
|Campaign Finance Reform||3|
7. - 14. Which political party -- the Republicans or the Democrats -- do you think would do a better job on each of the following issues? (ROTATE)
SCALE: 1. Republicans 2. Democrats 3. (Equal) 4. (Not sure)
|26-27 Feb 02||41%||36||10||13|
|28-29 Mar 01||42%||37||8||13|
|26-27 Feb 02||36%||38||12||14|
|28-29 Mar 01||42%||35||12||11|
|26-27 Feb 02||33%||44||9||14|
|28-29 Mar 01||39%||41||7||13|
|26-27 Feb 02||55%||23||9||13|
|28-29 Mar 01||59%||22||7||12|
|26-27 Feb 02||40%||37||10||13|
|28-29 Mar 01||47%||35||7||11|
|26-27 Feb 02||38%||37||9||16|
Campaign Finance Reform
|26-27 Feb 02||31%||35||11||23|
|26-27 Feb 02||48%||23||12||17|
15. Would you say you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the U.S. economy right now? (If optimistic/pessimistic) Is that strongly or only somewhat?
|26-27 Feb 02||31%||35||18||10||4||2|
|12-13 Dec 01||33%||38||16||8||-||5|
|3-4 Oct 01||34%||37||16||7||2||4|
|25-26 July 01||22%||33||22||15||3||5|
16. How about your own personal financial situation. Are you frightened about your personal financial future or do you feel safe and secure?
SCALE: 1. Frightened 2. Safe and secure 3. (Neither) 4. (Not sure)
|26-27 Feb 02||29%||55||12||4|
|12-13 Dec 01||26%||66||-||8|
|3-4 Oct 01||21%||67||8||4|
|22-23 Aug 01||29%||57||10||4|
|18-19 Apr 01||18%||70||9||3|
17. Do you think the country is currently headed out of a recession or are we headed deeper into a recession?
|On way out of recession||Deeper into Recession||(Not in recession)||(Dk)|
|26-27 Feb 02||55%||29||4||12|
|30-31 Jan 02||45%||37||1||17|
|9-10 Jan 02||55%||31||2||12|
|12-13 Dec 01||43%||41||2||14|
18. Do you support or oppose the U.S. military action being taken in response to the terrorist attacks?
|26-27 Feb 02|
|30-31 Jan 02|
|19-20 Sep 01|
19.-20. How important do you think each of the following is as a goal of the U.S. military action in Afghanistan?
SCALE: 1. Very important, 2. Somewhat important, 3. Not very important, 4. Not at all important, 5. (Not sure)
Capturing or killing Usama bin Laden
|Very||Somewhat||Not very||Not at all||(DK)|
|26-27 Feb 02||59%||27||7||4||3|
|14-15 Nov 01||73%||20||3||2||2|
Providing humanitarian aid
|Very||Somewhat||Not very||Not at all||(DK)|
|26-27 Feb 02||50%||34||9||4||3|
|14-15 Nov 01||65%||25||5||2||3|
21.President Bush has said that Usama bin Laden is wanted "dead or alive." Would you prefer to see bin Laden assassinated or captured and brought to trial in the U.S.?
SCALE: 1. Prefer assassination 2. Prefer capture and trial 3. (Not sure)
|Assassination||Capture and trial||(Not sure)|
|26-27 Feb 02||38%||46||16|
|28-29 Nov 01||43%||45||12|
|3-4 Oct 01||36%||51||13|
22.If you had to choose only one option, which do you think is the better way to reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil?
|26-27 Feb 02||6-7 June 01|
|1. Increase supply by drilling more in the U.S.||33%||37%|
|2. Decrease demand by requiring conservation||43||38|
|4. (Not sure)||9||7|
23. Do you think most Americans:
|26-27 Feb 02||6-7 June 01|
|1. Think about trying to conserve energy, or||24%||20%|
|2. Pretty much take energy supplies for granted?||71||75|
|3. (Not sure)||5||5|
24. Do you favor or oppose rationing gasoline and oil to reduce the country's dependence on imports of Middle East oil?
|3. (Not sure)||11|
25. Do you favor or oppose opening a small amount — less than 10 percent — of the Alaskan wilderness areas for oil exploration as a way to reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil?
|3. (Not sure)||10|
Please tell me whether you agree or disagree with the following statements.
SCALE: 1. Agree 2. Disagree 3. (Don’t know)
26. The president, vice president and other White House officials are entitled to keep conversations that are held in the executive offices private.
27. Senators, Representatives and other government agencies have the right to review the notes of private meetings held at the White House.
28. The White House has the right to review the notes of private meetings held by U.S. Senators and Representatives.
29. Which do you think is more important:
|1. The president and his administration's ability to get confidential advice from outside individuals and organizations, or||36%|
|2. Investigators' right to get information for their investigations?||25|
|3. (Combination, depends on issue)||24|
|4. (Not sure)||15|
30. In a recent interview, former presidential candidate Ralph Nader said, "This war would never have happened had I been president." Nader says that his long-standing emphasis on safety issues would have forced the airlines to toughen cockpit doors before September 11. Some people have said Nader's comments are outrageous and offensive in our current situation. Others have said that these are appropriate comments on important public issues facing the country. Which is closer to your view?
|1. Nader's comments are outrageous||54%|
|2. Nader's comments are appropriate||24|
|4. (Don’t know)||13|
31. Recently Mike Tyson was granted a license to box in Washington, D.C. Which boxing match on the steps of the U.S. Capitol would you find more interesting — Mike Tyson versus Lennox Lewis or Democrat Tom Daschle versus Republican Trent Lott?
|1. Tyson vs. Lewis||26%|
|2. Daschle vs. Lott||43|
|3. (Tyson vs. Daschle)||2|
|4. (Tyson vs. Lott)||1|
|5. (Don't know)||28|
32. Who do you think would give Tyson the best fight — George W. Bush or Al Gore?
|4. (Not sure)||15|