More Americans would prefer to have Thanksgiving dinner with President Bush than with former President Bill Clinton or with their favorite celebrity.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, the latest FOX News national poll asked Americans about their holiday dinner guest preferences.  The poll, conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, found that half of the public would rather have Thanksgiving dinner with George W. Bush than with Bill Clinton (29 percent), with 19 percent choosing "neither."

Republicans are much more likely to choose their party's current leader (83 percent) than Democrats are to choose Clinton (62 percent), while independents, women and those over age 70 are among those most likely to say "neither" to these options (25 percent, 21 percent and 24 percent respectively).

When asked to chose between the president and their favorite Hollywood or sports celebrity, 44 percent select President Bush as their dinner companion while just over a third (37 percent) say they would rather dine with their favorite celebrity (17 percent say "neither").

Whomever they are dining with, most Americans say they have more to be thankful for this year compared to 10 years ago.  This Thanksgiving, fully 82 percent say they have more to be thankful for -- the same percent as in 2001 and up six points from 1996.

"Despite some of the gloomy economic news they've been hearing, American consumers appear to be anticipating a pretty normal holiday season," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman.  "While it may not break any record on the high side, it doesn't appear that it will be a retailing disaster either."

Over half say they have started their holiday shopping (56 percent).  Those most likely to have already started gathering gifts include women (61 percent), high-income families (66 percent) and those living in the Northeast (61 percent).

About 40 percent of Americans say they plan to spend less than $500 on holiday gifts this year, while 42 percent say they will spend more than $500, including 17 percent who plan to spend over $1000.

Polling was conducted by telephone November 19-20, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points. All results are of registered voters, unless otherwise noted. 

1. Who would you rather have Thanksgiving dinner with: (ROTATE)

  All Men Women Dem Rep Ind
1. President George Bush, or 50% 53% 48% 16% 83% 49%
2. Former President Bill Clinton? 29 29 29 62 7 21
3. (Neither) 19 16 21 20 9 25
4. (Not sure) 2 2 3 2 1 5

2. Who would you rather have Thanksgiving dinner with: (ROTATE)

  All Men Women Dem Rep Ind
1. President George Bush, 44% 47% 42% 21% 69% 38%
2. Or your favorite Hollywood or Sports Celebrity? 35 36 34 54 20 37
3. (Neither) 17 14 19 20 8 20
4. (Not sure) 4 3 5 5 3 5

3. This Thanksgiving, do you have more or less to be thankful for than you did 10 years ago?

  All Men Wmn Dem Rep Ind Nov 2001 Nov 1999 Nov 1996
1. More 82% 80% 84% 79% 88% 78% 82% 83% 76%
2. Less 8 9 8 11 5 8 7 8 13
3. (Same) 9 11 7 10 6 13 9 8 9
4. (Not sure) 1 * 2 1 1 1 2 1 2

4. Have you already started your holiday shopping?

  All Men Wmn Dem Rep Ind 28-29 Nov'01
1. Yes 56% 49% 61% 53% 57% 59% 69%
2. No/(Not sure) 44 51 39 47 43 41 31

5. How much money do you think you will spend on holiday gifts this year? (Open Ended)

  $250 $251-500 $501-1000 $1000+ (Dk/Ref)
19-20 Nov 02 17% 23 25 17 18
28-29 Nov 01 15% 27 27 19 12
3-4 Oct 01 20% 32 25 13 10
10-11 Dec 97 18% 33 27 16 6