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Most Oppose Allowing President Third Term

George W. Bush would handily defeat Bill Clinton if they were the major party candidates in 2004. In a hypothetical matchup between the current president and his predecessor, 53 percent say they would vote for Bush while less than a third (32 percent) say they would vote for Clinton, with six percent saying “neither." Of course, these two candidates are only imaginary opponents as the U.S. Constitution restricts Clinton from running for a third term.

But should the Constitution be changed? In a recent speech, former President Clinton commented that he thought the 22nd Amendment (search) to the Constitution “should probably be modified” to allow an individual to serve more than two terms as president. In the latest FOX News poll, conducted June 3-4 by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, most Americans oppose making such a change to the Constitution.

Only 20 percent of the public supports changing the 22nd Amendment, while the more widely held opinion (75 percent) is that the Constitution should not be modified to allow for a third presidential term. Partisanship is not an issue here, as Democrats and Republicans equally oppose allowing a third term. Men are slightly more opposed to making the change than women (78 percent and 73 percent respectively). Some of Clinton’s fellow baby boomers (age 51-59) are the strongest opponents at 82 percent.

In the hypothetical Bush-Clinton matchup, Republicans solidly support Bush (88 percent) compared to 62 percent of Democrats who say they would vote for Clinton. Almost a quarter (24 percent) of Democrats say they would vote for Bush while only seven percent of GOPers would vote for Clinton.

2004 Democrats Not Household Names

The new poll finds most of the 2004 Democratic presidential candidates remain largely unknown to the public. Being Al Gore’s vice presidential running mate in the 2000 election no doubt has helped Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (search) achieve the highest name recognition of the nine candidates, with over two-thirds able to rate him. Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt (search) and New York Minister Al Sharpton (search) are the only other candidates who also have better than 50 percent name recognition.

The least well known include former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (search) (71 percent cannot rate), former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (search) (76 percent cannot rate), North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (search) (70 percent cannot rate), Florida Sen. Bob Graham (search) (61 percent cannot rate) and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich (search) (83 percent cannot rate) — all of whom have sizeable majorities either unable to recognize their name or to offer an opinion of them.

Overall, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton (search) and Al Sharpton are the Democrats with the most negative public images, with both being rated unfavorably by just under half of the public.

Sen. Lieberman has the highest favorable rating (46 percent) of the candidates, and positive opinion of Lieberman also narrowly bests that of possible candidate Sen. Clinton (44 percent favorable). When looking at the ratings only among Democrats — they retain their spots as the two with the most positive public images, but Clinton soundly bests Lieberman (among Democrats: Clinton 70 percent favorable and Lieberman 55 percent).

Today, none of the Democratic hopefuls comes anywhere close to the 67 percent favorable rating (92 percent among Republicans) that President Bush currently enjoys.

Polling was conducted by telephone June 3-4, 2003 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points. Results are of registered voters, unless otherwise noted. LV = likely voters

1. I'm going to read the names of some people. Please tell me whether you have a generally favorable or unfavorable opinion of each. If you've never heard of one, please just say so. (RANDOMIZE)

SCALE: 1. Favorable 2. Unfavorable 3.(Can't say) 4. Never heard of

Summary
  Favorable Unfavorable Can't Say Never Heard
Carol Moseley Braun 13% 16 17 54
George W. Bush 67% 27 6 -
Laura Bush 73% 11 13 3
Dick Cheney 61% 25 10 4
Hillary Clinton 44% 47 8 1
Howard Dean 12% 12 20 56
John Edwards 17% 13 21 49
Dick Gephardt 36% 24 19 21
Bob Graham 22% 17 24 37
John Kerry 28% 19 19 34
Dennis Kucinich 8% 9 13 70
Joe Lieberman 46% 23 18 13
Al Sharpton 14% 45 15 26

2. George W. Bush

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't Say Never Heard
3-4 Jun 03 67% 27 6 -
11-12 Mar 03 62% 29 9 -
14-15 Jan 03 64% 27 8 1
17-18 Dec 02 68% 25 7 -
3-4 Dec 02 65% 27 8 -
22-23 Oct 02 LV 62% 31 7 -

3. John Edwards

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't Say Never Heard
3-4 Jun 03 17% 13 21 49
14-15 Jan 03 17% 10 23 50

4. Al Sharpton

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't Say Never Heard
3-4 Jun 03 14% 45 15 26
14-15 Jan 03 10% 46 16 28
22-23 Aug 01 15% 42 15 28

5. Dennis Kucinich

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't Say Never Heard
3-4 Jun 03 8% 9 13 70

6. Carol Moseley Braun

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't Say Never Heard
3-4 Jun 03 13% 16 17 54

7. Dick Gephardt

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't Say Never Heard
3-4 Jun 03 36% 24 19 21
14-15 Jan 03 32% 28 22 18
20-21 May 98 27% 21 25 27

8. Bob Graham

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't Say Never Heard
3-4 Jun 03 22% 17 24 37

9. Laura Bush

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't Say Never Heard
3-4 Jun 03 73% 11 13 3
17-18 Dec 02 78% 9 10 3
16-17 Apr 02 74% 8 16 2
12-13 Dec 01 76% 5 17 2
14-15 Nov 01 74% 7 16 3
18-19 Apr 01 61% 10 25 4

10. Hillary Clinton

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't Say Never Heard
3-4 Jun 03 44% 47 8 1
17-18 Dec 02 47% 45 8 -
14-15 Nov 01 44% 44 11 1
18-19 Apr 01 42% 49 9 -
14-15 Mar 01 39% 51 10 -
21-22 Feb 01 44% 46 10 -

11. Dick Cheney

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't Say Never Heard
3-4 Jun 03 61% 25 10 4
3-4 Dec 02 57% 22 18 3
6-7 Aug 02 60% 25 12 3
30-31 Jan 02 59% 20 16 5
22-23 Aug 01 57% 27 14 2
11-12 Jul 01 65% 21 12 2

12. Joe Lieberman

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't Say Never Heard
3-4 Jun 03 46% 23 18 13
14-15 Jan 03 42% 30 20 8
17-18 Dec 02 42% 25 21 12
1 Dec 00 47% 26 23 4
3 Nov 00 LV 53% 21 20 6
20 Oct 00 LV 50% 22 22 6

13. John Kerry

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't Say Never Heard
3-4 Jun 03 28% 19 19 34
14-15 Jan 03 25% 16 20 39

14. Howard Dean

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't Say Never Heard
3-4 Jun 03 12% 12 20 56
14-15 Jan 03 7% 8 18 67

15. Do you support or oppose changing the constitution to allow a president to serve more than two terms?

1. Support 20%
2. Oppose 75
3. (Not sure) 5

16. If the constitution were changed and former President Clinton could run for president again, would you:

1. Definitely vote for him 19%
2. Probably vote for him 12
3. Probably vote against him or 14
4. Definitely vote against him? 48
5. (Not sure) 7

(for reference) If it were possible, would you want to see President Clinton elected to a third term, or do you think it's time for him to go?

  Yes, third term No (Don't know)
18-19 Oct 00 25% 73 2
7-8 Jun 00* 32% 65 3
16-17 Sep 98* 29% 65 6
25-26 Mar 98* 40% 53 7

*June 2000 and earlier: "Considering how well the economy is doing, his overall performance as president, and also acknowledging the scandals around him, if it were possible, would you want to see President Clinton elected to a third term?"

17. If the constitution were changed and former President Bill Clinton could run for president again, how do you think you would vote if he ran against President George W. Bush in 2004?

1. Clinton 32%
2. Bush 53
3. (Neither) 6
4. (Not sure) 9