• Still Important to Find WMD in Iraq | Gay Marriage

As postwar violence continues in Iraq and Democratic hopefuls latch on to new questions surrounding prewar intelligence, President Bush’s job approval rating remains strong. Even so, the president’s reelect numbers have taken a hit in the latest FOX News poll.

The national poll of registered voters, which was conducted July 15-16 by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, finds approval of President Bush’s job performance has dropped below 60 percent for the first time in four months. The president’s approval stands at 59 percent, which is down 12 percentage points from his wartime high of 71 percent and is now closer to his prewar and pre-9/11 ratings.

On Iraq, about the same number — 57 percent — approve of the president’s handling of the situation (35 percent disapprove), but less than half (47 percent) approve of how Bush is managing the economy (44 percent disapprove).

If the 2004 presidential election were held today, 42 percent would vote to reelect Bush, 31 percent for the Democratic candidate and 19 percent say it depends on the Democrat or it’s too soon to say. Support for reelecting Bush dropped nine points in the last month, with the shift toward the "depends/too soon to say" column instead of the nameless "Democratic candidate."

"The Democratic candidates are all still pretty much unknowns to the voters," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "It is clear, however, that many voters are at least willing to consider the idea of not voting for Bush. The trick for the Democrat will be to emerge as an acceptable alternative; the trick for Bush will be to define the Democrat who does emerge as an inferior alternative."

When asked if any Democratic presidential candidate could do a better job than Bush is doing on Iraq, 22 percent of voters say yes, 58 percent say no. Things are only slightly more positive for Democrats on managing the economy, with 32 percent of respondents saying a Democrat could do a better job than Bush is doing and 50 percent saying no.

On both questions, few of the respondents who say a Democrat could do better, are also able to volunteer a candidate’s name. Of those candidates mentioned as doing a better job on Iraq, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (search) is named most often at 11 percent, followed by New York Sen. Hillary Clinton (search) at nine percent, and former Vice President Al Gore (search) at seven percent.

As the Democrat who could do a better job than Bush on the economy, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is mentioned most frequently at eight percent, and close behind are Clinton and Gore both at seven percent.

There still is not much excitement for the field of Democratic contenders. At this stage in the presidential campaign, half of Americans (52 percent) are unable to give the name of a Democratic candidate they agree with the most and another 21 percent say "none." In fact, no candidate even receives double digits, with Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (search) capturing the top slot with seven percent, followed by Kerry (four percent), Clinton, Dean and Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt (search) (all at three percent).

And there’s not much change when looking only at self-identified Democrats — Lieberman, Kerry, Clinton and Dean each receive seven percent of voters saying they agree with them the most, with 50 percent of Democrats at this point in the campaign saying they "don’t know" which candidate they agree with on the issues.

Overall, the top issues that voters say will be "very important" to their vote in the next presidential election include the economy (83 percent), health care (76 percent), education (75 percent), Social Security (72 percent), terrorism (69 percent) and Medicare (66 percent).

The top three "very important" issues among Democrats are the economy (89 percent), health care (86 percent) and education (82 percent). Among Republicans the priorities are the economy (77 percent), terrorism (74 percent) and education (69 percent).

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Still Important To Find WMD In Iraq

As was the case in mid-April, a majority thinks it is important to the successful conclusion of the U.S. military action in Iraq to find evidence of weapons of mass destruction, however, the number saying it is "very important" has declined sharply. Today, just over a third (35 percent) think it is "very important" to find WMD compared to half (51 percent) who thought so in an April 22-23 poll.

Americans are intent on knowing the fate of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Fully 83 percent think it is important to find evidence of Saddam’s capture or death, with 59 percent saying it is "very important," up from 52 percent in the previous survey.

Despite the perceived importance of these achievements, slightly fewer Americans are confident these goals will ultimately be met. A majority (60 percent) is confident the U.S. will find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but only one in five is "very confident" evidence will be found. Similarly, 58 percent are confident Saddam will be captured or killed, but only 20 percent are "very confident."

The objective that garners the most optimism is helping Iraq "set up a stable government," with most (74 percent) saying they are confident the U.S. will be able to do accomplish this (36 percent "very" and 38 percent "somewhat" confident).

Half of Americans believe the United States going to war with Iraq was justified even if weapons are never found, while 12 percent think the war was justified only if the WMD are discovered and 27 percent think the war was not justified at all. Opinions are predictably partisan on this issue, as 78 percent of Republicans think the war was justified even without finding the Iraqi weapons compared to just 21 percent of Democrats.

Voters are almost evenly divided on the importance of the prewar intelligence about Iraq’s weapons programs. Nearly half (45 percent) think the questioning of the intelligence is a "minor issue being blown up" by Bush’s political opponents, compared with 41 percent who think it is a "major issue." Again, clear partisan differences are seen on this issue — 55 percent of Democrats think examining the prewar intelligence is a major issue while, conversely, 63 percent of Republicans call it a minor issue.

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Gay Marriage

By an almost two-to-one margin the public opposes allowing gay couples to "marry legally." Less than a third (32 percent) say homosexual couples should be able to marry while 58 percent say they should not.

Views on this issue vary dramatically by age, with young adults much more supportive of allowing gays to marry. Just over half (53 percent) of 18-34 year olds approve compared to one third or less in the age groups of 35 and older. In addition, Democrats (44 percent) and independents (31 percent) are more likely than Republicans (21 percent) to support allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Recently, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (search), R-Tenn., said he supports a constitutional amendment being drafted by members of Congress that would ban homosexual marriage.

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Polling was conducted by telephone July 15-16, 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. Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president?

Approve Disapprove (DK)
15-16 Jul 03 59% 32 9
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 60% 27 13
17-18 Jun 03 65% 25 10
3-4 Jun 03 66% 26 8
20-21 May 03 64% 26 10
6-7 May 03 65% 24 11

2. Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Bush is doing managing the economy?

Approve Disapprove (Don’t know)
15-16 Jul 03 47% 44 9
20-21 May 03 45% 45 10
8-9 Apr 03 48% 40 12
29-30 Jan 03 42% 48 10
3-4 Dec 02 47% 40 13
22-23 Oct 02 LV 48% 42 10

3. Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing handling the situation with Iraq?

Approve Disapprove (Don’t know)
15-16 Jul 03 57% 35 8
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 60% 30 10
22-23 Apr 03 71% 22 7
8-9 Apr 03 75% 19 6
25-26 Mar 03 69% 23 8
11-12 Feb 03 50% 38 12

4. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Tony Blair is doing as prime minister of Great Britain?

Approve Disapprove (Don’t know)
15-16 Jul 03 55% 11 34
11-12 Mar 03 60% 8 32

5. Do you believe the United States going to war with Iraq was justified:

1. Even if weapons of mass destruction are never found, 50%
2. Only if weapons of mass destruction are found, or 12
3. Was the war not justified at all? 27
4. (Not sure) 11

(For reference, 3-4 June 2003) Do you believe the United States going to war with Iraq was justified even if weapons of mass destruction are never found?

1. Yes 69%
2. No 24
3. (Not justified even if find weapons) 1
4. (Not sure) 6

6. Do you think there is any Democratic presidential candidate who could be doing a better job handling the situation with Iraq than President Bush is doing?

1. Yes 22%
2. No 58
3. (Not sure) 20

7. (If yes, n=200) Which Democratic candidate specifically are you thinking of? (OPEN ENDED)

(John Kerry) 11%
(Hillary Clinton) 9
(Al Gore) 7
(Bill Clinton) 6
(Howard Dean) 6
(Joe Lieberman) 5
(Dick Gephardt) 4
(John Edwards) 3
(Bob Graham) 3
(Al Sharpton) 2
(Joe Biden) 1
(Wesley Clark) 1
(Dennis Kucinich) 1
(Carol Moseley Braun) -
(All equally) 6
(Other – specify) 4
(None) 4
(Don’t know/Refused) 27

8. Do you think there is any Democratic presidential candidate who could be doing a better job handling the economy than President Bush is doing?

1. Yes 32%
2. No 50
3. (Not sure) 18

9. (If yes, n=290) Which Democratic candidate specifically are you thinking of? (OPEN ENDED)

(Howard Dean) 8%
(Hillary Clinton) 7
(Al Gore) 7
(Dick Gephardt) 5
(John Kerry) 5
(Joe Lieberman) 5
(John Edwards) 3
(Bill Clinton) 3
(Al Sharpton) 2
(Joe Biden) 1
(Bob Graham) 1
(Carol Moseley Braun) -
(Wesley Clark) -
(Dennis Kucinich) -
(All equally) 10
(Other – specify) 2
(None) 7
(Don’t know/Refused) 34

10. – 19. How important will each of the following issues be to your vote in the next presidential election? (ROTATE)
SCALE: 1. Very important 2. Somewhat important 3. Not very important 4. Not at all important 5. (Not sure)

Vry Smwht Ntvy Not (NS)
The economy 83% 14 1 1 1
Health Care 76% 20 2 1 1
Education 75% 21 3 1 -
Social Security 72% 21 5 1 1
Terrorism 69% 23 4 2 2
Medicare 66% 26 5 2 1
Foreign affairs 53% 37 7 1 2
Environment 49% 36 10 3 2
Iraq 48% 34 9 4 5
Abortion 40% 29 15 11 5

“Very Important” to Vote for President

Dem Rep Ind
Abortion 38% 44 38
The economy 89% 77 82
Education 82% 69 75
Environment 63% 35 54
Foreign Affairs 55% 53 48
Health Care 86% 65 76
Iraq 53% 47 44
Medicare 77% 55 66
Social Security 79% 61 72
Terrorism 65% 74 71

20. If the 2004 presidential election were held today, do you think you would be more likely to vote (to re-elect President Bush) or (for the Democratic candidate)? (ROTATE)
SCALE: 1. Re-elect Bush 2. Vote for Democrat 3. (Depends on Democrat/too soon to say) 4. (Not sure/Undecided)

Re-elect Bush Vote Dem (Depends) (NS)
15-16 Jul 03 42% 31 19 8
17-18 Jun 03 51% 30 11 8
22-23 Apr 03 47% 31 16 6
8-9 Apr 03 51% 26 15 8
25-26 Feb 03 42% 38 10 10
19-20 Nov 02 44% 21 27 8
9-10 Jan 02 49% 21 14 16

21. Which one of the Democratic candidates currently running for president in the next election do you agree with the most? (OPEN ENDED)

All Dem Rep Ind
(Joe Lieberman) 7% 7% 8% 6%
(John Kerry) 4 7 2 4
(Hillary Clinton) 3 7 - 2
(Howard Dean) 3 7 1 3
(Dick Gephardt) 3 4 3 2
(Joe Biden) 1 1 - 1
(John Edwards) 1 2 1 2
(Bob Graham) 1 1 1 1
(Dennis Kucinich) 1 1 - 1
(Al Sharpton) 1 - - 2
(Bill Clinton) - - - -
(Al Gore) - 1 - -
(Carol Moseley Braun) - 1 - -
(Wesley Clark) - - - -
(All equally) 1 1 1 3
(Other – specify) 1 1 1 -
(None) 21 9 35 18
(Don’t know/Refused) 52 50 47 55

22. - 23. How important do you think each of the following is to the successful conclusion of the U.S.-led military action in Iraq?
SCALE: 1. Very important 2. Somewhat important 3. Not very important 4. Not at all important 5. (Not sure)

Finding evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

Vry Smwht Ntvy Not (NS)
15-16 Jul 03 35% 32 19 12 2
22-23 Apr 03 51% 29 11 6 3

Finding evidence of Saddam Hussein’s capture or death?

Vry Smwht Ntvy Not (NS)
15-16 Jul 03 59% 24 9 6 2
22-23 Apr 03 52% 29 10 7 2

24. – 26. How confident are you that the U.S.-led coalition will:
SCALE: 1. Very confident 2. Somewhat confident 3. Not very confident or 4. Not at all confident 5. (Not sure) 6. (Already dead)

Vry Smwht Ntvy Not (NS) (Dead)
Find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? 20% 40 19 15 6 na
Capture or kill Saddam Hussein? 20% 38 20 14 7 1
Help Iraq set up a stable government?            
    15-16 Jul 03 36% 38 13 8 5 na
     8-9 Apr 03* 36% 41 12 5 6 na

*April 8-9, 2003 wording: “How confident are you that the U.S.-led coalition can successfully help Iraq set up a democracy?” (For reference, 20-21 May 2003) Do you think the United States will find evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction?

1. Yes 65%
2. No 25
3. (Already happened) 2
4. (Not sure) 8

27. In President Bush’s State of the Union speech he said, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” In this statement, do you think Bush was doing the right thing by disclosing it was British intelligence, or do you think he was trying to cover something up by saying it was British intelligence?

1. Doing the right thing 44%
2. Trying to cover up 29
3. (Not sure) 27

28. From what you've heard, do you think the questioning about the prewar intelligence about Iraq’s weapons programs is: (ROTATE)

1. A major issue, or 41%
2. A minor issue being blown up by President Bush’s political opponents? 45
3. (Not sure) 14

29. Do you think the United States should send troops to participate in peacekeeping activities in Liberia or not?

1. Should 35%
2. Should not 46
3. (Not sure) 19

30. (Dems only, n=321) In the next election, which one of the following will matter most in deciding your vote for president? The candidate’s:

1. Positions on the issues, or 60%
2. His or her ability to beat President Bush? 20
3. (Combination) 14
4. (Not sure) 6

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