• Thinking Postitive on the Economy | War Was Right Thing To Do

Today less than half of voters think President Bush deserves to be reelected, but only one in four thinks the current field of Democratic hopefuls is "strong," and hardly any think the Democratic slate is "very strong." The military’s victory of tracking down and killing Saddam Hussein’s sons appears to have stopped the slippage in the president’s overall job performance rating, and a majority continues to think going to war with Iraq was "the right thing to do."

According to the latest FOX News national poll of registered voters, conducted July 29-30 by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, the president’s overall approval rating is holding steady from earlier in the month and currently stands at 59 percent approve and 31 percent disapprove. This is down from his wartime peak in early April when 71 percent of Americans approved and 20 percent disapproved of the job Bush was doing. Among Republicans, the president’s job approval is 87 percent, and while this is a very high rating it also represents the lowest rating from his party this year.

In addition, as the rally wanes, the president’s job rating for handling the situation with Iraq stands at 58 percent approval today, down from a high of 75 percent (April 8-9).

With Bush’s 47 percent "deserves reelection" number, it appears that some Americans approve of the job he’s doing even though they may not support him in the voting booth. Forty percent say the country would "probably be better off with someone else." While there are at least nine Democratic candidates vying for the chance to be that "someone else," just over half of Americans (53 percent) say that field of candidates is "weak."

Democrats and Republicans point to New York Sen. Hillary Clinton (search) as the toughest opponent for President Bush. Another familiar name mentioned as a tough Democratic opponent for Bush is former Vice President Al Gore (search) who — along with Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (search) and in addition to Clinton — are the most frequently mentioned "toughest" candidates. Respondents were asked to name the Democrat who would make the toughest opponent voluntarily, that is, without being read a list, and fully 62 percent responded "not sure" (or were unable) to name a Democratic candidate.

Over one-third (37 percent) say Clinton, who has said she will not run for the presidency in 2004, would be a stronger candidate against Bush than any who have announced they are running. And no gender gap exists here, as 38 percent of men and 36 percent of women say the former first lady would be stronger than anyone on the current slate.

In head-to-head match ups Bush leads every Democratic candidate tested by at least 17 points. Bush bests Clinton (52 percent to 35 percent), Kerry (54 percent to 35 percent), former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (search) (55 percent to 27 percent), Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (search) (52 percent to 33 percent), and Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt (search) (52 percent to 33 percent).

"It is important to remember that eventual winners like Jimmy Carter (search) and Bill Clinton were relatively unknown and polled weakly at this stage in their presidential campaigns," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "However, it is clear that many Democrats and others see familiar and 'proven' figures like Al Gore and Hillary Clinton as stronger candidates than the untested and, for the most part, unknown field."

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Thinking Positive on the Economy

The public appears slightly more positive about the future of the nation’s economy, with 47 percent of Americans saying, "worst is over" and 41 percent that "worst is yet to come."

A majority feels optimistic about the economy right now (22 percent "strongly" and 38 percent "somewhat" optimistic), while a third are pessimistic (13 percent "strongly" and 20 percent "somewhat"). These numbers are a small improvement from May of this year, but show a dramatic increase in optimism from February when only 40 percent said they were optimistic and just over half (52 percent) was pessimistic about the country’s economy.

Republicans are much more optimistic on the economy, with fully 80 percent saying they are optimistic compared to only 44 percent of Democrats (and 54 percent of independents).

The economy continues to far out rank all other issues as the priority for the federal government. Four in 10 say the economy is the most important issue right now, with the next closest item, health care, at 10 percent. All other issues come in at single digits, including national security (seven percent), terrorism (seven percent), education (five percent), Iraq (four percent) and Social Security (search) (four percent).

"These numbers present the Bush administration with a dilemma," comments Gorman. "It is clear that massive amounts of money and effort are going to be needed in Iraq, but the public has already lost interest. Only about one person in 10 now thinks either Iraq or terrorism should be the main focus. How then do they keep up support for spending a billion dollars a week in Iraq when the people want them focused on the economy here at home?"

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War Was Right Thing To Do

Most Americans believe the ace of hearts and the ace of clubs were taken out of the U.S. military’s deck of cards last week, but what about the Iraqi people? A large majority (82 percent) of Americans believes Uday and Qusay Hussein (search) were killed by U.S. troops, but only 40 percent think the Iraqi people believe Saddam’s sons are dead. About two-thirds (67 percent) agree that it was necessary for the United States to release photos of the corpses.

The deaths of Saddam’s sons, as well as reports that U.S. troops captured some of his bodyguards, has increased confidence in nabbing the former Iraqi leader himself. Today 70 percent are confident the U.S.-led coalition will capture or kill Saddam, compared with 58 percent two weeks ago.

The public is somewhat divided on which fate, capture and trial versus death, is best for Saddam. Nearly half (49 percent) think it would be better if the ace of spades is killed, while 40 percent think he should be captured and put on trial. Six percent say either is fine.

Catching Saddam is less crucial to some than helping Iraq to establish a new government. A 41 percent plurality thinks setting up a new government should be the U.S.’s top priority in Iraq, 25 percent think finding Saddam, while only 12 percent say finding the weapons of mass destruction should be most important. Another 19 percent volunteer "all" of these goals are equally important.

A 45 percent plurality thinks there will be fewer American soldiers in Iraq six months from now, but a third (34 percent) think there will be more and 13 percent say the same number of U.S. military forces will be stationed there.

The ongoing violence against U.S. soldiers does not appear to have changed the public’s mind about going to war with Iraq, as 65 percent — the same percent as one month ago — think it was the right thing to do. Those Americans who know someone sent to Iraq are more likely to think going to war was right than those who don’t know (69 percent to 61 percent).

Some Americans (20 percent) think the war with Iraq will serve as a deterrent to countries like North Korea and Iran and cause them to decrease their weapons programs, but over half (55 percent) think these countries will accelerate their weapons programs in response to the Iraq action.

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Polling was conducted by telephone July 29-30, 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)
29-30 Jul 03 59% 31 10
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

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

Approve Disapprove (Don’t know)
29-30 Jul 03 58% 32 10
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

3. What do you think is the most important issue for the federal government to address today? (DO NOT READ)

29-30 Jul 03 3-4 Jun 03
(Economy/Jobs/Unemployment) 40% 44%
(Health Care/Prescription Drugs) 10 10
(Defense/Military/Homeland/National Security) 7 9
(Terrorism – not Iraq) 7 7
(Education) 5 5
(War/Iraq/Saddam Hussein) 4 4
(Social Security/Medicare) 4 4
(Taxes) 3 2
(Foreign affairs/Mideast – not Iraq) 2 2
(Balanced budget/Deficit) 2 2
(Domestic issues/Take care of U.S.) 1 -
(Crime/Drugs) 1 -
(Environment/Energy) 1 -
(Iran) - -
(N. Korea) - -
(Other) 3 5
(Don't know/Refused) 9 6

4. Considering how President Bush has performed so far, do you think he deserves to be reelected or would the country probably be better off with someone else as president?

                              Deserves to be reelected

All Dem GOP Ind
29-30 Jul 03 47% 14% 81% 39%
22-23 Aug 01 36% 11% 72% 25%

                              Better off with someone else

All Dem GOP Ind
29-30 Jul 03 40 72 9 42
22-23 Aug 01 42 75 7 41

                              (Depends)

All Dem GOP Ind
29-30 Jul 03 8 9 5 12
22-23 Aug 01 13 9 14 20

                              (Not sure)

All Dem GOP Ind
29-30 Jul 03 5 5 5 7
22-23 Aug 01 9 5 7 14

5. Which Democrat do you think would be the toughest opponent for President Bush to run against in 2004? (OPEN) Toughest Opponent Summary (among all)

Clinton 11%
Gore 6
Kerry 6
Lieberman 5
Gephardt 3
Dean 3
Graham 1
Edwards 1
Sharpton -
Moseley Braun -
Kucinich -
Other 1
None 1
Not sure 62

                              (Hillary Clinton)

All Rep Dem Ind
29-30 Jul 03 11% 13% 11% 7%
6-7 May 03 8% 6% 10% 7%

                              (John Kerry)

All Rep Dem Ind
29-30 Jul 03 6 5 5 8
6-7 May 03 10 9 11 11

                              (Al Gore)

All Rep Dem Ind
29-30 Jul 03 6 5 7 4
6-7 May 03 5 4 8 4

                              (Joe Lieberman)

All Rep Dem Ind
29-30 Jul 03 5 7 4 5
6-7 May 03 17 24 15 9

                              (Howard Dean)

All Rep Dem Ind
29-30 Jul 03 3 2 4 3
6-7 May 03 1 - 2 2

                              (Dick Gephardt)

All Rep Dem Ind
29-30 Jul 03 3 3 3 3
6-7 May 03 11 10 10 12

                              (Bob Graham)

All Rep Dem Ind
29-30 Jul 03 1 1 3 -
6-7 May 03 4 4 4 7

                              (John Edwards)

All Rep Dem Ind
29-30 Jul 03 1 1 2 1
6-7 May 03 2 1 2 3

                              (Al Sharpton)

All Rep Dem Ind
29-30 Jul 03 - - - -
6-7 May 03 2 1 3 -

                              (Carol Moseley Braun)

All Rep Dem Ind
29-30 Jul 03 - - - -
6-7 May 03 1 - 1 1

                              (Dennis Kucinich)

All Rep Dem Ind
29-30 Jul 03 - - - -
6-7 May 03 - - - -

                              (Other – specify)

All Rep Dem Ind
29-30 Jul 03 1 1 2 2
6-7 May 03 1 - 1 2

                              (None)

All Rep Dem Ind
29-30 Jul 03 1 2 1 1

                              (Not sure)

All Rep Dem Ind
29-30 Jul 03 62 61 57 66
6-7 May 03 38 41 33 42

6. How would you rate the current field of Democratic presidential candidates – would you say it is a strong field of candidates or a weak field of candidates? Is that very (strong/weak) or only somewhat (strong/weak)?

All Dem Rep Ind
1. Very strong 6% 8% 5% 5%
2. Somewhat strong 18 27 11 19
3. Somewhat weak 29 30 29 27
4. Very weak 24 14 34 24
5. (Not sure) 23 22 21 26

7. Do you think Hillary Clinton would be a stronger candidate against President Bush than any of the current announced Democratic candidates?

All Dem Rep Ind
1. Yes 37% 47% 29% 36%
2. No 53 44 62 54
3. (Not sure) 10 9 9 10

8. Do you think there is any Democratic presidential candidate who could be a stronger leader than President Bush?

All Dem Rep Ind
1. Yes 34% 61% 8% 39%
2. No 46 20 74 39
3. (Not sure) 20 19 17 22

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

(Hillary Clinton) 14%
(Al Gore) 11
(John Kerry) 8
(Dick Gephardt) 7
(Joe Lieberman) 6
(Howard Dean) 5
(John Edwards) 2
(Bob Graham) 2
(Bill Clinton) 2
(Carol Moseley Braun) 1
(Al Sharpton) 1
(Dennis Kucinich) -
(Joe Biden) -
(Wesley Clark) -
(All equally) 13
(Other - specify) 3
(Don’t know/Refused) 25

10. If the election for president of the United States were held today, for whom would you vote if the candidates were: (rotate order) 1. Republican George W. Bush 2. Democrat John Kerry 3. (Not sure/Other) 4. (Would not vote)

Bush Kerry (NS/Other) (Would not vote)
29-30 Jul 03 54% 35 8 3
6-7 May 03 58% 29 11 2
17-18 Dec 02 57% 29 12 2

11. For whom would you vote if the candidates were: (rotate order)

1. Republican George W. Bush 55%
2. Democrat Howard Dean 27
3. (Not sure/Other) 15
4. (Would not vote) 3

12. For whom would you vote if the candidates were: (rotate order) 1. Republican George W. Bush 2. Democrat Dick Gephardt 3. (Not sure/Other) 4. (Would not vote)

Bush Gephardt (NS/Other) (Would not vote)
29-30 Jul 03 52% 33 12 3
6-7 May 03 56% 30 12 2

13. For whom would you vote if the candidates were: (rotate order) 1. Republican George W. Bush 2. Democrat Joe Lieberman 3. (Not sure/Other) 4. (Would not vote)

Bush Lieberman (NS/Other) (Would not vote)
29-30 Jul 03 52% 33 12 3
6-7 May 03 57% 31 10 2
17-18 Dec 02 56% 31 10 3
6-7 Aug 02 55% 30 14 1
6-7 Jun 01 53% 32 14 1

14. For whom would you vote if the candidates were: (rotate order) 1. Republican George W. Bush 2. Democrat Hillary Clinton 3. (Not sure/Other) 4. (Would not vote)

Bush Clinton (NS/Other) (Would not vote)
29-30 Jul 03 52% 35 10 3
6-7 May 03 60% 30 8 2
19-20 Nov 02 59% 24 16 1
6-7 Aug 02 58% 28 12 2
10-11 Jan 01 45% 34 21 -

15. Thinking about the condition of the national economy, do you think the worst is over or is the worst yet to come?

Over To come (Not sure)
29-30 Ju1 03 47% 41 12
20-21 May 03 43% 47 10

16. Would you say you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the U.S. economy right now? (If optimistic/pessimistic, is that strongly or only somewhat?)

  Optimistic Pessimistic  
TOT Strngly Smwht TOT Smwht Strngly (Neither/DK)
29-30 Jul 03 60% 22 38 33 20 13 7
6-7 May 03 58% 25 33 35 17 18 7
25-26 Mar 03 55% 21 34 36 20 16 9
11-12 Feb 03 40% 15 25 52 27 25 8
3-4 Dec 02 51% 20 31 41 28 13 8
26-27 Feb 02 66% 31 35 28 18 10 6
12-13 Dec 01 71% 33 38 24 16 8 5
3-4 Oct 01 71% 34 37 23 16 7 6
25-26 Jul 01 55% 22 33 37 22 15 8

17. Do you personally know anyone in the Armed Forces or National Guard who has been or is being sent to the Middle East for the military action in Iraq?

1. Yes, know someone who is being/has been sent 52%
2. No/(Not sure) 48

18. Do you think going to war with Iraq was the right thing for the United States to do or the wrong thing? Do you feel that strongly or only somewhat?
SCALE: 1. Strongly right 2. Somewhat right 3. Somewhat wrong 4. Strongly wrong 5. (Not sure)

  Right Wrong  
TOT Strngly Smwt TOT Smwt Strngly (Not sure)
29-30 Jul 03 65% 42 23 27% 10 17 8
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 65% 43 22 27% 9 18 8

19. Six months from now, do you think there will be more or fewer U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq than there are today? Is that a lot (more/fewer) or somewhat (more/fewer)?

1. A lot more 14%
2. Somewhat more 20
3. Somewhat fewer 34
4. A lot fewer 11
5. (Same) 13
6. (Not sure) 8

20. Do you believe Saddam Hussein’s sons are dead?

1. Yes 82%
2. No 9
3. (Not sure) 9

21. Do you think most of the Iraqi people believe Saddam Hussein’s sons are dead?

1. Yes 40%
2. No 39
3. (Not sure) 21

22. Do you think it was necessary for the United States to release photos of the dead bodies of Saddam Hussein’s two sons or not?

1. Necessary 67%
2. Unnecessary 28
3. (Not sure) 5

23. Which one of the following do you think should be the top priority for the United States in Iraq?

1. Finding Saddam 25%
2. Finding the WMD 12
3. Establishing a new government 41
4. (All/Equal) 19
5. (Other) 1
6. (Not sure) 2

24. How confident are you that the U.S.-led coalition will capture or kill Saddam Hussein?
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)
29-30 Jul 03 34% 36 17 8 5 -
15-16 Jul 03 20% 38 20 14 7 1

25. Do you think it would be better if Saddam Hussein is killed or would it be better if he is captured and put on trial?

1. Killed 49%
2. Captured 40
3. (Either) 6
4. (Not sure) 5

26. Do you think seeing the United States go to war in Iraq will cause countries like North Korea and Iran to increase or decrease their weapons programs?

1. Increase 55%
2. Decrease 20
3. (Neither/stay the same) 11
4. (Not sure) 14

27. California officials have received enough signatures demanding the recall of Governor Gray Davis that a special recall election has been scheduled for October. Based on what you know today, do you think California Governor Gray Davis should be recalled and removed from office or not?

1. Yes 27%
2. No 22
3. (Don’t know) 51

28. Regardless of what you think about the current situation in California, if a significant number of citizens support a recall, do you think that voters should be allowed to remove elected officials between regular elections or should they have to wait for regularly scheduled state elections?

1. Allow recalls between elections 54%
2. Wait for the regular election 30
3. (Not sure) 16

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