Even as the president’s approval drops back to pre-war levels and gloomy views on the economy continue, George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney (search) top a Democratic ticket of former Vice President Al Gore (search) and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton (search ) in a hypothetical matchup.

According to the latest FOX News national poll of registered voters, conducted August 12-13 by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, a Republican ticket of Bush and Cheney would beat a Gore-Clinton ticket by 50 percent to 39 percent. As both Gore and Clinton have said they will not run in 2004, this is an imaginary matchup of well-known Democrats against the incumbents.

Men are 20 points more likely to support the Bush-Cheney ticket, while women are more evenly divided between the two tickets (46 percent for Bush-Cheney and 42 percent for Gorje-Clinton). Fully 89 percent of Republicans say they would vote for their party’s ticket, compared to 78 percent of Democrats who say they would vote Gore-Clinton. Almost half of independents (48 percent) say they would vote Bush-Cheney, a third (32 percent) for the Democratic ticket, and 12 percent say “neither.”

Other than Gore’s running mate in the 2000 election, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (search), most of the announced 2004 Democratic candidates remain unknown to voters. Lieberman has the highest name recognition of the nine hopefuls, and even after being on the cover of two national magazines almost two-thirds (65 percent) of Americans have no opinion of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (search) (more than four in 10 say they have “never heard of” the candidate). However, Dean is making inroads — his name recognition improved the most among the Democratic slate and is up 11 points since June.

Those same magazine covers that Dean graced last week are now focused one of the newly announced Republican candidates in the California recall election Arnold Schwarzenegger, who not surprisingly has high name recognition and a 55 percent favorable rating (nationally).

And while President Bush’s 61 percent favorable rating is higher than even Schwarzenegger’s, today’s rating represents a five-point decline from two months ago.

Opinion of Candidates in the News

Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
George W. Bush 61% 32 7 -
Arnold Schwarzenegger 55% 23 21 1
Al Gore 47% 43 9 1
Joe Lieberman 42% 28 18 12
Dick Gephardt 30% 27 22 21
John Kerry 22% 21 23 34
Howard Dean 19% 16 23 42
Bob Graham 17% 20 25 38
John Edwards 14% 12 22 52
Al Sharpton 13% 45 16 26
Carol Moseley Braun 11% 16 17 56
Dennis Kucinich 6% 12 15 67

In the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Lieberman maintains a narrow lead over the rest of the pack. Among Democrats, 18 percent support Lieberman, followed closely by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (search) (13 percent), Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt (search) (12 percent) and Dean (11 percent). In the last two months, Dean made the largest gains of the bunch — jumping seven points.

"The vast majority of the people are simply not paying much attention to politics, yet," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "While the punditocracy has devoted days and days to dissecting someone like Howard Dean, two-thirds of America has yet to have an opinion."

The list of contenders is rounded out by Rev. Al Sharpton (search) at five percent, former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (search) (four percent), North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (search) (three percent), Florida Sen. Bob Graham (search) and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich (search ) (each at two percent)

At 57 percent, President Bush’s approval rating appears to be continuing its gradual decline —  down two points from July and 14 points from his wartime high. In addition, 34 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Bush is doing as president — the highest disapproval rating he has received since his term began.

The president receives his highest approval ratings from Republicans (90 percent), dads (76 percent), self-described conservatives (75 percent), people age 35-50 (65 percent) and men (62 percent).

The president is on a one-month working vacation, spending most of August at his ranch in Texas. A majority of the public (57 percent) believes it’s a good idea for the president to “get out of Washington” for the month, while 33 percent think it’s too long for Bush to be away.

In making comments about the United States action in Iraq on the 100th day after major combat ended there, the president said, “We’ve made good progress. Iraq is more secure.” Just over half of Americans (54 percent) agree with the president’s statement, and 38 percent disagree. A strong partisan divide exists on this issue, with 81 percent of Republicans agreeing with the statement compared to 60 percent of Democrats who disagree. It should be noted that respondents were asked about their feelings without being told who had made the statements.

And the public’s grim perceptions on the national economy continue, with fewer than one in five rating the economy as “excellent” or “good” and more than eight in 10 saying conditions are either “fair” or “poor.” The number of Americans rating the nation’s economy as “poor” increased from 31 percent in early June to 43 percent today.

Of all demographic groups, Republicans are the most likely to rate the economy positively. While 30 percent of Republicans rate conditions positively, only four percent of Democrats and 11 percent of independents feel that way.

The Bush administration may be relieved to hear that few Americans think the president controls the nation’s economy. A 25 percent plurality thinks “regular business cycles” have the greatest impact on the economy, with 13 percent saying the Federal Reserve Board (search), 13 percent saying Congress and 13 percent saying the president. Another 24 percent think it is a combination of these, and five percent say consumers control the economy.

On a less positive note for an incumbent hoping to be reelected, half of Americans know someone who has been unemployed and looking for a job for at least six months.

Polling was conducted by telephone August 12-13, 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

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

1. George W. Bush

Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
12-13 Aug 03 61% 32 7 -
17-18 Jun 03 66% 26 8 -
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 -

2. Al Gore

Favorable Unfavorable Can’t say Never heard
12-13 Aug 03 47% 43 9 1
3-4 Dec 02 42% 45 13 -
22-23 Oct 02 LV 37% 50 13 -
6-7 Aug 02 51% 38 11 -
16-17 Apr 02 44% 44 11 1
12-13 Dec 01 47% 40 13 -

3. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
12-13 Aug 03 55% 23 21 1

4. Joe Lieberman

Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
12-13 Aug 03 42% 28 18 12
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

5. John Kerry

Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
12-13 Aug 03 22% 21 23 34
3-4 Jun 03 28% 19 19 34
14-15 Jan 03 25% 16 20 39

6. Howard Dean

Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
12-13 Aug 03 19% 16 23 42
3-4 Jun 03 12% 12 20 56
14-15 Jan 03 7% 8 18 67

7. Dick Gephardt

Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
12-13 Aug 03 30% 27 22 21
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
12-13 Aug 03 17% 20 25 38
3-4 Jun 03 22% 17 24 37

9. John Edwards

Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
12-13 Aug 03 14% 12 22 52
3-4 Jun 03 17% 13 21 49
14-15 Jan 03 17% 10 23 50

10. Al Sharpton

Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
12-13 Aug 03 13% 45 16 26
3-4 Jun 03 14% 45 15 26
14-15 Jan 03 10% 46 16 28
22-23 Aug 01 15% 42 15 28

11. Carol Moseley Braun

Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
12-13 Aug 03 11% 16 17 56
3-4 Jun 03 13% 16 17 54

12. Dennis Kucinich

Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
12-13 Aug 03 6% 12 15 67
3-4 Jun 03 8% 9 13 70

Summary

Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
George W. Bush 61% 32 7 -
Arnold Schwarzenegger 55% 23 21 1
Al Gore 47% 43 9 1
Joe Lieberman 42% 28 18 12
Dick Gephardt 30% 27 22 21
John Kerry 22% 21 23 34
Howard Dean 19% 16 23 42
Bob Graham 17% 20 25 38
John Edwards 14% 12 22 52
Al Sharpton 13% 45 16 26
Carol Moseley Braun 11% 16 17 56
Dennis Kucinich 6% 12 15 67

13. Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president?

Approve Disapprove (DK)
12-13 Aug 03 57% 34 9
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

14. In August, President Bush will be vacationing and working from his Texas ranch. Do you think it's a good idea for the president to get out of Washington for the month of August, or do you think a month is too long for the president to be out of Washington?

Good idea Too long (Not sure) 
12-13 Aug 03 57% 33 10
6-7 Aug 02 55% 36 9
22-23 Aug 01 52% 40 8

15. Congress has gone on vacation for the month of August. Do you think this will have a positive effect on the country or a negative effect on the country?

Positive Negative (No difference) (Not sure)
12-13 Aug 03 21% 38 30 11
6-7 Aug 02 24% 37 31 8
11-12 Aug 99 21% 27 40 12
6-7 Aug 97 26% 27 38 9

16. On a scale of excellent, good, only fair and poor, how would you rate economic conditions today?
SCALE: 1. Excellent 2. Good 3. Only fair 4. Poor 5. (Not sure)

Exclnt Good Fair Poor (NS)
12-13 Aug 03 1% 15 40 43 1
3-4 Jun 03 1% 19 48 31 1
8-9 Apr 03 1% 20 47 30 2
11-12 Mar 03 1% 13 41 44 1
14-15 Jan 03 1% 12 46 40 1
8-9 Oct 02 LV 5% 20 44 30 1

17. In general, which one of the following do you think has the greatest impact on the national economy? (RANDOMIZE)

1. The President 13%
2. The Congress 13
3. The Federal Reserve Board 13
4. Regular business cycles 25
5. (Public/consumers) 5
6. (Combination) 24
7. (Not sure) 7

18. Do you personally know anyone who has been out of work and actively looking for a job for six months or more?

1. Yes, I have been/Self 8%
2. Yes, know someone else 42
3. No/(Not sure) 50

19. Are you currently working outside your home for pay?

1. Yes 56%
2. No 44
3. Not sure -

20. (If yes, n=502) If you were to lose your job, how long do you think it would take you to find another job of similar pay and responsibility?

1. A couple of weeks 28%
2. A couple of months 27
3. About 6 months 12
4. More than 6 months 21
5. (Won’t happen to me) 5
6. (Not sure) 7

21. Do you generally agree or disagree with the following statements about the job the United States is doing in Iraq: "We've made good progress. Iraq is more secure"?

All Dem Rep Ind
1. Yes, generally agree 54% 33% 81% 49%
2. No, generally disagree 38 60 12 42
3. (Not sure) 8 8 6 9

22. I'm going to read you a list of names of some possible candidates for the Democratic nomination for president in the next election. If a 2004 Democratic primary for president were held today, which ONE of the following candidates would you most likely vote for? (If not sure: Well, to whom do you lean at this time?) (RANDOMIZE)

Summary Among
    Democrats (n=347)
Lieberman 18%
Kerry 13
Gephardt 12
Dean 11
Sharpton 5
Moseley Braun 4
Edwards 3
Graham 2
Kucinich 2
(Else/Other) 5
(Not sure) 22
(Would not vote) 3

      Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman

Dem Ind
12-13 Aug 03 18% 15%
17-18 Jun 03 15 20
6-7 May 03 19 13
25-26 Feb 03 15 13
14-15 Jan 03 29 28

      Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry

Dem Ind
12-13 Aug 03 13% 7%
17-18 Jun 03 15 16
6-7 May 03 12 12
25-26 Feb 03 10 10
14-15 Jan 03 13 17

      Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt

Dem Ind
12-13 Aug 03 12% 8%
17-18 Jun 03 7 10
6-7 May 03 14 7
25-26 Feb 03 16 13
14-15 Jan 03 15 8

      North Carolina Sen. John Edwards

Dem Ind
12-13 Aug 03 3% 3%
17-18 Jun 03 5 3
6-7 May 03 5 6
25-26 Feb 03 6 4
14-15 Jan 03 8 8

      Former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun

Dem Ind
12-13 Aug 03 4% 2%
17-18 Jun 03 3 1
6-7 May 03 2 3
25-26 Feb 03 5 1

      Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean

Dem Ind
12-13 Aug 03 11% 7%
17-18 Jun 03 4 4
6-7 May 03 5 2
25-26 Feb 03 4 2
14-15 Jan 03 2 2

      Rev. Al Sharpton

Dem Ind
12-13 Aug 03 5% 3%
17-18 Jun 03 2 2
6-7 May 03 5 2
25-26 Feb 03 4 3
14-15 Jan 03 5 2

      Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich

Dem Ind
12-13 Aug 03 2% -%
17-18 Jun 03 2 3
6-7 May 03 1 2
25-26 Feb 03 2 1

      Florida Sen. Bob Graham

Dem Ind
12-13 Aug 03 2% 7%
17-18 Jun 03 5 4
6-7 May 03 4 5

      (Someone else/Other)

Dem Ind
12-13 Aug 03 5% 11%
17-18 Jun 03 8 9
6-7 May 03 3 12
25-26 Feb 03 5 10
14-15 Jan 03 8 11

      (Not sure)

Dem Ind
12-13 Aug 03 22% 31%
17-18 Jun 03 33 23
6-7 May 03 29 28
25-26 Feb 03 33 43
14-15 Jan 03 20 24

      (Would not vote)

Dem Ind
12-13 Aug 03 3% 6%
17-18 Jun 03 1 5
6-7 May 03 1 8

23. In the 2004 presidential election, let’s say the Republican ticket is President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney versus a Democratic ticket of former Vice President Al Gore for president and New York Senator Hillary Clinton for vice president. If the election were held today, which ticket would you support?

All Men Wmn Dem Rep Ind
1. Bush – Cheney 50% 55% 46% 13% 89% 48%
2. Gore – Clinton 39 35 42 78 6 32
3. (Neither) 5 5 5 3 2 12
4. (Not sure) 6 5 7 5 4 7