Published March 25, 2004
The stalemate continues as President George W. Bush and Mass. Sen. John Kerry (search) are still in a dead heat in the latest Fox News poll, but a plurality expects Bush will win the upcoming election.
After several days of the Bush administration being harshly criticized by a former staffer, as well as two weeks of heavy and hard-hitting advertising by both campaigns, this week’s Fox News poll shows no movement in the vote for president. Bush and Kerry each capture the support of 44 percent of voters in a head-to-head matchup, if the presidential election were held today. Earlier in the month the race was also tied at 44 percent each.
When independent candidate Ralph Nader (search) is included he receives three percent, Bush 43 percent and Kerry 42 percent. Nearly half of voters (45 percent) say they have been paying "a lot" of attention to this year's presidential election and another 39 percent say "some" attention. By a margin of 43 to 36 percent voters think Bush will win in November.
Both Bush and Kerry are seen by more as being honest and trustworthy than not, and in general, both are viewed more positively than negatively. Bush has a 50 percent personal favorable rating and Kerry’s stands at 43 percent. It should be noted that many voters are still getting to know the Democratic challenger and one in five are unable to give an opinion of him.
In the days prior to and during the survey, there was considerable media coverage of former counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke’s (search) newly released book claiming the Bush administration mismanaged the war on terror. Many Americans say they have heard about Clarke’s criticisms of the administration and, of those familiar with his accusations, just over half (52 percent) find them believable.
Public opinion today is more divided on the success of the country’s efforts to fight terrorism than it was previously. Currently 41 percent think the U.S. and its allies are winning the war against terror and 44 percent disagree. Six months ago a majority (55 percent) believed the U.S. was winning the war against terrorism.
Almost half of Americans (49 percent) think the war on terror is as important today as it was just after 9/11 and another four in 10 think it is more important today. In addition, over six in 10 think it is likely terrorists will try to influence the outcome of this year’s presidential election with a major attack on U.S. soil later this year.
A 65 percent majority approves of the Bush administration’s response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and by almost two-to-one Americans continue to support the U.S. having taken military action against Iraq.
The poll finds voters think Bush would do a better job of protecting the nation from terrorist attacks than Kerry (50 percent to 27 percent). Kerry is seen as the candidate who would do better at protecting and creating jobs in the U.S. (48 percent to 31 percent).
Sixty-two percent believe unemployment is a big problem right now, while 31 percent believe Democrats are trying to politicize the jobs issue by making it seem like a bigger problem than it is. A plurality (43 percent) believes the current unemployment rate is higher than the average for the last 30 years, although the current rate of 5.6 percent is actually lower than the long-term average.
By a small margin more Americans say they are better off today than they were four years ago (40 percent better off, 35 percent worse off), and voters are split on whether the country’s economy is recovering (45 percent to 48 percent). There is a large partisan gap on this issue as 73 percent of Republicans say the economy is recovering compared to only 22 percent of Democrats.
As voters gear up for eight months of campaigning, more than twice as many say they are "dreading it" as say they are "looking forward to it." That feeling of dread may in part be caused by the tone of the campaigning to date, which more Americans describe as "rude and disrespectful" (40 percent) than as "polite and respectful" (29 percent).
"I'm personally dreading this election year," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman, "because it seems likely we're going to be repeating the same headline over and over again. About 45 percent of the people seem committed to President Bush and a like number are committed to replacing him with Senator Kerry. Since the voters for each candidate have negative views of the other, they aren't likely to even listen to the other side's campaign. This means a close election all the way to the end with each side trying to persuade the tiny number in the middle."
Over a third (37 percent) think the Kerry campaign has been the most negative so far, while 29 percent think the Bush campaign has and 19 percent think the campaigns have been equally negative. A majority of voters (61 percent) say if the campaign of the candidate they support gets too negative it would not make a difference, while 15 percent say they would vote against that candidate and 11 percent would then not vote at all.
Polling was conducted by telephone March 23-24, 2004, 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
|23-24 Mar 04||50%||43||7||-|
|3-4 Mar 04||52%||40||8||-|
|4-5 Feb 04||56%||37||7||-|
|21-22 Jan 04||54%||39||7||-|
|18-19 Nov 03||55%||39||6||-|
2. John Kerry
|23-24 Mar 04||43%||36||20||1|
|3-4 Mar 04||47%||28||20||5|
|21-22 Jan 04||43%||24||23||10|
|28-29 Oct 03||27%||26||22||25|
|12-13 Aug 03||22%||21||23||34|
3. If the election for president of the United States were held today, for whom would you vote if the candidates were: (ROTATE)
SCALE: 1. Republican George W. Bush 2. Democrat John Kerry 3. Independent candidate Ralph Nader 4. (Not sure/Other) 5. (Would not vote)
|23-24 Mar 04||43%||42||3||10||2|
|18-19 Feb 04*||43%||42||4||9||2|
*Wording: ”Green Party candidate Ralph Nader”
4. 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)
|23-24 Mar 04||44%||44||10||2|
|3-4 Mar 04||44%||44||11||1|
|18-19 Feb 04||45%||45||9||1|
|4-5 Feb 04||47%||43||9||1|
|21-22 Jan 04||49%||42||8||1|
5. 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 Massachusetts Senator John Kerry for president and North Carolina Senator John Edwards for vice president. If the election were held today, which ticket would you support?
SCALE: 1. Republican ticket, Bush-Cheney 2. Democratic ticket, Kerry-Edwards 3. (Neither) 4. (Not sure)
|23-24 Mar 04||43%||48||2||7|
|3-4 Mar 04||45%||45||2||8|
6. What if the Democratic ticket is Senator John Kerry for president and New York Senator Hillary Clinton for vice president versus a Republican ticket of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney? If the election were held today, which ticket would you support?
SCALE: 1. Republican ticket, Bush-Cheney 2. Democratic ticket, Kerry-Clinton 3. (Neither) 4. (Not sure)
|23-24 Mar 04||47%||42||4||7|
|3-4 Mar 04||47%||42||4||7|
7. What if the Democratic ticket is Senator John Kerry for president and Senator John Edwards for vice president versus a Republican ticket of President George W. Bush and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani? If the election were held today, which ticket would you support?
|1. Republican ticket, Bush-Giuliani||45%|
|2. Democratic ticket, Kerry-Edwards||44|
|4. (Not sure)||8|
8. What if the Democratic ticket is Senator John Kerry for president and Senator Hillary Clinton for vice president versus a Republican ticket of President George W. Bush and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani? If the election were held today, which ticket would you support?
|1. Republican ticket, Bush-Giuliani||47%|
|2. Democratic ticket, Kerry-Clinton||42|
|4. (Not sure)||7|
9. Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president?
|23-24 Mar 04||47%||44||9|
|3-4 Mar 04||48%||44||8|
|18-19 Feb 04||48%||41||11|
|4-5 Feb 04||53%||41||6|
|21-22 Jan 04||53%||39||8|
10. Regardless of how you plan to vote, who do you think will win the 2004 presidential election – George W. Bush or John Kerry?
|3. (Depends/Too soon to say)||13|
|4. (Not sure)||8|
(ROTATE NEXT TWO QUESTIONS) 11. In general, do you think John Kerry is honest and trustworthy?
|3. (Not sure)||25|
12. In general, do you think George W. Bush is honest and trustworthy?
|23-24 Mar 04||52%||40||8|
|14-15 Oct 03*||64%||31||5|
|30 Jun-1 Jul 03||69%||25||6|
|11-12 Jul 01||69%||20||11|
|28-29 Jun 00||57%||26||17|
*Oct 2003 and earlier: “…think President Bush is…”
13. Do you approve or disapprove of how the Bush administration handled the country’s response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks?
|23-24 Mar 04||65%||28||7|
14. Retired national security official Richard Clarke recently released a book in which he criticizes the Bush administration’s handling of the war on terrorism. Have you heard or read anything about Richard Clarke’s criticism of the Bush administration?
|3. (Not sure)||2|
15. (If yes, n=580) Do you find Richard Clarke’s accusations to be very believable, somewhat believable, not very believable, or not believable at all?
|1. Very believable||23%||48%||3%||17%|
|2. Somewhat believable||29||32||23||38|
|3. Not very believable||18||4||32||16|
|4. Not believable at all||18||1||33||17|
|5. (Not sure)||12||15||9||12|
16. Do you believe the U.S. economy is recovering or not?
|3. (Not sure)||7||4||8||7|
17. Are you better off or worse off financially today than you were four years ago?
|1. Better off||40%||21%||62%||35%|
|2. Worse off||35||52||15||38|
|4. (Not sure)||1||2||1||1|
18. Have you received or do you expect to receive a raise in pay this year?
|1. Yes, have received||13%|
|2. Yes, expect to receive||26|
|4. (Not sure)||4|
|5. (Not employed)||15|
19. As far as you know, is the current unemployment rate, higher, lower or about the same as the average for the last 30 years?
|3. About the same||20||15||28||14|
|4. (Not sure)||15||12||18||15|
20. Do you believe Democrats are trying to make the nation’s current unemployment rate seem like a bigger problem than it really is for political reasons, or do you believe there really is a big unemployment problem in the country right now?
|1. Democrats are trying to make
unemployment seem like a big
|2. Unemployment really is a big
|3. (Not sure)||7||6||6||10|
21. How much attention have you been paying to this year’s presidential election?
SCALE: 1. A lot of attention 2. Some attention 3. Not much attention 4. No attention at all 5. (Not sure)
|A lot||Some||Not much||None||(NS)|
|23-24 Mar 04||45%||39||13||3||-|
|9-10 Sep 03*||31%||35||24||9||1|
*Wording: “…are you paying to the 2004 presidential…”
22. Of the following, where do you get most of your information about the presidential candidates?
|1. Newspaper coverage
of the campaign
|2. Television coverage
of the campaign
|3. Campaign advertisements
|4. Conversations with friends
|5. Candidate debates||2|
|6. The Internet||5|
|7. (Somewhere else)||4|
|9. (Not sure)||-|
23. Would you say you are looking forward to the next eight months of presidential campaigning or dreading it?
|1. Looking forward to it||27%|
|2. Dreading it||61|
|3. (Not sure)||12|
24. How would you characterize the tone of the presidential campaign so far — would you say the candidates and their campaigns have been:
|1. Generally polite and respectful, or||29%||35%||26%||24%|
|2. Generally rude and disrespectful?||40||33||48||41|
|4. (Not sure)||6||7||4||5|
25. Which presidential campaign do you think has been the most negative so far – (the Kerry campaign) or (the Bush campaign)? (ROTATE)
|3. (Both equal)||19||19||13||29|
|5. (Not sure)||11||12||7||13|
26. Please tell me which of the following statements you agree with more:
|1. Negative ads are a legitimate campaign
tool and can provide useful information
on a competitor’s record, or
|2. Negative ads are inappropriate and usually
provide misleading information about the
|5. (Not sure)||3|
27. If the campaign of the presidential candidate you are currently supporting gets too negative, are you more likely to vote against that candidate, not vote at all, or do you not think it would really make a difference?
|1. Vote against candidate||15%|
|2. Not vote at all||11|
|3. Not make a difference||61|
|4. (Depends/Not sure)||13|
28. Which candidate do you think would do a better job of protecting the United States from terrorist attacks: George W. Bush or John Kerry? (ROTATE)
|3. (Not sure/Other)||23||27||11||32|
29. Which candidate do you think would do a better job of protecting and creating jobs in the United States: George W. Bush or John Kerry? (ROTATE)
|3. (Not sure/Other)||21||16||20||31|
30. Do you think the war against terrorism is more important, less important or equally important today compared to just after September 11?
|1. More important||41%||36%||46%||42%|
|2. Less important||7||11||3||6|
|3. Equally important||49||48||50||48|
|4. (Not sure)||3||5||1||4|
31. Do you support or oppose the United States having taken military action to disarm Iraq and remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein? Is that strongly (support/oppose) or only somewhat (support/oppose)?
|23-24 Mar 04||61%||45||16||32||12||20||7|
|21-22 Jan 04||66%||48||18||28||11||17||6|
|18-19 Nov 03||66%||50||16||30||10||20||4|
|23-24 Sep 03||64%||47||17||30||12||18||6|
|22-23 Apr 03||76%||61||15||20||9||11||4|
|8-9 Apr 03*||81%||68||13||16||6||10||3|
|25-26 Mar 03*||78%||66||12||18||8||10||4|
*Wording: “… United States taking military…”
32. How likely do you think it is that there will be a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil later this year to try to influence the outcome of the presidential election?
|1. Very likely||23%|
|2. Somewhat likely||38|
|3. Not very likely||17|
|4. Not at all likely||11|
|5. (Not sure)||11|
33. Do you think the capture of Usama bin Laden would increase or decrease the terrorist threat to the United States? Is that significantly (increase/decrease) or only somewhat (increase/decrease)?
|1. Significantly increase||13%|
|2. Only somewhat increase||18|
|3. Only somewhat decrease||22|
|4. Significantly decrease||18|
|5. (No difference)||21|
|6. (Not sure)||8|
34. As of right now, do you think the U.S. and its allies are winning the war against terrorism?
|23-24 Mar 04||41%||44||15|
|9-10 Sep 03||55%||33||12|
|3-4 Jun 03||57%||29||14|
|19-20 Nov 02||37%||42||21|
|8-9 Sep 02||36%||43||21|
35. As you may know, serious allegations have recently been made of corruption in the "oil-for-food" program the United Nations administered during Saddam Hussein's last years in power. If it is found that Saddam pocketed or used billions of dollars intended to feed the Iraqi people to pay off high-level U.N. officials, do you think Kofi Annan should resign as secretary-general of the United Nations?
|3. (Don't believe the charges)||2|
|4. (Not sure)||29|
36. Do you support or oppose an outside organization conducting an independent investigation of the U.N. management of the oil-for-food program?
|3. (Not sure)||16|
37. Since the recent Madrid train bombing, Spain’s prime minister has said he will pull Spanish troops out of Iraq unless the United Nations takes control of military operations there. If Spain does withdraw its troops from Iraq, do you think it means they are caving into the terrorists or not?
|1. Yes, caving to the terrorists||47%|
|2. No, not caving||40|
|3. (Not sure)||13|
38. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: The Iraqi people are better off today because of the military action taken in Iraq by the U.S.-led coalition. Is that strongly or just somewhat (agree/disagree)?
|1. Strongly agree||48%|
|2. Somewhat agree||26|
|3. Somewhat disagree||9|
|4. Strongly disagree||8|
|5. (Not sure)||9|
39. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Setting up a democracy in Iraq will make the world safer from terrorism. Is that strongly or just somewhat (agree/disagree)?
|1. Strongly agree||28%|
|2. Somewhat agree||25|
|3. Somewhat disagree||16|
|4. Strongly disagree||18|
|5. (Not sure)||13|
40. Which do you think is more important – for the United States to be well- liked by other countries around the world or to be respected by other countries around the world?
|5. (Not sure)||2|