Six Months Out, Race Still a Draw

By

Published May 05, 2004

| FoxNews.com

The polarized electorate continues, with support still divided between President George W. Bush and Mass. Sen. John Kerry (search) in the presidential race and opinion split on whether going to war with Iraq was the right thing for the U.S. to do, according to a Fox News poll released Thursday.

Six months before Election Day, President Bush receives the support of 44 percent of voters and Kerry 41 percent in the national poll of registered voters conducted for Fox News by Opinion Dynamics Corporation (search). The new results are within the poll's margin of error, as has been the case in Fox News poll head-to-head presidential matchups for more than two months.

Even with the continuing violence against U.S. troops in Iraq and new evidence of Iraqi prisoner abuse, support for the decision to go to war is unchanged from early April. Half of Americans think going to war was the right thing for the U.S. to do, while just over four in 10 think it was wrong.

The poll finds the president's job approval rating hovering in about the same spot since mid-February. Currently 49 percent of Americans approve and 43 percent disapprove of Bush's job performance. His personal ratings are similar, with 50 percent having a favorable view of the incumbent and 42 percent an unfavorable view.

Kerry's personal ratings have dipped, and he continues to be unknown to many Americans. Today, the public's impression of the senator is evenly divided (39 percent favorable and 40 percent unfavorable). A month ago it was 43 percent favorable and 35 percent unfavorable. Almost 20 percent are still too unfamiliar with Kerry to voice an opinion.

Voters say they think Bush would do a better job than his Democratic opponent in several key areas. Bush has a significant lead over Kerry on handling the war on terrorism (52 percent to 26 percent), and also tops him on handling the situation in Iraq (48 percent to 35 percent) and foreign policy (47 percent to 37 percent).

Kerry is chosen over Bush on who is best suited to handle Social Security (37 percent to 34 percent) and health care (41 percent to 34 percent). The candidates are virtually tied on the issues of the economy and education.

"While the overall vote has changed little, this survey has a number of warning signs for the Kerry campaign," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "The Bush negative advertising and the recent critical press scrutiny of some of his statements, seems to have hurt public perceptions of Kerry. Of course, this survey was being done just as the Iraq prison scandals were being reported. It is difficult to know what the long-term implications of these will be for the race — will voters rally around the administration or will they turn against it?"

The economy is the top issue for voters, with a 23 percent plurality saying it will be the most important issue in deciding their vote for president this year, followed by health care/Medicare (11 percent), homeland security (10 percent) and Iraq (10 percent).

Today about a third of Americans (31 percent) rate the nation's economy as either "excellent" or "good," 41 percent say the economy is "only fair" and about a quarter say "poor."  There are large partisan gaps in views on the condition of the economy, with 54 percent of Republicans rating the economy as either excellent or good compared to 28 percent of independents and only 12 percent of Democrats.

Looking down the road, a 55 percent majority thinks the economy will be doing better a year from now, which is more than twice as many as expect things will get worse (22 percent). Even so, this is a more pessimistic outlook than six months ago when 68 percent said the economy will get better next year and 18 percent said worse (December 2003).

The poll also rated the presidential candidates on several personal character traits. By 52 to 31 voters say Bush is a stronger leader, and Bush is also picked over Kerry as more knowledgeable on the issues (48 percent to 33 percent). The candidates tie on the question of which understands the average American better, with 14 percent of voters suggesting that neither does.

Some pundits believe that voters must like a candidate as a person to vote for him or her on Election Day. On this measure, Bush bests Kerry with 49 percent saying the president is a "more likeable person." In addition, 44 percent of voters say they would rather have Bush as their personal friend compared to 33 percent that pick Kerry.

War in Iraq

Today, half of the public believes going to war with Iraq was the "right thing for the United States to do," down from 58 percent six months ago and a high of 65 percent in July 2003.

A majority (55 percent) thinks the Iraqi people could be doing more to help the U.S.-led coalition in their efforts to bring stability to the country, and a 44 percent plurality thinks Iraq will be less stable after the June 30 transfer of power. Fully 72 percent think the United Nations should have "a lot" or "some" involvement in managing the upcoming transition of power in Iraq.

Less than half of the public has heard or read about the alleged scandal in the U.N.'s Oil for Food program (search), which was designed to provide humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein's regime. Of those familiar with corruption charges, almost all (88 percent) say the charges are believable (55 percent "very" and 33 percent "somewhat").

Polling was conducted by telephone May 4-5, 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. The subset of "Battlegrounds" includes the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, new Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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
4-5 May 04 50% 42 8 -
     Battlegrounds 48% 45 7 -
6-7 Apr 04 49% 44 7 -
23-24 Mar 04 50% 43 7 -
3-4 Mar 04 52% 40 8 -
4-5 Feb 04 56% 37 7 -

2. John Kerry

Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never
heard
4-5 May 04 39% 40 19 2
     Battlegrounds 41% 40 18 1
6-7 Apr 04 43% 35 19 3
23-24 Mar 04 43% 36 20 1
3-4 Mar 04 47% 28 20 5
21-22 Jan 04 43% 24 23 10

3. 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)
4-5 May 04 44% 41 13 2
     Battlegrounds 43% 42 13 2
21-22 Apr 04 43% 42 12 3
6-7 Apr 04 43% 44 12 1
23-24 Mar 04 44% 44 10 2
3-4 Mar 04 44% 44 11 1

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

Approve Disapprove (DK)
4-5 May 04 49% 43 8
     Battlegrounds 49% 44 7
21-22 Apr 04 50% 44 6
6-7 Apr 04 49% 44 7
23-24 Mar 04 47% 44 9
3-4 Mar 04 48% 44 8

5. In your everyday conversations with friends and neighbors, what topic would you say comes up most often these days? (OPEN ENDED)

—— 2004 —— 2003
4-5 May 3-4 Mar 21-22 Jan 3-4 Dec
Iraq/
Saddam Hussein
27% 9% 13% 18%
Economy/
Jobs/Employment
18 28 27 28
9/11 /Terrorism/
War on Terror
11 3 7 6
Politics/
Political issues
7 10 12 6
Family issues 6 7 7 6
Gas prices 6 - - -
Health Care 4 4 5 3
Religion/Bible 2 3 2 2
Sports 2 2 5 4
Current events/
World news
2 2 2 2
Education/
Schools
2 3 4 2
Taxes 1 2 2 1
TV/Entertainment 1 1 1 1
Local issues 1 4 3 3
Weather 1 3 2 3
Recreation 1 2 - 2
Middle East 1 1 1 -
Elderly/
Social Security
- 1 1 1
Drugs/Crime - - - 1
Stock market/
Finances/Money
- - 1 -

6. 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)
4-5 May 04 3% 28 41 26 2
     Dem 1% 11 46 41 1
     Rep 6% 48 35 8 3
     Ind 2% 26 41 30 1
18-19 Feb 04 3% 25 39 32 1
7-8 Jan 04 3% 31 42 22 2
18-19 Nov 03 2% 26 44 26 2
23-24 Sep 03 1% 17 42 39 1

7. A year from now, do you think the economy will be better or worse? Is that a lot (better/worse) or only a little (better/worse)?

—— Better —— —— Worse ——  
TOT Lot Little TOT Little Lot (Not
  sure)
(No
  change)
4-5 May 04 55% 19 36 22 12 10 19 4
     Dem 38% 10 28 34 17 17 23 5
     Rep 75% 31 44 8 6 2 13 4
     Ind 52% 16 36 22 13 9 20 6
3-4 Dec 03 68% 28 40 18 10 8 8 6
8-9 Apr 03 66% 27 39 18 10 8 11 5
11-12 Mar 03 49% 16 33 34 17 17 14 3
14-15 Jan 03 59% 15 44 26 14 12 10 5

8. – 15. Which candidate do you think would do a better job on the following issues?
SCALE: 1. George W. Bush 2. John Kerry 3. (Both) 4. (Neither) 5. (Not sure)

               ********** SUMMARY CHART **********

Bush Kerry (Both) (Neither) (NS)
The economy 41% 39 2 6 12
Education 42% 40 1 3 14
Foreign policy 47% 37 1 4 11
Health care 34% 41 2 8 15
The situation in Iraq 48% 35 1 6 10
Taxes 44% 37 1 5 13
The war on terrorism 52% 26 3 5 14
Social Security 34% 37 2 9 18

               PAST TREND:

               The economy

Bush Kerry (Both) (Neither) (NS)
4-5 May 04 41% 39 2 6 12
6-7 Apr 04 39% 44 2 4 11

               Education

Bush Kerry (Both) (Neither) (NS)
4-5 May 04 42% 40 1 3 14
6-7 Apr 04 38% 42 3 4 13

               Foreign policy

Bush Kerry (Both) (Neither) (NS)
4-5 May 04 47% 37 1 4 11
6-7 Apr 04 45% 37 2 3 13

               Health care

Bush Kerry (Both) (Neither) (NS)
4-5 May 04 34% 41 2 8 15
6-7 Apr 04 31% 47 2 5 15

               The situation in Iraq

Bush Kerry (Both) (Neither) (NS)
4-5 May 04 48% 35 1 6 10
6-7 Apr 04 47% 34 2 5 12

               Taxes

Bush Kerry (Both) (Neither) (NS)
4-5 May 04 44% 37 1 5 13
6-7 Apr 04 43% 40 1 4 12

               The war on terrorism

Bush Kerry (Both) (Neither) (NS)
4-5 May 04 52% 26 3 5 14
6-7 Apr 04 51% 33 3 3 10

               Social Security

Bush Kerry (Both) (Neither) (NS)
4-5 May 04 34% 37 2 9 18

16. Which one of the following issues will be most important to your vote for president?

4-5 May 04 18-19 Feb 04
The economy 23% 29%
Health care or Medicare 11 16
Homeland Security 10 8
Iraq 10 4
Terrorism 9 6
Education 8 10
Social Security 8 6
Foreign policy 7 3
Gay marriage 4 5
Taxes 2 4
(Not sure) 8 9

17. Who would you rather have as your personal friend: George W. Bush or John Kerry?

All Dem Rep Ind Men Women
1. Bush 44% 16% 83% 40% 47% 42%
2. Kerry 33 61 2 30 34 32
3. (Both) 2 2 1 3 2 3
4. (Neither) 14 12 9 22 12 15
5. (Not sure) 7 9 5 5 5 8

18. Who would you rather watch on television for the next four years: George W. Bush or John Kerry?

All Dem Rep Ind Men Women
1. Bush 42% 11% 81% 37% 45% 39%
2. Kerry 36 67 4 31 35 37
3. (Both) 1 1 1 2 1 2
4. (Neither) 14 14 8 23 13 15
5. (Not sure) 7 7 6 7 6 7

19. In general, do you think George W. Bush is honest and trustworthy?

Yes No  (Not sure)
4-5 May 04 53% 38 9
23-24 Mar 04 52% 40 8

20. In general, do you think John Kerry is honest and trustworthy?

Yes No (Not sure) 
4-5 May 04 45% 33 22
23-24 Mar 04 47% 28 25

21. – 29. Which presidential candidate (Bush or Kerry) do you think:
SCALE: 1. George W. Bush 2. John Kerry 3. (Both) 4. (Neither) 5. (Not sure)

Bush Kerry (Both) (Neither) (NS)
Is a more likeable person? 49% 30 6 5 10
Is more likely to raise your
taxes?
         
     4-5 May 04 25% 47 11 3 14
     6-7 Apr 04 31% 46 9 2 12
Will make the United States
a stronger country?
         
     4-5 May 04 49% 33 2 6 10
     6-7 Apr 04 43% 38 3 5 11
Is making unfair attacks on
the other?
         
     4-5 May 04 25% 25 26 6 18
     6-7 Apr 04 26% 24 29 7 14
Is a stronger leader?          
     4-5 May 04 52% 31 2 3 12
     6-7 Apr 04 48% 35 2 3 12
Is more knowledgeable on
the issues?
         
     4-5 May 04 48% 33 6 3 10
     6-7 Apr 04 45% 36 8 2 9
Is more likely to say and do
anything to get elected?
         
     4-5 May 04 34% 35 20 4 7
     6-7 Apr 04 35% 36 19 4 6
Understands the average
American better?
         
     4-5 May 04 38% 38 3 14 7
     6-7 Apr 04 36% 42 3 10 9
Is more likely to change
positions on the issues?
23% 53 10 2 12

30. Do you think most Democrats are happy with John Kerry as their party’s presidential nominee or do you think most Democrats wish they had selected someone else as their presidential nominee?

All Dem Rep Ind
1. Happy with nominee 46% 63% 28% 42%
2. Wish someone else
     had been selected
34 23 45 36
3. (Not sure) 20 14 27 22

31. Do you think most Republicans are happy with George W. Bush as their party’s presidential nominee or do you think most Republicans wish they had selected someone else as their presidential nominee?

All Dem Rep Ind
1. Happy with nominee 67% 52% 84% 67%
2. Wish someone else
     had been selected
20 33 7 18
3. (Not sure) 13 15 9 15

32. Do you think the upcoming Republican and Democratic political conventions are better described as (a waste of time and money) or are the conventions (an important part of the presidential candidate nominating process)?

All Dem Rep Ind
1. Waste of time and money 50% 46% 50% 60%
2. Important part of the process 32 36 31 23
3. (Mix) 12 11 11 15
4. (Not sure) 6 7 8 2

33. 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 strongly or only somewhat that it was (right/wrong) to go to war with Iraq?
SCALE: 1. Strongly right 2. Somewhat right 3. Somewhat wrong 4. Strongly wrong 5. (Not sure)

—— Right —— —— Wrong —— (Not
  sure)
TOT Strngly Smwt TOT Smwt Strngly  
4-5 May 04 50% 36 14 43% 10 33 7
6-7 Apr 04 50% 37 13 44% 10 34 6
3-4 Dec 03 55% 38 17 38% 13 25 7
14-15 Oct 03 58% 39 19 35% 12 23 7
9-10 Sep 03 62% 43 19 33% 12 21 5
29-30 Jul 03 65% 42 23 27% 10 17 8
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 65% 43 22 27% 9 18 8

34. Do you think most Iraqi people are working hard for their country’s stability and security or do you think Iraqis could be doing more to help the U.S.-led coalition achieve stability and security in Iraq?

1. Iraqis are working hard 19%
2. Iraqis could be doing more 55
3. (Some are, some are not) 10
4. (Not sure) 16

35. After the June 30 transfer of power, do you think Iraq will be more stable or less stable than it is now?

1. More stable 26%
2. Less stable 44
3. (Same) 13
4. (Not sure) 17

36. How much of a role do you think the United Nations should have in managing the political transition of power in Iraq?

1. A lot 41%
2. Some 31
3. Not much 9
4. None at all 13
5. (Not sure) 6

37. Have you heard or read about the charges of possible corruption in the United Nations’ Oil for Food program, which was designed to provide humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein’s regime?

1. Yes 45%
2. No 51
3. (Not sure) 4

38. (If yes on Q37) How believable do you find the charges of corruption regarding the United Nations’ Oil for Food program?

1. Very believable, 55%
2. Somewhat believable, 33
3. Not very believable, or 4
4. Not at all believable 2
5. (Not sure) 6

39. (If yes on Q37) If an investigation of the Oil for Food program finds that any senior U.N. officials are guilty of serious wrongdoing, do you think Kofi Annan should resign as secretary-general of the United Nations?

1. Yes 61%
2. No 25
3. (Not sure) 14

40. (If yes on Q37) The United Nations has vowed to get to the bottom of the alleged scandal, but is refusing to release most of the Oil for Food documentation. Do you think the United Nations should make all the Oil for Food documentation available to U.S. investigators?

1. Yes 86%
2. No 8
3. (Not sure) 6

41. Which one of the following will play the biggest role when deciding your travel plans this summer?

1. Gas prices, 38%
2. The threat of terrorist
    attacks, or
10
3. The condition of
     the national economy?
18
4. (Mixed/Combo) 7
5. (All) 3
6. (None) 20
7. (Not sure) 4

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2004/05/05/six-months-out-race-still-draw