NEW YORK – As President George W. Bush’s 60-day Social Security (search) tour comes to an end, the latest FOX News poll finds that a large minority of the public is unclear on the voluntary nature of his personal investment proposal. In addition, the poll shows most Americans favor giving individuals the "right to choose" between keeping their Social Security contributions in the current system and putting a portion in an investment account, and just over half say they personally would want the choice to invest some of their contributions.
Though President Bush has talked about voluntary accounts, the new poll finds that while 57 percent of Americans understand the accounts would be voluntary, 27 percent believe they would be mandatory, and the remaining 17 percent are unsure.
Overall, fully 79 percent of the public think people under age 55 should have the right to choose between keeping all of their Social Security contributions in the current system and investing a portion of their funds. That support goes up to 84 percent among respondents under age 55.
On the personal level, 53 percent say they want the choice to invest a portion of their contributions, up from 48 percent in early February — soon after President Bush spoke in his State of the Union address about offering investment accounts. Among those under age 55, almost two-thirds (64 percent) want the option to invest.
More generally, when Social Security is not mentioned, most Americans say they trust themselves (77 percent) over the government (15 percent) when it comes to making retirement investment decisions.
Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News on April 25-26.
Abortion and Parental Consent
There is widespread support among Americans for laws requiring parental notification (search) and parental consent before females under age 18 can have an abortion. Over three-quarters (78 percent) of the public think young women should be required to notify at least one parent or guardian before having an abortion and 72 percent support requiring permission from at least one parent.
General views on abortion influence opinion on notification and consent laws. Overwhelming majorities of pro-lifers support parental notification (95 percent) and parental consent (93 percent). And though it is by much slimmer margins, majorities of those saying they are pro-choice also back parental notification (64 percent) and consent (55 percent). Today, nearly half (47 percent) of Americans identify themselves as pro-choice on the issue of abortion and 42 percent as pro-life.
Rating Political Leaders
President Bush’s job approval sits at 47 percent, with 43 percent disapproving. His approval rating is down 2 percentage points since last month (March 29-30) and down 5 points from his 52 percent approval rating at the beginning of the year. While approval among groups that have traditionally been strong supporters of the president — like men and Republicans — are holding fairly steady, Bush has lost ground with women and independents in the last few months.
"Americans are polarized by President Bush," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "While 84 percent of Republicans think he is doing a good job, 80 percent of Democrats disapprove. The smaller group of independents is split almost evenly. While specific events raise his ratings for a time, they always seem to go back to half of America on one side and half on the other."
The president’s approval rating is similar to the current ratings for Vice President Dick Cheney (43 percent approve, 40 percent disapprove) and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (44 percent approve, 40 percent disapprove). Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tops the ratings of her boss with 59 percent of Americans giving her job performance a thumbs-up.
Slightly more positive than his job rating, President Bush’s personal favorable rating is currently 52 percent (43 percent unfavorable).
Looking at some other names in the news, 21 percent of the public have a favorable view of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (search), 34 percent have an unfavorable view, 25 percent are unsure, and the remaining 20 percent say they have never heard of the Texas congressman.
It should be noted that on FOX News/Opinion Dynamics surveys the favorable/unfavorable question is used, in part, to test name recognition and therefore asks for the respondent’s opinion by stating just the name of the individual without citing honorifics or titles, and also asks the respondent to say if they have never heard of the person.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) receives a somewhat negative rating, with 16 percent of Americans saying they have a favorable opinion of him and 28 percent unfavorable, though over half are unable to say (21 percent "not sure" and 34 percent "never heard of").
Views are fairly evenly divided on New York Senator (and much-speculated 2008 presidential candidate) Hillary Clinton — 47 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion and 45 percent unfavorable. While fully 80 percent of Democrats have a favorable opinion of Sen. Clinton, positive opinion of President Bush among Republicans is even higher (92 percent).
Senator Clinton’s favorability rating is bested by her husband's. Former President Bill Clinton’s current favorable rating stands at 53 percent, which is about where it stood last summer (52 percent in June 2004), but his rating is trending upward. Two years ago, Clinton’s favorable rating was 47 percent (March 2003), and when he left office it was 45 percent.
• PDF: Click here for full poll results.