11/18/04 FOX Poll: Iraq Top Priority For Second Term

Overall, nearly six in 10 voters say they are satisfied with the results of this year’s presidential election, and voters cite the situation in Iraq as the issue that should top George W. Bush’s list of second-term priorities, according to a new FOX News poll.

A 56 percent majority says they are either very (43 percent) or somewhat (13 percent) satisfied with the outcome of the presidential race. Predictably, almost all Republicans (94 percent) are satisfied, as are 58 percent of independents, but that drops to 19 percent among Democrats.

In addition, an overwhelming majority of voters say they are proud of their vote for president, including 97 percent of Bush voters and 92 percent of voters that supported Democratic challenger John Kerry (search).

Opinion Dynamics Corporation (search) conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News on November 16-17.

Respondents were asked to name (without being read a list), which one issue should be President Bush’s top priority for his second term. A 39 percent plurality cited the situation in Iraq. The economy/jobs was mentioned by 19 percent and terrorism by 15 percent. No other issue receives double-digit mentions. The next highest topic is health care at 8 percent, with Social Security (search) cited by 3 percent and education by 1 percent.

“While President Bush got a bounce out of his electoral victory, the voters’ focus on Iraq suggests he will have to move quickly to get some positive news there,” comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman (search). “Even before the election, voters were just about evenly divided on whether it was more important to win the war or end it. If it drags on without positive signs of success, it is almost certain the president’s ratings will erode quickly.”

Job Ratings

President Bush’s overall job approval rating is up six points since polling conducted just prior to Election Day and currently stands at 53 percent approve and 40 percent disapprove. Vice President Dick Cheney (search) receives somewhat similar ratings: 50 percent approve and 38 percent disapprove.

Departing Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) receives the highest rating of Bush administration officials tested in the survey. Almost eight in 10 voters (77 percent) approve of the job Powell has done (14 percent disapprove). In the weeks following the September 11 terrorist attacks Powell’s approval rating went as high as 87 percent (October 2001). It was in April of this year that he received his lowest approval rating, although his lowest — 68 percent — was still extremely positive.

Powell announced his resignation on Monday and on Tuesday President Bush nominated National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice (search) as his replacement. Rice has a solidly positive job rating: 57 percent approve and 24 percent disapprove of her job performance as national security advisor. Likewise, 54 percent think Rice will make a good secretary of state, while 27 percent disagree.

As is the case with other administration officials, Rice received her highest approval rating, 61 percent, in the aftermath of 9/11. Her lowest marks came earlier this year (47 percent approve, April 2004) — around the time Rice gave testimony before the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks.

Attorney General John Ashcroft (search) also announced his resignation in the days following Bush’s reelection. Nearly half of voters (49 percent) approve of the job Ashcroft has done, 29 percent disapprove and more than one in five (22 percent) are unsure. Ashcroft’s highest approval rating — 69 percent — was achieved in November 2001, and his lowest approval was in April of this year (48 percent).

Twice as many voters approve as disapprove of the job Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge (search) is doing (52 percent and 22 percent respectively), although a quarter have no opinion.

And, finally, 46 percent currently approve of the job Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (search) is doing and 38 percent disapprove, making this his lowest approval rating to date.

U.S. Supreme Court

A 59 percent majority of voters say they are either very (39 percent) or somewhat (20 percent) comfortable with President Bush nominating the next justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. About a third are uncomfortable with Bush selecting the next justice, including 24 percent that say they are “not at all” comfortable. It is widely believed that President Bush will have the opportunity to nominate at least one justice during his second term.

Men are six points more likely than women to say they are comfortable with Bush selecting the next justice. Aside from Republicans, Southerners are among those most likely to approve (69 percent). Even 22 percent of Kerry voters say they are comfortable with Bush choosing the next Supreme Court nominee.

About four in 10 Americans were able to name which justice they most admire or with whom they agree most. At 13 percent, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (search) tops the list. She is followed by Justice Clarence Thomas (search) (8 percent), Chief Justice William Rehnquist (search) (6 percent), Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (search) (5 percent) and Justice Antonin Scalia (search) (5 percent). Respondents were not read the list of justices’ names for this question, and a majority (58 percent) were either unable to name their favorite or do not know the name of any justice.

Looking Ahead to 2008

For fun, voters were asked to look ahead and consider some hypothetical matchups for the 2008 race for the White House. The candidates included former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (search), New York Sen. Hillary Clinton (search), Arizona Sen. John McCain (search), North Carolina Sen., Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards (search) and Massachusetts Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Here are the highlights:

• Pdf: Click here for full poll results.