Only about half of Americans now think President George W. Bush will be reelected next year, a considerable drop from earlier surveys. The barrage coming from nine Democratic presidential contenders may, at least in part, have precipitated the decline.
In the latest FOX News national poll of registered voters, those believing President Bush will win in 2004 stands at 49 percent, down from 61 percent in May 2003 and 60 percent in April 2002. The decline was not only among Democrats, but also Republicans. Four months ago, 85 percent of Republicans thought Bush would be reelected, while 72 percent believe so now.
The poll, conducted September 9-10 by Opinion Dynamics Corporation (search), also finds that a majority thinks the Democratic presidential candidates are spending more time "attacking" President Bush and his policies (59 percent) than "explaining" their own policy positions (14 percent). Fully 79 percent of Republicans think the Democratic hopefuls are spending more time attacking, as do 49 percent of independents. Even Democrats are almost twice as likely to think their party’s candidates are doing more "attacking" (43 percent) than "explaining" (22 percent).
"Certainly the last few weeks have not been kind to the Bush campaign," comments Opinion Dynamics president John Gorman. "Iraq, the economy and the budget deficits have been big stories. And the Democratic candidates for president have seemed to grow more aggressive. Unlike the behavior of Democrats in 2002, when they were reluctant to attack President Bush, they now see vulnerability."
When asked which Democrat would win the party’s nomination, the top choice among Democrats, Republicans and independents was former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (search), followed by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (search). Even though New York Sen. Hillary Clinton (search) has said she will not run in 2004, as many voters think she will be the Democratic nominee as think (announced candidate) Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (search) will be. At this early stage, four months before the first primary election and 14 months before the general election, over half say they do not know which candidate will win the nomination.
Since last month, Kerry has gained four points and currently stands at 17 percent among Democrats when asked which candidate they would vote for if the primary were held today. That puts Kerry ever so slightly ahead of Lieberman (16 percent) and Dean (14 percent).
Polling was conducted by telephone September 9-10, 2003 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points.
1. How much attention are you paying to the 2004 presidential election?
2. Did you watch or listen to any of the Democratic presidential debate on (tonight/last night)?
3. Regardless of how you plan to vote, who do you think is going to be the Democratic presidential nominee? (OPEN)
4. 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)
• Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry
• Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman
• Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean
• Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt
• North Carolina Sen. John Edwards
• Former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun
• Florida Sen. Bob Graham
• New York Minister Al Sharpton
• Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich
• (Someone else/Other)
• (Not sure)
• (Would not vote)
5. So far, do you think the Democratic presidential candidates are spending more time (attacking President Bush and his policies) or more time (explaining what their own policies would be if they were to become president)? (ROTATE)
6. Regardless of how you plan to vote, do you think President Bush will win the 2004 election or not?
SCALE: 1. Yes, Bush will win/be re-elected 2. No, Bush will not win/be re-elected 3. (Depends/Too soon to say) 4. (Not sure)
*Wording: “President Bush has completed over half of his term in office. Based on what you know right now do you think he will be re-elected in 2004 or not?” For reference (16-17 April 02): Based on what you know right now, do you think President Bush will win re-election in 2004 or will the Democratic nominee win?