With the next presidential election about 18 months away, many Americans today think President Bush will be re-elected to a second term and, in head-to-head matchups, Bush bests the top Democratic contenders.
In the latest FOX News nationwide poll of registered voters, conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation May 6-7, a majority (61 percent) predicts Bush will be re-elected, while 20 percent think he will be a one-term president.
Republicans are confident in their party leader retaining his office, as fully 85 percent think Bush will be re-elected compared to only 38 percent of Democrats. Independents fall in between with 57 percent thinking Bush will win in 2004.
Who is the opponent Bush is expected to defeat? The Democratic Party officially kicked off its primary season last week with a debate among nine candidates in South Carolina. Among Democrats nationally, the poll finds Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (search) edges out the others to capture the top spot of those looking for that party’s nomination.
Lieberman leads the group with 19 percent, followed by Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt (search) (14 percent) and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (search) (12 percent). The most recent candidate to enter the race officially, Florida Sen. Bob Graham (search), receives four percent — about the same as former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (search) (five percent), North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (search) (five percent) and New York Minister Al Sharpton (search) (five percent). Former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (search) receives two percent followed by Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich (search) at one percent.
"People should remember that a year is a lifetime in politics," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "At this stage in 1992, Bill Clinton was barely a blip on the Democratic primary screen and then-President Bush was regarded as unbeatable because of his war victory. Things can change and change rapidly."
In hypothetical matchups, all of the Democratic candidates tested achieve about the same level of backing, with President Bush coming out on top by almost two-to-one.
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton (search) is not an announced presidential candidate, but there is continuing speculation about her running — if not in 2004, then possibly in 2008. The former first lady’s numbers are similar to those of the other Democratic contenders (Bush 60 percent to Clinton 30 percent). This represents a six percentage point gain for the New York senator — six months ago the numbers were Bush 59 percent and Clinton 24 percent.
When asked which Democrat would be toughest for Bush to defeat, Republicans and Democrats agree that candidate would be Joe Lieberman. This early in the campaign season, many voters are unsure which Democrat would be the strongest against the president, but as of today 24 percent of Republicans and 15 percent of Democrats say Lieberman.
Sentiment is split on the start of the next presidential campaign. Even though the last election went into overtime, about equal numbers of voters say they are looking forward to (42 percent) the start of the 2004 campaign as say they are dreading it (43 percent). Democrats are slightly more likely than Republicans to say they are looking forward to the 2004 campaign (48 percent and 43 percent respectively), and independents are the most likely to be dreading it (54 percent).
Polling was conducted by telephone May 6-7, 2003 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.
1. 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? (Well, to whom do you lean at this time?) (RANDOMIZE)
• Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt
• Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman
• Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry
• North Carolina Sen. John Edwards
• Former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun
• Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean
• New York Minister Al Sharpton
• Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich
• Florida Sen. Bob Graham
• (Someone else/Other)
• (Not sure)
• (Would not vote)
2. Which Democrat do you think would be the toughest opponent for President Bush to run against in 2004? (OPEN)
3. If the election for president of the United States were held today, for who 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)
4. For whom would you vote if the candidates were: (rotate order)
1. Republican George W. Bush 2. Democrat Joe Lieberman 3. (Not sure/Other) 4. (Would not vote)
5. For whom would you vote if the candidates were: (rotate order)
1. Republican George W. Bush 2. Democrat Dick Gephardt 3. (Not sure/Other)4. (Would not vote)
6. For whom would you vote if the candidates were: (rotate order)
1. Republican George W. Bush 2. Democrat Hillary Clinton 3. (Not sure/Other) 4. (Would not vote)
7. Would you say you are looking forward to the start of the 2004 presidential campaign or dreading it?
8. 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?