George W. Bush would handily defeat Bill Clinton if they were the major party candidates in 2004. In a hypothetical matchup between the current president and his predecessor, 53 percent say they would vote for Bush while less than a third (32 percent) say they would vote for Clinton, with six percent saying “neither." Of course, these two candidates are only imaginary opponents as the U.S. Constitution restricts Clinton from running for a third term.
But should the Constitution be changed? In a recent speech, former President Clinton commented that he thought the 22nd Amendment (search) to the Constitution “should probably be modified” to allow an individual to serve more than two terms as president. In the latest FOX News poll, conducted June 3-4 by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, most Americans oppose making such a change to the Constitution.
Only 20 percent of the public supports changing the 22nd Amendment, while the more widely held opinion (75 percent) is that the Constitution should not be modified to allow for a third presidential term. Partisanship is not an issue here, as Democrats and Republicans equally oppose allowing a third term. Men are slightly more opposed to making the change than women (78 percent and 73 percent respectively). Some of Clinton’s fellow baby boomers (age 51-59) are the strongest opponents at 82 percent.
In the hypothetical Bush-Clinton matchup, Republicans solidly support Bush (88 percent) compared to 62 percent of Democrats who say they would vote for Clinton. Almost a quarter (24 percent) of Democrats say they would vote for Bush while only seven percent of GOPers would vote for Clinton.
2004 Democrats Not Household Names
The new poll finds most of the 2004 Democratic presidential candidates remain largely unknown to the public. Being Al Gore’s vice presidential running mate in the 2000 election no doubt has helped Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (search) achieve the highest name recognition of the nine candidates, with over two-thirds able to rate him. Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt (search) and New York Minister Al Sharpton (search) are the only other candidates who also have better than 50 percent name recognition.
The least well known include former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (search) (71 percent cannot rate), former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (search) (76 percent cannot rate), North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (search) (70 percent cannot rate), Florida Sen. Bob Graham (search) (61 percent cannot rate) and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich (search) (83 percent cannot rate) — all of whom have sizeable majorities either unable to recognize their name or to offer an opinion of them.
Overall, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton (search) and Al Sharpton are the Democrats with the most negative public images, with both being rated unfavorably by just under half of the public.
Sen. Lieberman has the highest favorable rating (46 percent) of the candidates, and positive opinion of Lieberman also narrowly bests that of possible candidate Sen. Clinton (44 percent favorable). When looking at the ratings only among Democrats — they retain their spots as the two with the most positive public images, but Clinton soundly bests Lieberman (among Democrats: Clinton 70 percent favorable and Lieberman 55 percent).
Today, none of the Democratic hopefuls comes anywhere close to the 67 percent favorable rating (92 percent among Republicans) that President Bush currently enjoys.
Polling was conducted by telephone June 3-4, 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. LV = likely voters
1. 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
2. George W. Bush
3. John Edwards
4. Al Sharpton
5. Dennis Kucinich
6. Carol Moseley Braun
7. Dick Gephardt
8. Bob Graham
9. Laura Bush
10. Hillary Clinton
11. Dick Cheney
12. Joe Lieberman
13. John Kerry
14. Howard Dean
15. Do you support or oppose changing the constitution to allow a president to serve more than two terms?
16. If the constitution were changed and former President Clinton could run for president again, would you:
(for reference) If it were possible, would you want to see President Clinton elected to a third term, or do you think it's time for him to go?
*June 2000 and earlier: "Considering how well the economy is doing, his overall performance as president, and also acknowledging the scandals around him, if it were possible, would you want to see President Clinton elected to a third term?"
17. If the constitution were changed and former President Bill Clinton could run for president again, how do you think you would vote if he ran against President George W. Bush in 2004?