CBS Poll: Bush Failing On Economy

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As the nation prepares to head into a presidential election year, a large majority of American voters believes the Bush administration has made at least some progress in making the nation safer from another terrorist attack, as well as in reducing taxes. However, most do not see much progress in the administration's efforts to create jobs and revitalize the economy, which most Americans say is in rough shape.


BUSH ADMINISTRATION: HOW MUCH PROGRESS IN...?
(Among registered voters)

Making U.S. Safer from terrorism
A lot
31%
Some
47%
Not Much/none
20%

Lowering your taxes
A lot
11%
Some
45%
Not much/none
40%

Improving the economy
A lot
4%
Some
44%
Not much/none
50%

Creating jobs
A lot
2%
Some
32%
Not much/none
62%

Nearly one-third of all voters say the Bush Administration has made a lot of progress in making the nation safer, and another 47 percent say it has made some. Even a majority of Democrats - who are quite critical of the Administration on other matters - give the Administration credit on this front, and 79 percent of independents say there has been progress.

Tax cuts have been at the top of President George W. Bush's policy agenda since he took office, and over half of voters say the Administration has made at least some progress in reducing their taxes. Yet only 11 percent say the Administration made a lot of progress in lowering their tax bill - including just 19 percent of Republicans who think so - and a sizeable 40 percent think the Administration hasn't made much headway in cutting their taxes at all.

Most voters (55 percent) say the national economy is in bad shape, and less than half think the Administration is making much progress in improving it; 50 percent say the Administration is not making much progress, or none at all. And the Administration gets low marks on its efforts to create more jobs: 62 percent of voters say it has made either not much or no progress at all toward doing so. Among Democrats and Independents this sentiment slips further still, as 79 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of Independents don't see the Administration making progress. The issue of jobs is a pressing concern, as 41 percent of American voters say they're at least somewhat worried about a possible job loss in their household.

No matter their assessment of the economy, most voters see its condition as at least somewhat linked to the policies of the Bush Administration.

HOW MUCH OF ECONOMY'S CONDITION IS DUE TO BUSH POLICIES?
(Among registered voters)
A lot
38%
Some
48%
Not much
8%
None at all
6%

The Administration is more likely to get blame for a bad economy than praise for a good one. Just over one-quarter of voters who think the economy is in good shape think the Bush Administration has had a lot to do with that, but nearly half (47 percent) of those who think the economy is in bad shape think the Administration shoulders a lot of the blame.

There are sharp partisan divides over how much progress the Administration has made in improving the economy - Republicans see progress being made, but Democrats - as well as independents - do not.

PARTISAN VIEWS: BUSH PROGRESS ON IMPROVING THE ECONOMY?
(Among registered voters)

A lot
Total
4%
Reps
10%
Dems
0%
Ind
2%

Some
Total
44%
Reps
67%
Dems
26%
Ind
38%

Not much
Total
24%
Reps
15%
Dems
30%
Ind
28%

None at all
Total
26%
Reps
7%
Dems
43%
Ind
28%

And when asked about whether the Administration had improved the environment, most voters said it had not made much progress in doing so, including just over one-third who said it had made none at all. Less than half of Republicans see any progress from the Administration, and nearly three-fourths of Democrats don't see any.

BUSH ADMINISTRATION: HOW MUCH PROGRESS IMPROVING THE ENVIRONMENT?
(Among registered voters)

A lot
2%
Some
33%
Not much
21%
None at all
34%

And these domestic issues figure to play a prominent role in Election 2004: 69 percent of voters say domestic issues will decide their vote next year, compared to 15 percent who say foreign policy issues will be decisive.

WHAT WILL DECIDE YOUR VOTE IN 2004?
(Among registered voters)

Foreign policy issues
15%
Domestic issues
69%
Both equally
15%

THE PRESIDENT AND COMPARISONS TO 1991
Overall, more Americans have a favorable opinion about George W. Bush than have a negative one - yet the President draws favorable ratings from less than half of voters. This is largely unchanged from ratings earlier this summer, and down substantially from the 64 percent favorable rating he received in the summer of 2002.

OPINION OF GEORGE W. BUSH

Favorable
Now
46%
7/2003
46%
7/2002
64%

Unfavorable
Now
32%
7/2003
32%
7/2002
21%

Undecided
Now
16%
7/2003
17%
7/2002
13%

Some political observers have compared the current President Bush's situation to the one his father, George H. W. Bush, faced in 1991, when the public came to believe the elder President Bush was focused more abroad than at home. In this regard, the current President Bush is doing somewhat better than his father. In October of 1991, a majority of Americans thought George H. W. Bush was spending too much time on foreign policy; today, 44 percent of Americans think that about his son.

IS GEORGE W. BUSH SPENDING HIS TIME...
George W. Bush
Now
Too much on foreign policy
44%
Too much on problems at home
2%
About right between the two
44%

George H.W. Bush
1991
Too much on foreign policy
58%
Too much on problems at home
1%
About right between the two
35%


For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.




This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 930 adults interviewed by telephone August 26-28, 2003. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the entire sample. The sample included 775 registered voters of which the margin of error could be plus or minus 4 percentage points.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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