CBS Poll: The Lieberman Lift

Space shuttle Discovery on the launch pad at night, Dec. 7, 2006 AP

Vice President Al Gore's selection of Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman as his running mate, along with the attention he is receiving in the days before the Democratic Convention, may have cut into Texas Governor George W. Bush's 15-point post-convention lead in the race for president.


CBSNEWS - New York Times Polls
PRESIDENTIAL VOTE

 NowAugust 4-6
Bush

48%

50%


 NowAugust 4-6
Gore

38%

35%

CBSNEWS Polls

In call-back interviews conducted August 10 with the same voters who produced Bush's 15-point lead one week earlier, a CBS News poll found Bush's lead over Gore has narrowed: 48 percent of registered voters now support Bush, while 38 percent favor Gore.

Lieberman's first impression on voters has been generally positive; those who have formed an opinion of him like him and say he is qualified for the job. But his religion has also registered with voters. While most voters say his being Jewish won't affect their vote, there are some voters who would be happier to vote for someone of their own religion rather than a Jewish person, and one in ten are dubious that America is ready to elect a Jewish vice president.

With the naming of both running mates, voters have become somewhat more likely to admit the vice presidency will matter a great deal to their vote. Now, 30 percent say that - up from 15 percent before Bush named former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney as his party's vice presidential nominee.
CBSNEWS - New York Times Polls
RUNNING MATES' INFLUENCE ON THE VOTE

 NowAugust 4-6
Matters a great deal

30%

15%


 NowAugust 4-6
Doesn't matter

67%

81%

CBSNEWS Polls


EVALUATING LIEBERMAN

The news coverage of Tuesday's announcement that an Orthodox Jew would be on the Democratic ticket made voters very conscious of Lieberman's religion. Just two days after the announcement, three quarters of voters know that Lieberman is Jewish. That stands in stark contrast with 88 percent of voters who admit they have no idea of Republican vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney's religion. Just 8 percent correctly guess that Cheney is Protestant, and 2 percent say that Cheney is Jewish.

Voters' overall reaction to the naming of Lieberman is somewhat more positive than their reaction to Cheney two weeks ago. Forty-five percent are glad that Gore named Lieberman, while only 15 percent wish he had named someone else. Two weeks ago, 39 percent were glad that Cheney had been named, while 22 percent wished it had been someone else. But in both cases, eight in ten voters say their vote will not be affected by the pick.

Chene has an edge with voters on the question of experience - a trait that Bush highlighted in his announcement. When he was first named, 61 percent of voters said they believed Cheney had the right experience to be a good vice president. In the current poll, 54 percent say the same about Lieberman.

Both vice presidential candidates are viewed positively, though many voters have yet to form an opinion about either. In Cheney's case, about half have yet to form an opinion; for Lieberman, more than six out of ten can't yet give their opinion.

In a head-to-head contest, Cheney currently edges Lieberman: when voters are asked to choose only among the vice presidential candidates, Cheney leads 43 percent to 38 percent.

VOTING FOR A JEWISH CANDIDATE

Hardly any voters admit that they would not vote for a well-qualified Jewish candidate for president. The percentage that say they would vote for a Jewish person for president has risen from 37 percent in a 1937 Gallup Poll to 95 percent today.

But, as has been the case when similar questions have been asked about black candidates and women candidates, the public's evaluation of other voters is less positive. While nearly all voters say they personally would vote for a qualified Jewish candidate, only 57 percent say that America is ready to elect a Jewish president. There is more openness to a Jewish vice president, though 11 percent are still dubious.

While most voters say that a candidate's religion wouldn't make a difference to them, 12 percent of non-Jewish voters admit that, given a choice, they would probably vote for a candidate of their own religion over a Jewish candidate, all things equal.

LIEBERMAN AND THE CLINTON SCANDALS

Lieberman was the first Democratic Senator to publicly criticize President Clinton in the wake of the president's grand jury testimony about Monica Lewinsky. But how much can this selection help Gore separate himself from Clinton administration problems?

For most voters, the Clinton scandals do not affect their opinion of Gore: 62 percent of voters say their opinion of Gore has little or nothing to do with their opinion of the Clinton scandals.

But among those whose opinions are affected, Lieberman may help. One in four voters say their opinion of Gore has been affected "a lot" by Clinton administration scandals. And among these voters, half say the choice of Lieberman will help Gore distance himself. Another 16 percent say the scandals have affected their opinion of Gore "somewhat," and two-thirds of them think Lieberman will help.

EVALUATING THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

One potential impact of a vice presidential candidate is to change the public's view of the person at the top of the ticket. The impact of naming Lieberman on voters' views of Gore has been limited, but positive.

Asked explicitly how Lieberman affects their opinion of Gore, three out of four voters sait has no impact. But more than three times as many say it has a favorable effect as say the impact is unfavorable. And Gore's overall rating has risen ever so slightly - from 33 percent favorable in the days following the Republican Convention to 37 percent now, among these same respondents.

But at the same time, while Bush may have lost some of his large lead in recent days, he has lost little of his underlying popularity. More than twice as many voters hold a favorable view of Bush as hold a negative view.

One of George W. Bush's strengths in the campaign is that more voters view him as having strong qualities of leadership than view Gore that way. The Republican convention appears to have strengthened this perception.

In this poll, 73 percent of voters - more than at any time previously - describe Bush as having strong qualities of leadership, while just 51 percent see Gore that way. Both candidates, however, are equally likely to be viewed as wanting to unite people rather than divide them.



This poll was conducted by telephone August 10, 2000, among 503 registered voters previously interviewed August 4-6, 2000. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus four percentage points for results based on the entire sample.

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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