Presidential Poll - Part 2

CBS News/New York Times poll graphic CBS/AP

THE STATE OF THE ECONOMY
One-third of Americans now cite the economy and jobs as the most important problem for the country today, far ahead of any other foreign or domestic problems.

COUNTRY'S MOST IMPORTANT PROBLEM
Economy and jobs 32%
War with Iraq 9%
Terrorism in general 8%
Education 4%
Family values 3%
Health care 3%
Foreign policy 3%

Overall, 56 percent of Americans say the national economy is in bad shape, unchanged since late April. Large majorities of Democrats and Independents say the economy is bad, while two-thirds of Republicans think the economy is good.

THE ECONOMY IS:
Good 43%
Bad 56

Just 24 percent of Americans think the economy is getting better, while 29 percent say it is getting worse, and 46 percent say the economy is staying the same.

When it comes to fixing the national economy, the public continues to disagree with the President on tax cuts, as has been the case since the beginning of this year. Six in ten Americans believe the antidote for the economy's ills is reducing the federal budget deficit, and not cutting taxes as has been President Bush's approach. This view finds support even among nearly half of Republicans: 46 percent of Republicans choose lowering the budget deficit over tax cuts as the better way to improve the economy, while 43 percent think the remedy is cutting taxes.

BETTER WAY TO IMPROVE THE ECONOMY
Cut taxes
All
28%
Rep.
43%
Dem.
20%
Ind.
23%

Reduce budget deficit
All
59%
Rep.
46%
Dem.
68%
Ind.
61%

In addition, almost nine in ten Americans now believe the U.S. budget deficit is a serious problem, with a majority saying it is very serious.

HOW SERIOUS IS THE COUNTRY'S CURRENT BUDGET PROBLEM?
Very serious
All
50%
Rep.
38%
Dem.
63%
Ind.
49%

Somewhat serious
All
36%
Rep.
42%
Dem.
30%
Ind.
38%

Not too/not at all serious
All
12%
Rep.
19%
Dem.
5%
Ind.
11%

Those who think the budget deficit problem is very serious tend to disapprove of Bush's job as President.

THE POLICIES OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION
Americans are not convinced the Administration's policies have worked so far on key issues such as jobs, education, prescription drugs and taxes. However, the public thinks the Administration's policies are having some success in combating terrorism and keeping an honest White House.

Negative:
51 percent think the policies of the current administration have decreased the number of jobs in the U.S., while just 12 percent think the number of jobs has increased. 29 percent say the policies of the Bush Administration have had no effect on the number of jobs in this country.

EFFECT ON JOBS: BUSH ADMINISTRATION POLICIES HAVE..
Increased jobs 12%
Decreased jobs 51%
Had no effect on jobs 29%

No effect:
Despite the passage of two tax cut packages during this administration, almost half of Americans (47 percent) say there's been no effect on their taxes, and more Americans (29 percent) say their taxes have gone up than say have gone down (19 percent).

While the Bush administration has said it intends to reduce the cost of prescription drugs and improve education, many Americans do not think the administration's policies have had an effect on either issue. A sizeable number say prescription drugs are more expensive, and as many Americans say the nation's schools have gotten worse as say schools have gotten better.

EFFECT OF BUSH ADMINISTRATION POLICIES ON:
Your taxes:
Made them go up 29%
Made them go down 19%
Had no effect 47%

Rx drugs:
Made them more expensive 35%
Made them less expensive 5%
Had no effect 39%

Nation's schools:
Made them better 23%
Made them worse 26%
Had no effect 41%

Positive:
The American public does give the current Administration credit for its terrorism policies. Six in ten Americans say those policies have made the U.S. safer from terrorism.

George W. Bush made a campaign promise to bring honesty and integrity to the White House. A sizable segment of the public - 35 percent -- thinks he has kept that promise. 43 percent think this Administration is no different when it comes to honesty and integrity than past administrations.

EFFECT OF BUSH ADMINISTRATION POLICIES ON:
Threat of terrorism:
Made U.S. safer 60%
Made U.S. less safe 18%
Had no effect 18%

Honesty & integrity at the White House:
Brought more 35%
Brought less 18%
Same as others 43%

Half of Americans say the tax cuts enacted since 2001 had no effect on the economy; and the other half are split as to whether the tax cuts have had a positive or negative impact. The number of people who say Bush's tax cuts have been bad for the economy, however, has gone up since earlier this year.

EFFECT OF TAX CUTS ON THE ECONOMY
Good for the economy
Now
24%
5/03
19%
1/02
28%

Bad for the economy
Now
20%
5/03
12%
1/02
13%

No effect
Now
50%
5/03
63%
1/02
56%

In his 2000 campaign President Bush called himself a compassionate conservative. Most Americans (62 percent) think his policies are about as conservative as they had expected them to be, 22 percent say Bush is less conservative and 13 percent think he is more conservative then they had expected.

60 percent of Americans say the policies of this administration favor the rich, 10 percent say they favor the middle class, and just 1 percent think they favor the poor. 26 percent say they treat all groups the same.

THE PRESIDENT AND REBUILDING IRAQ
The President has asked Congress for $87 billion to help rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan this year, but Americans say the President has still not laid out a clear plan for the rebuilding effort, nor explained how long U.S. troops will need to remain in Iraq.

A solid majority of Americans - 59 percent - still does not think the Administration has a clear plan for rebuilding Iraq, though more people believe this now than did two weeks ago.

DOES BUSH ADMINISTRATION HAVE A CLEAR PLAN FOR REBUILDING IRAQ?
Yes
Now
29%
Two weeks ago
22%

No
Now
59%
Two weeks ago
64%

Fewer than one in five Americans says the Administration has clearly explained what the total financial costs of rebuilding will be, or how long troops will need to stay in Iraq.

REBUILDING IRAQ: HAS THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION EXPLAINED...?
The total costs
Yes 16%
No 76%

How long troops will stay
Yes 17%
No 76%

And asked about that $87 billion request, 61 percent of Americans don't think it should be spent.

SHOULD U.S. SPEND $87 BILLION TO REBUILD IRAQ?
Yes 34%
No 61%

LOOKING BACK: EVALUATING THE WAR
Many Americans - 51 percent - still say removing the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was worth the costs of doing so, but this figure has slid from 65 percent in May, and is now the lowest it has been since major combat was declared over.

REMOVING SADDAM WAS...?
Worth the costs
Now
51%
8/2003
55%
5/2003
65%

Not worth the costs
Now
41%
8/2003
34%
5/2003
28%

For the first time since CBS News began asking the question this summer, Americans asked to evaluate the overall results of the war (not specifically the removal of Saddam) now say those results have not been worth the costs.

THE RESULTS OF THE WAR WERE...?
Worth the costs
Now
41%
Two weeks ago
43%
8/2003
46%

Not worth the costs
Now
53%
Two weeks ago
47%
8/2003
45%

Although the President declared major combat over in May, Americans overwhelmingly describe the war as still going on. 87 percent say it continues today, and just 10 percent describe it as "over."

THE WAR IN IRAQ IS...
Still going on 87%
Over 10%

Americans are about evenly split on whether the war has lasted longer than they expected, but two-thirds say it has cost more than they had expected it would.

THE WAR HAS LASTED...?
Longer than expected 45%
About as long as expected 40%
Shorter than expected 13%

THE WAR HAS COST...?
More than expected 66%
About as much as expected 26%
Less than expected 2%

Support for removing troops from Iraq is rising. 39 percent now say the U.S. should decrease the current troop levels there, up from 36 percent two weeks ago and 31 percent in August. One in five would increase current troop levels and 34 percent would keep them the same.

TROOP LEVELS IN IRAQ SHOULD BE...
Increased
Now
20%
Two weeks ago
15%
8/2003
22%

Kept the same
Now
34%
Two weeks ago
40%
8/2003
41%

Decreased
Now
39%
Two weeks ago
36%
8/2003
31%

SHARING THE COSTS
More than two-thirds of Americans think the United Nations - and not the United States - should have the lead role in setting up a new government in Iraq. This view has remained mostly unchanged since last spring.

WHO SHOULD HAVE LEAD ROLE IN BUILDING NEW GOVERNMENT IN IRAQ?
United States
Now
68%
8/2003
64%
4/2003
62%

United Nations
Now
26%
8/2003
26%
4/2003
29%

Although many nations have been hesitant to commit troops and resources to the U.S. effort in Iraq, Americans would exchange U.S. control over the effort for more international help in making it succeed: 65 percent would give other counties a major say in the rebuilding process in exchange for major financial contributions from them.

IF OTHER NATIONS PAY SOME REBUILDING COSTS ...
They should get a major say in decision-making 65%
U.S. should stay in control of rebuilding 28*

IRAQ AND TERRORISM
Most Americans still see the war with Iraq as part of the broader war on terrorism.

THE WAR WITH IRAQ WAS...
A major part of the war on terror
Now
47%
5/2003
51%

A minor part of the war on terror
Now
10%
5/2003
14%

Separate from the war on terror
Now
37%
5/2003
32%

In another section of the poll, Americans say they believe that the U.S. is safer due to the policies of the Bush Administration.

Although the President said recently that there is no evidence Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the September 11th, 2001 terror attacks, Americans are split over whether they think the former dictator was or was not a part of that plot: 43 percent say he was, 42 percent think he was not. The number of Americans suspecting Saddam's involvement is down from 52 percent in May.

WAS SADDAM PERSONALLY INVOLVED IN THE 9/11 ATTACKS?
Yes
Now
43%
5/2003
52%
9/2002
51%

No
Now
42%
5/2003
38%
9/2003
33%

Americans say that removing Saddam - not removing his weapons - was the main reason that the U.S. went to war with Iraq. 46 percent say that removing the dictator was the primary rationale for the war, as opposed to 17 percent who say that stopping Iraq's weapons program was the main reason. One-quarter say the main reason was to protect the U.S. oil supply.

THE PRESIDENT'S POLITICAL BASE
In the presidential election of 2000, much of George W. Bush's political base was comprised of the conservative political movement known as the religious right. According to this poll, they still support him strongly.

83 percent of those whites who consider themselves a member of the religious right approve of the overall job the president is doing, compared to half - 52 percent - of white Americans who do not consider themselves part of the religious right. Bush's approval rating is also high among those whites that describe themselves as evangelical or born again Christians; 71 percent approve of the overall job he is doing as president.

Whites who belong to the religious right movement are more likely to say removing Saddam Hussein from power was worth the costs of attacking Iraq. 74 percent say removing Saddam was worth the costs, compared to just 53 percent of whites who are not part of the religious right. Religious right members are also more likely to believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the attacks of September 11th, 2001.



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


This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 981 adults interviewed by telephone September 28-October 1, 2003. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the entire sample.
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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