America Grows Impatient

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant tapes a scene with actor Jeremy Piven for the HBO series "Entourage" at the Staples Center before the Lakers basketball game against the Golden State Warriors Tuesday, April 11, 2006, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian
The recounts and court battles in Florida are taking a toll on the images of both Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore. Nearly half the public says they've lost patience with the delay, and a majority describes the controversy - though not necessarily the delay itself - as a big problem for the country.

Still, most Americans interviewed by CBS News on Sunday say the results of the hand counts should be included in the final total, although at this point they are divided on whether the final count - whatever it is - will be "fair and accurate." There continues to be a strong partisan reaction to the controversy.

A PROBLEM FOR THE COUNTRY?

Belief that the delay in knowing who has won the election is hurting the country has increased in the last week, though Americans are more concerned about the controversy surrounding the election than they are over the delay itself.

Two-thirds of the public thinks the controversy is a big problem for the country, a feeling shared by Bush voters and Gore voters alike. Just 31 percent don't describe the controversy that way.

CBSNEWS - New York Times Polls
IS FLORIDA VOTE CONTROVERSY A BIG PROBLEM FOR THE COUNTRY?

 TotalBush VotersGore Voters
Yes

66%

75%

64%


 TotalBush VotersGore Voters
No

31%

23%

33%

CBSNEWS Polls

But each campaign's supporters have different reactions to the delay in knowing who has won. A majority of Bush's voters say not knowing the winner is a big problem for the country, while a majority of Gore's voters disagree. Still, the total who say it's a significant problem has jumped from 35 percent to 46 percent in the last week.

In fact, nearly half the public says they have lost patience with the lack of resoluion, while just half say they are willing to wait longer. Gore voters are much more willing to have patience than are Bush supporters.

But patience (or the lack of it) seems dependent on how long people think the process will take. Most of those who think it will end this week say they have lost patience. Among the plurality who expect it to take a few more weeks, most say they have patience. Those who expect it to last longer than a few weeks are split.

CBSNEWS - New York Times Polls
HAVE YOU LOST PATIENCE WITH THE LACK OF RESOLUTION?

 YesWilling to wait

45%

50%

CBSNEWS Polls

COUNTING THE BALLOTS

Americans say the results of the hand counts taking place in Florida SHOULD be included in the official vote count, though there is strong opposition from those who voted for George W. Bush in the presidential election.

Fifty-nine percent of all adults say the hand counts - the subject of arguments Monday before the Florida Supreme Court - should be included. More than nine in ten of those who voted for Gore want to include them in the official count, hile just 21 percent of Bush voters agree.

Whatever the Court decides, many Americans are dubious about the accuracy of the final count in Florida. When asked if there will be a fair and accurate count in Florida when the election is finally settled, the public divides almost evenly, with 41% saying it will be fair, and 43 percent disagreeing.

CBSNEWS - New York Times Polls
SHOULD FLORIDA HAND COUNTS BE INCLUDED IN OFFICIAL VOTE TOTAL?

 YesNo

59%

36%

CBSNEWS Polls

Those who didn't vote in the election are more likely to foresee a fair and accurate count than are those who voted for either Bush or Gore. An identical 46 percent of those who voted for both major party candidates are dubious about the fairness and accuracy of the final outcome. Just 38 percent of both candidates' voters expect a fair count.

There is also a division about what voters in Florida actually intended to do when they cast their ballots on November 7. The public is as evenly divided as the current vote count: 41 percent say more voters in Florida intended to vote for Bush, who now has a nrrow lead in the count, but an equal percentage say more Florida voters intended to vote for Gore.

While most Americans are willing to admit the hand counts, they are not willing to let Palm Beach County vote again - another issue that may be argued in court. Support for a revote has shrunk in the last week. Now just 39 percent think there should be a new election in Palm Beach County, down from 46 percent last week.

THE CANDIDATES

Both Gore and Bush may emerge from this process with somewhat tarnished images, though at the moment the Vice President seems to have lost more than the Texas Governor.

Unfavorable images of both men have risen among registered voters since the election, while favorable impressions have remained about the same. On balance, voters like Bush more than Gore, as they have in nearly every poll throughout the past year. And when it comes to the way each has handled the post-election situation, the Gore campaign gets lower scores than the Bush campaign does.

There continue to be gender, income and racial differences in views of the candidates today, just as there were in the election itself.

A week ago, similar percentages approved of the way each campaign was handling the uncertain outcome of the election. Now, there is a more positive assessment of the Bush campaign. The Gore campaign's handling of the situation has deteriorated, and in fact, 50 percent now disapprove of its management of the situation. While opinion of the Bush's campaign's performance is divided, just 43 percent disapprove of it.

But when registered voters are asked who they would rather see as president now, given all that's happened since the election, they divide just as evenly as they did in the election, given the poll's margin of error. Forty-eight percent favor Bush, 46 percent Gore.

Despite it all, Americans still say it makes a difference who wins. Just 25 percent agree that it makes no difference who is elected president - things go on pretty much the same.

THE SECRETARY OF STATE

Americans are divided about the performance of Katherine Harris, who as Florida's Secretary of State has become one of the most visible state officials in the country. Forty-five percent approve of the way she is handling her job, while 42 percent disapprove. As might be expected, opinion of Harris is related to who people voted for – 79 percent of Bush voters approve of her management of the situation, 73 percent of Gore voters disapprove.

THE ONLY WINNER?

While Bush and Gore may have suffered a bit since the election in the public's mind, there is one national politician who has gained favor since the election. President Bill Clinton's approval rating has jumped to what is his highest approval rating in more than a year and a half.

Sixty-five percent of Americans now approve of the way Clinton is handling his job, up from 61 percent before the election. Throughout the past yer, his approval rating has been in the mid- to high-50s. Even conservatives, who normally give the president low ratings, are now as likely to approve of the president's job performance as to disapprove – 46 percent of conservatives approve of Mr. Clinton's job performance, while 45 percent disapprove.


This poll was conducted by telephone November 19, 2000, among 822 adults nationwide. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the entire sample, and four percentage points for registered voters. Sampling error for subgroups may be higher.