CBS Poll: Politics As Usual

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
Voters often complain about negative political campaigns. But so far, at least, most voters don't find the campaigns in 2000 noteworthy for their negativity. Just 17 percent say the 2000 campaign is more negative than the 1996 one, and 57 percent say it is about the same as in previous years. However, 35 percent expect that it will get more negative as November nears.

Tone of 2000 Campaign
Compared to 1996

More negative 17%

More positive 22%

About the same 57%

The Primary Process

Perceptions of this year's primary campaign process are very similar to those found by a CBS News poll conducted in March 1996. Voters continue to have mixed feelings as to whether the primary process allows them adequate access to candidates or influence on the outcome, and they certainly feel that the process is too expensive and doesn't produce the best candidates:

  • Do the rimaries allow people to learn enough about the candidates? Maybe. Forty-six percent say they do, but 48 percent say they don't. And a third say that issues they care about are not being discussed by the candidates, including education, abortion, jobs, defense, gun control, taxes and oil costs.
  • Does the process give too much power to the first states to hold primaries? Forty-nine percent said yes, but 41 percent disagree. As would be expected, there are significant differences between voters in states that have already held primaries and those in states whose primaries have yet to be held. However, just half of those who still intend to vote in presidential primaries this year say their votes will matter.
  • Does the process cost too much? Absolutely, said 79 percent. In March 1996, when self-financed Steve Forbes was the major challenger to Bob Dole, 86 percent said yes.
  • Finally, does the primary system produce the best candidates? No, not at all. Just 29 percent said it does, while more than twice as many, 62 percent, said it does not.

Despite their grouchiness with the system, a majority of voters, 54 percent, say they will be satisfied choosing between Al Gore and George W. Bush in November. This is in contrast to the spring of 1992, when only a third said they were satisfied with the choice of Bill Clinton and then-President George Bush. That dissatisfaction led to the rise (and later fall) of Ross Perot and the Reform Party.

Satisfaction With Candidates

  Now May 1992
Satisfied 54% 36%

Want Other Choices 43% 60%

This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 1,221 adults interviewed by telephone March 19-21, 2000 There were 909 registered voters. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on both the total sample of adults and registered voters. For full question wording and poll findings, please contact the CBS Election and Survey Unit at 212-975-5554.