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Poll: A Big Bush Success

President George W. Bush's first address to Congress and the nation was received positively by those who experienced it, according to a CBS News poll of 978 adults selected randomly from across the country Tuesday night.

Of those polled, 88 percent of Americans who either watched or listened to the address say they approve of the proposals President Bush made in his speech. This support is fairly consistent with the support other presidents received after they addressed Congress.

In addition, immediately after the speech, most Americans express high expectations for President Bush and his proposals, and a majority now says he shares their priorities, a significant change from before the speech.

Does President Bush share your priorities
for the country?

  After Speech Before Speech
Yes 62% 47%

No 37% 51%

There were other improvements for Bush as well.
  • Fifty-four percent now think Bush will be in charge of his administration — a major improvement in the public's assessments since his Inauguration.
  • Sixty-eight percent think Democrats in Congress will work with Bush (although most don't think Congressional Democrats support Bush's programs).
  • Sixty percent say it is possible to preserve programs like Social Security and Medicare, and at the same time implement Bush's proposed $1.6 trillion tax cut.

    There are big differences between those who watched or listened to the speech and those who did not.

    Historically, supporters are more likely to watch a president's speeches. Viewers said Bush shared their priorities by 71 percent to 28 percent, while those who did not watch divide more evenly. Forty-three percent say he shares their priorities and 55 percent say he does not.


    Sixty-seven percent now favor the $1.6 trillion tax-cut plan — the centerpiece of President Bush's proposed budget package — while 31 percent oppose.

    There are party differences. Republicans favor the proposed tax cut by 94 percent to 6 percent, while Democrats oppose it by 52 percent to 46 percent.

    Given a choice of four of the proposals offered by Bush, the viewing public is most interested in his proposal to cut income taxes. Thirty-eight percent of viewers say they would like to see it happen in the coming year.

    Proposals on increasing Social Security/Medicare and education spending follow, chosen by 23 percent and 21 percent, respectively. Thirty percent of those who did not watch or listen to the speech chose tax cut.

    Overall, 35 percent of the public prefer the tax-cut proposal.

    CBSNEWS Charts

      Total Viewers Non-viewers
    Cut income taxes 35% 38% 30%

    Increase education spending 22% 21% 23%

    Pay down national debt 15% 16% 13%

    Social Security-Medicare 25% 23% 27%
    CBSNEWS Charts


    Moreover, 60 percent of Americans believe it is possible to preserve Social Security and Medicare and implement Bush's tax-cut proposal at the same time.

    There is sharp party division, however — Republicans say it is possible by 91 percent to 9 percent, while Democrats say it is not possible by 59 percent to 39 percent.


    The public is aware of the deep partisan division in Congress. Sixty-three percent say they don't think most Democrats in Congress favor Bush's programs, while 35 percent think they do.

    At the same time, however, Americans remain generally optimistic that Democrats will work with President Bush. Sixty-eight percent of Americans polled think Democrats in Congress will work with George W. Bush in order to get things done.


    One persistent problem for George W. Bush has been that he is not widely viewed as being in charge of his presidency. Tonight's speech to have helped changed that perception.

    Sixty-one percent of those who watched Bush's speech tonight now think Bush will be in charge of what goes on in his administration, while 39 percent say other people will really be running the country.

    In contrast, 60 percent of those who did not watch the speech say other people will be running the government, while only 40 percent say Bush will be in charge.

    This CBS News Poll was conducted online by Knowledge Networks among a nationwide random sample of 978 adults. This is a scientifically representative poll of the pblic's reaction to a major news event. Knowledge Networks, a Silicon Valley company, conducted the poll among a sample of adult members of its household panel, a nationally representative sample given access to the Internet via Web TV. The margin of sampling error could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the entire sample, and four points for results among those who viewed the speech.size>

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

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