Poll: High Marks For Bush

Texas Gov. George W. Bush not only has an overwhelming lead in the contest for the Republican Party nomination, but has established a generally favorable image with the American public. While Gov. Bush is now less often confused with his father, former President George Bush, he is still tied closely to him.

According to the new national CBS News Early Show poll, voters give Bush high marks on a number of presidential qualities, and Republican primary voters continue to give him a huge edge over his rivals for the GOP nomination.

REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CHOICE

  NOW 9/99
 

Bush 63% 60%

McCain 14 8

Forbes 6 4

Keyes 3 2

Hatch 1 1

Bauer 1 2

Nationally, Bush continues to far outpace his rivals for the Republican nomination, despite polls that suggest he is losing ground in Iowa and New Hampshire. Arizona Sen. John McCain has made substantial headway in the past few weeks, but Bush continues to lead him by over four-to-one. Sixty-three percent of likely Republican primary voters would like to see Bush win the nomination. Fourteen percent would like to see McCain win. Bush also continues to lead both Al Gore and Bill Bradley in general election contests.

NOT THE FORMER PRESIDENT

While a few people still confuse him with his father, for the most part George W. Bush has penetrated the American consciousness as the son of the former President.

When asked about the first thing that comes to mind when they hear his name, American adults overwhelmingly mention his familial connection to former President George Bush. Thirty-eight percent mention that he is the president's son, while 6 percent, down from 17 percent in June, give answers that indicate they think he is his father.

1ST THING THAT COMES TO MIND ABOUT GEORGE W. BUSH

  Now August June
 


Son of Former President 38% 33% 18%

Is the former President 6 12 17

Governor of Texas 5 7 7

IMAGE AND SUBSTANCE

Americans have a generally favorable impression of George W. Bush. Thirty-one percent of adults view him favorably, and 17 percent view him unfavorably. This overall favorable image of Bush may stem from the perception of him as presidential material. The public believes Bush has many of the qualities typically associated with the presidency: leadership, experience and an understanding of the job.

DOES GEORGE W. BUSH . . ?

/TR>
  YES NO
 

Understand problems Pres. deals with 71% 20

Have strong leadership qualities 67% 18

Have right kind of experience 62% 23

Seventy-one percent of adults nationwide say that Bush understands the complicated problems a president has to deal with, and 62 percent believe that he has the kind of experience that would make him a good President. On leadership qualities Bush also scores high: 67 percent of adults feel he has strong qualities of leadership. Here his bipartisan appeal remains strong - even a majority of Democrats say he has strong leadership qualities.

Bush appears to have connected with many people on a personal level as well. Fifty-two percent overall feel that he cares about needs and problems of people like themselves, while just 32 percent don't. Even Democrats and liberals are divided over whether he cares about them.

The news for Bush is not all good, however, as people also seem to view him as a typical politician. A 53 percent majority of adults say that Bush says what he thinks people want to hear, rather than saying what he really believes. In October of 1992, 63 percent of adults said that his father, President George Bush, was more likely to say what people wanted to hear.

SAYS WHAT HE BELIEVES OR WHAT PEOPLE WANT TO HEAR?

     
  George W. Bush
Now
George Bush
1992
 

What He Believes 32% 32%

What People Want to Hear 53 63

Gov. Bush's success as a politician may also affect the way Americans judge his honesty and integrity, an area where politicians often do particularly poorly. Forty-one percent think he has more honesty and integrity than most people in public life, but 38 percent think he does not.

DOES BUSH HAVE MORE HONESTY AND INTEGRITY THA MOST PEOPLE IN PUBLIC LIFE?


Yes 41%

No 38

One presidential area where Bush seems to fall short is on the issue of foreign policy. People are divided on how they feel about Bush's ability to deal wisely with international crises. Forty percent say they are confident in his ability, but 41 percent are uneasy about it.

PERSONAL BEHAVIOR: IS IT RELEVANT?

Twenty years ago, nearly half the potential voters said that candidates for president needed to be judged on both their political record and on their personal life. Nearly half the public still says that, despite the conventional wisdom that Americans may not want to measure their political candidates any more based on their personal lifestyles.

HOW SHOULD CANDIDATES BE JUDGED?

  NOW JULY, 1979
 

Political Record Only 52% 47%

Both Political Record and Personal Life 46 47

A slim 52 percent majority say that candidates should be judged only on their political qualifications, but 46 percent say that both personal decisions and experince are important.

Rumors about Bush's past could be especially harmful to his campaign for the nomination. Republicans care significantly more about candidates' personal lives than anyone else: 71 percent of Republicans say candidates should be judged on both the personal and political, compared to only 32 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of independents.

This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 1,065 adults, interviewed by telephone October 28-30, 1999. There were 901 registered voters in the sample. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus 3 percentage points for the sample of all adults and all registered voters. The sampling error could be plus or minus six percentage points for the sample of Republican primary voters.


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