Published on Monday, January 19, 2004 by the Agence France Presse
Bush Popularity Rate Dips to 50 Percent, US Electorate Split
President George W. Bush's approval rating has dipped to 50 percent, and the US electorate is evenly split heading into the 2004 presidential election year, a new poll has found.
Given a choice between Bush and an unnamed Democratic candidate, 43 percent would vote for Bush and 45 percent would vote for the Democrat, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll published Sunday.
Former Vermont governor Howard Dean was the top choice for Democratic Party presidential nominee, with 24 percent support, versus 12 percent for retired general Wesley Clark, 11 percent for Representative Dick Gephardt and seven percent for John Kerry.
Sixty-four percent said, however, it was too early to say for sure about the Democratic nominee.
Meanwhile, the boost Bush enjoyed in the wake of Saddam Hussein's capture has faded. His 50 percent approval rating was down eight percentage points from the last time the poll was taken, December 14-15.
The current poll surveyed 1,022 adults between January 12 and 15 and has a three percent margin of error.
Bush is seen as strong on terrorism and national security, but Americans are lukewarm about many of his domestic initiatives, the poll showed.
Sixty-eight percent said they approved of his campaign against terrorism while just 28 percent disapproved. Forty-eight percent gave him a thumbs-up on his handling of Iraq and 46 percent gave him a thumbs-down.
But 51 percent said his tax cuts had not made much difference to the economy, 27 percent said they were good for it and 17 percent said they were bad. Most respondents said they disapprove of his handling of the economy (51 to 44 percent).
The economy was the topic of most interest to voters in the presidential campaign (15 percent) followed by jobs and unemployment (10 percent) health care and education (both at seven percent).
Many expressed skepticism about Bush's recently announced immigration initiative, with two-thirds opposed to allowing immigrants who entered the country illegally to stay and work in the United States for three years.
And 58 percent said building a permanent space station on the moon was not worth the risk and costs.
Copyright 2004 AFP