NEW YORK - President Bush would lose narrowly to a Democratic Party candidate if the U.S. presidential election were held now because of concerns about possible war and the economy, according to an opinion poll published on Thursday.
The Feb. 26-March 3 nationwide survey of U.S. voters by Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University found that by a 48 percent to 44 percent margin, voters would pick the as yet unknown candidate out of nine Democrats running over the Republican incumbent. The survey of 1,232 voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent.
"This month, we find that an unnamed Democrat would edge out President Bush," said Quinnipiac University Polling Institute director Maurice Carroll. "The political winds are hard to read this early, but we do know that war and a bad economy are not good for anyone, especially sitting presidents."
Bush is expected to run for reelection in Nov. 2004. Nine Democrats have announced their intention to seek their party's nomination.
Bush narrowly lost the popular vote to Democrat Al Gore in 2000 but became president by winning the decisive electoral college vote based on returns from the 50 states.
Carroll said the survey revealed that U.S. voters, even with no mention of weapons of mass destruction, support U.S. war against Iraq to force President Saddam Hussein from power by 57 percent to 35 percent.
By almost the same margin, 56 percent to 38 percent, voters said Washington should wait for United Nations support instead of going to war alone in the Gulf.
Bush's approval rating was at 53 percent to 39 percent, the poll found, but only 9 percent were "very satisfied" with the way things were going in the United States. Thirty-five percent said they were "somewhat satisfied," 28 percent "somewhat dissatisfied," and 26 percent "very dissatisfied."
The pollsters said that when asked what was the most important problem facing the United States, 31 percent said it was war with Iraq followed by 27 percent who believed it was the economy or unemployment and 14 percent terrorism or security.
Copyright 2003 Reuters Ltd