In the polls


Geraldine Sealey
June 8, 2004 8:32PM (UTC)

We begin the rundown of the latest polls with an 80s flashback. To see and hear the blanket, round-the-clock "Goodbye Gipper" coverage, you'd think he was never an unpopular president. But indeed, while Reagan ended his two terms with approval ratings that rivaled Bill Clinton's and FDR's, Reagan went through his share of polling doldrums.

A CBS News round-up of Reagan polling shows he left office with 68 percent approval ratings, but in March 1987, Iran-Contra had reduced it to a virtually even split between approval and disapproval. And as late as November 1987, only 45 percent of Americans approved of Reagan's handling of his job. Polls at this time showed more Americans wanted a Democrat to replace Reagan than a Republican.

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CBS polling also shows that Americans said education, poverty, the environment, government ethics and crime were worse after Reagan left office than when he entered.

Back to the 2004 presidential election. A Gallup poll has Kerry slightly ahead of Bush in a head-to-head race 49 to 44 percent among registered voters, and 50 percent to 44 percent among likely voters. With Ralph Nader in the mix, it's Kerry 45, Bush 42 and Nader with 7 percent among registered voters. Among likely voters, Kerry has 49 percent, Bush has 43 percent, and Nader gets 5 percent.

John Zogby's latest poll shows Kerry ahead of Bush 44 to 42 percent. One interesting detail in the Zogby poll shows Kerry pulling more support from a wider swath of voters while Bush leads only among self-described conservatives. Kerry leads among progressives (77%-14%), liberals (70%-17%), and moderates (58%-24%), while Bush is favored over Kerry among conservatives (74%- 17%).

An Investor's Business Daily/TIPP poll shows Bush's standing among voters has never been lower, but he'd still beat John Kerry if the election were held today. Bush leads Kerry 43% to 41% while independent Ralph Nader gets 7%. In a two-way race, Bush leads Kerry 45% to 44%. But this poll shows the battleground race getting closer. In mid-May, Bush led Kerry by six points (44% vs. 38%). But now Kerry holds a 1-point margin (41% vs. 40%).

Britain is not wild about George W. Bush. The Gallup Poll Tuesday Briefing survey says that less than a fifth of Britons (19%) approve of Bush's job performance as president, while 73% disapprove.


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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