June 12, 2003

66% Expect Bush Victory, But Democrats More Optimistic Than In ’91

Summary of Findings

Most Americans believe President Bush will win reelection next fall, but Democrats are holding out hope for their party’s chances for success in 2004. Overall, two-thirds of registered voters (66%) think Bush will be reelected, compared with 22% who expect the Democratic candidate to prevail. In the fall of 1991, more than three-quarters of registered voters (78%) expected President George H.W. Bush to win the 1992 election.

Democrats are more optimistic about their chances now than they were in October 1991. Nearly half of registered Democrats (46%) think their party’s candidate will win next year’s election, while 38% expect Bush to prevail. In 1991, two-thirds of registered Democrats (67%) said they thought Bush would win the 1992 race. Independents also are less likely to say they expect a Bush victory (66% now, 82% then), while Republicans are about as confident as they were in October 1991 (91% now, 89% then).

The latest Pew Research Center nationwide poll of 1,000 Americans (including 749 registered voters), conducted June 4-8, finds that 62% of Americans approve of the president’s job perfromance, down slightly from last month (65%). The president’s job approval rating has declined from its recent peak of 74% in early April, shortly after the fall of Baghdad. Just prior to the war (March 13-16), 55% of the public approved of Bush’s job performance.

Bush continues to win overwhelming support from Republicans (92%). But positive ratings for the president have slipped among independents and Democrats since the end of the Iraq war. Currently, 56% of independents approve of Bush’s job performance, down from a recent peak of 73% in late March. Just four-in-ten Democrats give Bush a positive rating, down from 54% in early April.

Tax Cuts, Bush Trip Attract Little Attention

The public is showing little interest in the president’s major accomplishments of the past month ­ his signing into law of $350 billion in tax reductions, and his meetings with world leaders and efforts to jump-start the Mideast peace process. Only about one-in-five Americans say they followed those stories very closely (22% tax cut, 20% overseas trip).

Developments in Iraq continue as the top news story (46% very closely), although interest has declined since last month (63%). The infectious lung disease SARS also is attracting less interest: 28% say they followed reports on SARS very closely, compared with 39% in May.

Cite this publication: “66% Expect Bush Victory, But Democrats More Optimistic Than In ’91.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (June 12, 2003) http://www.people-press.org/2003/06/12/66-expect-bush-victory-but-democrats-more-optimistic-than-in-91/, accessed on July 22, 2014.