Democratic Voters, the Political Spectrum and a Few Surprises

Posted September 16, 2003 at 3:02pm

In a poll that defies some conventional wisdom, more self-identified registered Democratic voters surveyed in the Aug. 26-28 CBS News poll wanted their party to nominate a conservative for president (27 percent) than preferred a liberal (18 percent). Forty-three percent wanted their party to pick a moderate.

[IMGCAP(1)]Another poll asked a similar question. In the Aug. 25-26 Gallup/CNN/ USA Today poll, 29 percent of self-identified Democrats or those who said they leaned to the Democratic Party said they would rather see the Democrats nominate someone for president in 2004 who was a liberal and 66 percent a moderate. Gallup did not offer a conservative option, but 1 percent volunteered it nonetheless.

Tax Cuts and the Economy. Two new polls show opinion split on the Bush tax cuts. Forty-nine percent told Gallup/CNN/USA Today interviewers in Sept. 8-10 polling that the tax cuts were a good idea and 46 percent a bad one. In May, when the tax cuts were being debated, opinion was split, too.

The poll also showed that 45 percent approved of the job Bush was doing handling the economy and 53 percent disapproved.

In the Sept. 9-10 Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll, 43 percent said the 2003 tax cuts helped make the nation’s economic downturn shorter and less severe than it would have been without them, while a virtually identical 44 percent disagreed. Forty-seven percent in the poll approved of the job Bush was doing managing the economy; 46 percent disapproved.

Twenty-seven percent blamed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the war on terror for the economic downturn of the past couple of years, while 19 percent blamed Bush policies, 17 percent Clinton policies, 13 percent the normal business cycle and 11 percent the corporate scandals.

In the Sept. 10-13 ABC News/Washington Post poll, the public split 48 percent to 48 percent on the job Bush was doing handling taxes. In the poll, 42 percent approved of the job he was doing handling the economy and 56 percent disapproved.

Do Not Call: Confusion Ahead? An astonishing 48 million people have added their names to the federal “Do Not Call” registry. Seventy-one percent told Harris Interactive interviewers in mid-August that they had heard about it, mostly from television or local newspapers. Eighty-three percent said the registry is a good idea. Fifty percent of those who registered or were planning to register expected that the number of unsolicited calls they receive will go down a lot and 37 percent a little. Eleven percent of this group said calls won’t go down.

Ninety-three percent of those who are signed up or plan to do so thought correctly that the registry covered telemarketing sales- related and commercial calls. Substantial numbers thought it applied to fundraising calls from the political parties and candidates (44 percent), calls from commercial surveyors (43 percent), from nonprofit and charitable organizations (39 percent), from media pollsters (32 percent), political and party surveys (31 percent) and government or academic surveys (22 percent). Only 9 percent knew the list applied only to telemarketing calls.

Europe and the United States: Mars and Venus. The German Marshall Fund and the Compagnia di San Paolo recently released the results of a June survey conducted in eight European countries by TNSSofres. This study adds to a growing polling literature from the Pew Global Attitudes Project, Ipsos-Reid, Gallup and others on the nature and structure of trans-Atlantic divisions.

The German Marshall Fund poll segmented Europeans and Americans into four groups based on answers to a series of questions in the poll:

• “Hawks” believe that war is sometimes necessary to obtain justice and that military power is more important than economic power. They are skeptical of international institutions.

• “Pragmatists” also think war is sometimes necessary but believe economic power is more important than military power. They want to strengthen international institutions. They prefer acting multilaterally but are prepared to act alone to defend national interests.

• “Doves” disagree that war is sometimes necessary and believe economic power is becoming more important than military power. They want to strengthen international institutions. They are reluctant to use force without an international OK.

• “Isolationists” don’t believe war is sometimes necessary.

Based on this typology, 22 percent of Americans are hawks, 65 percent pragmatists, 10 percent doves and 3 percent isolationists, according to the Europeans surveyed. Britain looks like the United States, but France and Germany might as well be on a different planet. In France, just 6 percent are hawks, 34 percent pragmatists, 49 percent doves, and 11 percent isolationists. In Germany, the responses were 4 percent, 35 percent, 52 percent and 9 percent, respectively.