"Buchanan is viewed unfavorably by 54 percent of the voters, and favorably by 10 percent. But that is not nearly as negative as the view held about Donald J. Trump, the New York real estate magnate who has just joined the Reform Party and says he will seek its nomination if he believes he can win the presidency. Just 7 percent of Americans have a favorable view and 70 percent an unfavorable opinion. That is the highest unfavorable view ever recorded by a Times/CBS News Poll."
---------------------------- New York Times November 10, 1999 Poll Finds Greater Confidence in Democrats By ADAM CLYMER with JANET ELDER
A year before the election, Democrats enjoy public confidence on most critical election issues, from health care to education to Social Security, and more voters say they will vote for Democrats than Republicans in the the House of Representatives, the latest New York Times/ CBS News Poll shows.
The poll does contain some good news for the Republicans. The party still has the leading candidate in the presidential race: George W. Bush, who holds a clear though somewhat smaller lead over both Vice President Al Gore and former Senator Bill Bradley.
In addition, the Republicans, whose image suffered badly during the battle to impeach President Clinton, have recovered some ground on several issues and for the first time in more than a year have an overall favorable standing with the public. But the gains are modest and do not affect Democratic dominance on issues that voters say they care about the most.
The strongest number for the Democrats in the poll was on how people expected to vote in House races next year. Forty-five percent said they would vote for a Democrat in their district, while 38 percent said they would vote for a Republican. While a national poll cannot predict the results of 435 House elections, an actual seven percentage point advantage in the November 2000 election would ensure a Democratic House.
The public clearly finds the most fault with the Republicans who control Congress. A Gallup Poll, conducted on the same days, Thursday through Sunday, as the Times/CBS News Poll, showed 53 percent of the public disapproved of Congressional Republicans, while 38 percent approved. For Democrats in Congress, 49 percent approved and 42 percent disapproved.
On issues, the poll measured one especially striking Republican failure. Despite their spending much of the summer and fall trying to assert that their party was trying to protect Social Security while Democrats were about to squander its resources, the public solidly prefers the Democrats to make the "right decisions" about Social Security. Forty-nine percent preferred the Democrats; 33 percent the Republicans. Similarly, 49 percent to 33 percent favored the Democrats on improving education in the nation.
When the public was asked which party would do a better job of improving the health care system, 54 percent cited the Democrats, compared with 28 percent who named the Republicans.
But on the question of which party would do best at ensuring a strong military, Republicans held a 57 percent to 37 percent advantage. Yet that advantage has little apparent political value. Only 2 percent of the public considered defense the "single most important problem for the president and Congress to deal with." Six percent cited education, 8 percent cited Social Security, and 13 percent cited health care. The poll also suggested that the early dominance of Bush may be softening in the presidential race. The poll showed that he led Vice President Al Gore by 50 percent to 41 percent and former Senator Bill Bradley by 51 to 39 percent. The differences between those two hypothetical races are not statistically significant in this poll of 1,162 adults, of whom 953 said they were registered voters. In both groups the margin of sampling error was plus or minus three percentage points.
Bush led Gore by wider margins in CBS News Polls conducted earlier this fall , by 17 points in September and 15 points in October. His lead over Bradley has fluctuated, going from 12 points in September to 22 in October and back to 12 points in this poll. Both Bush and Gore retained wide leads, nationally, for their party's nomination, though those figures do not reflect the standings in particular states, like New Hampshire, where several surveys have found the races much closer.
Among people who said they were likely to vote in a Democratic primary or caucus, Gore led Bradley, 56 percent to 30 percent. That was slightly less than his 58 percent to 26 percent lead in a CBS News Poll last month. And while both trailed Bush, both led Senator John McCain in a trial matchup; Gore's lead was 47 percent to 36 percent. Bradley's was 47 percent to 30 percent.
Of all the candidates in both parties, Gore's support seemed firmest. Forty percent of his Democratic backers said their minds were made up, while 59 percent said it was too early to be certain. Among Bradley's primary supporters 27 percent said their minds were made up.
Gore also enjoyed another edge over Bradley, and Bush, too. When people who said they would vote for him in a general election were asked why they liked him, 86 percent gave a specific reason, like his experience or a position on an issue. Seventy-two percent of Bradley's supporters had that sort of answer.
The differences were even more striking between Bush and McCain. Sixty-one percent of Bush backers and 86 percent of McCain supporters had a specific reason. Bush had a number of backers who said "I like him" or "He can win."
While Bush's national lead is immense, with two-thirds of Republican primary voters supporting him, and no one else in shouting distance at the moment, the vagueness of support could be troublesome. Backers who support someone because he can win can be quickly discouraged if he loses in a single primary. A dramatic example of that came in February 1980, when the governor's father, former President George Bush, led Ronald Reagan but Reagan's backers were much clearer in their reasons. After Bush lost in New Hampshire, his backing dissolved.
Among people who said they were likely to vote in a Republican primary or caucus, Bush was supported by 68 percent. No one else had more than 8 percent, the total for McCain of Arizona, who in recent weeks has attracted a surge of support in New Hampshire, the site of the first primary. In a CBS News Poll last month, his nationwide support stood at 14 percent.
Steve Forbes, the publisher, had 5 percent in the most recent poll, followed by Alan Keyes with 3 percent, and Senator Orrin G. Hatch and Gary L. Bauer at 2 percent. Bush was viewed favorably by 60 percent of Republican primary voters, and unfavorably by 7 just percent. The only other Republicans with more favorable than unfavorable ratings were McCain and Keyes.
Among Republican primary voters, there was little difference in the intensity of support. For Bush, 28 percent said their minds were made up. For all the others, the total pools of supporters were too small to provide a reliable measure.
One key to Bush's strength in the nomination process is his party's belief that he has the best chance to win in November. And a persistent key to his strength is his support from women and from Democrats.
Over the last two decades, election polling has consistently shown that women are less likely than men to support the Republican Party and its candidates. But those differences become statistically meaningless in Bush's case. He led Gore 51 to 41 percent among men and 50 percent to 41 percent among women. He led Bradley by the same 51 to 41 percent among men, and 51 to 38 percent among women.
Bush also attracted substantial numbers of Democrats, 20 percent against Gore and 24 percent against Bradley. Those party defectors tended to be southern, conservative and religious.
Bush lost only 6 percent of Republicans to Gore and 8 percent to Bradley. While Republicans often have lower defection rates than Democrats, the difference between the rates involving Bush are greater than usual. For instance, in the 1996 presidential election, there were about an equal number of defections on both sides. Thirteen percent of Republicans voted for Clinton and a roughly equal 10 percent of Democrats voted for former Senator Bob Dole.
The poll did show a favorable standing for Bush's party. Forty-eight percent of the respondents viewed the Republicans favorably, while 43 percent had an unfavorable opinion, and 9 percent had no opinion at all. For the Democratic Party, the results were a bit better; 52 percent had a favorable view; 39 percent an unfavorable opinion, and 9 percent no opinion.
The nation's political wild card, the Reform Party, has a strongly negative image. Fifty-three percent have an unfavorable view, 26 percent a favorable opinion, and 21 percent no opinion.
Nor are its potential presidential candidates highly regarded. Patrick J. Buchanan draws 6 percent of the vote if matched against Bush and either Gore or Bradley. In both matchups, Buchanan takes votes mainly from Bush and narrows Bush's lead over the Democrat.
Buchanan is viewed unfavorably by 54 percent of the voters, and favorably by 10 percent.
But that is not nearly as negative as the view held about Donald J. Trump, the New York real estate magnate who has just joined the Reform Party and says he will seek its nomination if he believes he can win the presidency.
Just 7 percent of Americans have a favorable view and 70 percent an unfavorable opinion. That is the highest unfavorable view ever recorded by a Times/CBS News Poll. The last comparably negative rating was a 3 percent favorable, 55 percent unfavorable recorded by Linda R. Tripp, the former friend of Monica S. Lewinsky, in October 1998.