Leadership

Competency, Not Values, May be Boosting Democrats in '06

Democrats lead Republicans by 23 points in perceptions of effectively managing government

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- When Republicans won majority control of Congress in 1994, they had a slightly better public image than the Democrats on a number of dimensions. Public opinions on those dimensions have ebbed and flowed during the past 12 years, but today the Democrats have the more positive public image, particularly when it comes to perceptions about the party's competency to run the government. There has been less change since 1994 in the political assessment of either party as either too conservative or too liberal, or as representing people's values.

The latest USA Today/Gallup polls update eight different image ratings of the parties, all of which were also asked just prior to the 1994 midterm elections. Four of these address the perceived management or leadership abilities of the parties; the other four deal with the parties' political views or values. According to two Gallup surveys, conducted Oct. 6-8 and Oct. 20-22, 2006, the Democrats' current ratings exceed the Republicans' ratings on all eight dimensions; they hold particularly strong leads on the competency measures. In 1994, the Republicans either tied or led the Democrats on all eight dimensions, but in no case by as much as the Democrats lead on the competency issues today.

Trend in Competency Evaluations

Americans are much more likely today than they were in 1994 to associate the Democratic Party with the statement "able to manage the federal government effectively (57% today vs. 34% in 1994)," as well as to say the Democratic Party "has a clear plan for solving the country's problems (40% vs. 30%)" and "can bring about the changes this country needs (59% vs. 43%)." Americans also have grown more positive about the ethics of congressional Democrats (54% today vs. 34% in 1994). Perceptions of the Republican Party on these dimensions have changed relatively little.

Leadership/Competency Evaluations, Then and Now

Oct. 1994

Oct. 2006

Change

Can bring about the changes this country needs

%

%

Republicans

43

40

-3

Democrats

43

59

+16

Net Republicans

0

-19

Able to manage the federal government effectively

Republicans

42

40

-2

Democrats

34

57

+23

Net Republican

+8

-17

Has mostly honest and ethical members of Congress

Republicans

34

42

+8

Democrats

34

54

+20

Net Republican

0

-12

Has a clear plan for solving the country's problems

Republicans

28

29

+1

Democrats

30

40

+10

Net Republican

-2

-11

As a result, the Democrats now lead the Republicans by 19 points (59% vs. 40%) on "bringing about changes this country needs," and by 17 points (57% vs. 40%) in perceptions of being able to manage the government effectively. In 1994, the Republicans either tied or led the Democrats on these measures. Fewer people think either party "has a clear plan for solving the country's problems" or "has mostly honest and ethical members of Congress," but the trend in perceptions on these has been positive for Democrats and, on a relative basis, the Democrats' current ratings are much more positive than those of the Republicans.

Less Change in Perceptions of Party Platforms

Evaluations of how well the political views of each party are in harmony with one's own views have generally shown less change since 1994. Gallup has four items measuring these perceptions: 1) rating the political views of each party as too conservative, about right, or too liberal; 2) rating how well each party "represents your values"; 3) rating how well each party "represents your attitude about the role of government"; and 4) perceptions of whether or not each party "shares your attitudes about the role of religion in government."

On all four measures, the Republicans' ratings are lower today compared with 1994. The Democrats' ratings have improved substantially on one ("represents your attitude about the role of government"), but have improved only slightly on the other three.

Political/Policy Evaluations, Then and Now

Oct. 1994

Oct. 2006

Change

Represents your values (% well)

%

%

Republicans

54

51

-3

Democrats

48

56

+8

Net Republican

+6

-5

Represents your attitude about the role of government (% well)

Republicans

52

48

-4

Democrats

46

57

+11

Net Republican

+6

-9

Shares your attitudes about role of religion in government

Republicans

46

41

-5

Democrats

46

48

+2

Net Republican

0

-7

Political views are "about right"

Republicans

44

38

-6

Democrats

40

44

+4

Net Republican

+4

-6

A majority of Americans (51%) continue to say the Republicans represent their values either "very well" or "moderately well," and close to half (48%) still believe the GOP represents their attitude about the role of government, but the Democrats have now edged ahead of the Republicans in these perceptions. The Republicans do less well in perceptions that the party shares one's attitudes about the role of religion in government, or that its political views are "about right."

As Many Say Democrats "Too Liberal" as Say Republicans "Too Conservative"

Americans are about equally likely to say the Republican Party is "too conservative" as to say the Democratic Party is "too liberal," 42% to 41%. However, because a slightly greater percentage calls the Republican Party too liberal (14%) than says the Democratic Party is "too conservative (9%), overall satisfaction with the Democratic Party's political compass (44% say it is "about right") is slightly greater than satisfaction with the Republican Party's politics (38%).

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with randomly selected national sample of 1,002 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 20-22, 2006, and a separate sample of 1,001 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 6-8, 2006. For results based on these samples, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

21. In general, do you think the political views of [ROTATED: the Republican Party/the Democratic Party] are too conservative, too liberal, or about right?

A. The Republican Party

Too conservative

Too
liberal

About
right

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2006 Oct 20-22

42

14

38

6

2002 Nov 8-10

34

10

51

5

1999 Feb 12-13

39

12

45

4

1998 Nov 13-15

39

15

41

5

1996 Oct 26-29

41

13

41

5

1995 Nov 6-8

38

18

37

7

1995 Mar

32

14

48

6

1994 Nov 28-29

31

11

54

4

1994 Nov 2-6

34

13

44

9

1994 Oct 22-25

35

15

44

6

1992 Aug 19-20

39

12

38

11

B. The Democratic Party

Too conservative

Too
liberal

About
right

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2006 Oct 20-22

9

41

44

6

2002 Nov 8-10

11

39

45

5

1999 Feb 12-13

6

36

55

3

1998 Nov 13-15

9

37

50

4

1996 Oct 26-29

7

40

49

4

1995 Nov 6-8

12

38

43

7

1994 Nov 28-29

13

50

32

5

1994 Nov 2-6

10

42

40

8

1994 Oct 22-25

10

45

40

5

1992 Aug 19-20

8

37

46

9

22. How well does the Democratic Party do each of the following -- very well, moderately well, not too well, or not well at all? [RANDOM ORDER]

A. Represent your values

Very well

Moderately well

Not too

well

Not well

at all

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Oct 20-22

12

44

23

19

2

2005 Oct 21-23

22

36

22

18

2

1999 Feb 12-13

17

43

21

17

2

1994 Nov 28-29

13

36

29

20

2

1994 Oct 22-25

9

39

28

22

3

B. Represent your attitude about the role of government

Very well

Moderately well

Not too

well

Not well

at all

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Oct 20-22

13

44

22

20

2

2005 Oct 21-23

18

41

22

17

2

1999 Feb 12-13

18

44

23

14

2

1994 Nov 28-29

11

36

29

21

3

1994 Oct 22-25

7

39

29

22

3

C. Share your attitudes about the role of religion in politics

Very well

Moderately well

Not too

well

Not well

at all

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Oct 20-22

14

34

23

24

5

2005 Oct 21-23

20

33

21

22

4

1994 Nov 28-29

12

35

28

20

5

1994 Oct 22-25

10

36

24

24

6

23. How well does the Republican Party do each of the following -- very well, moderately well, not too well, or not well at all? [RANDOM ORDER]

A. Represent your values

Very well

Moderately well

Not too

well

Not well

at all

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Oct 20-22

10

41

21

26

2

2005 Oct 21-23

24

33

19

22

2

1999 Feb 12-13

15

43

25

15

2

1994 Nov 28-29

20

46

19

12

3

1994 Oct 22-25

11

43

26

18

2

B. Represent your attitude about the role of government

Very well

Moderately well

Not too

well

Not well

at all

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Oct 20-22

10

38

26

24

2

2005 Oct 21-23

21

36

21

20

2

1999 Feb 12-13

14

41

30

13

2

1994 Nov 28-29

18

46

21

11

4

1994 Oct 22-25

10

42

30

16

2

C. Share your attitudes about the role of religion in politics

Very well

Moderately well

Not too

well

Not well

at all

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Oct 20-22

11

30

22

33

4

2005 Oct 21-23

22

31

22

23

2

1994 Nov 28-29

13

40

24

17

6

1994 Oct 22-25

8

38

25

21

7

15. Please tell me whether you think each of the following applies, or does not apply to the Republican Party today. How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

16. Please tell me whether you think each of the following applies, or does not apply to the Democratic Party today. How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

A. Has a clear plan for solving the country's problems

The Republican Party

The Democratic Party


Applies

Does not apply

No opinion


Applies

Does not apply

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Oct 6-8

29

66

5

2006 Oct 6-8

40

53

7

1999 Feb 12-13

38

57

5

1999 Feb 12-13

47

49

4

1994 Oct 22-24

28

67

5

1994 Oct 22-24

30

67

3

B. Can bring about the changes this country needs

The Republican Party

The Democratic Party


Applies

Does not apply

No opinion


Applies

Does not apply

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Oct 6-8

40

54

6

2006 Oct 6-8

59

36

6

1999 Feb 12-13

52

43

5

1999 Feb 12-13

56

40

4

1994 Oct 22-24

43

53

4

1994 Oct 22-24

43

53

4

C. Is able to manage the federal government effectively

The Republican Party

The Democratic Party


Applies

Does not apply

No opinion


Applies

Does not apply

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Oct 6-8

40

54

6

2006 Oct 6-8

57

38

5

1999 Feb 12-13

56

41

3

1999 Feb 12-13

57

40

3

1994 Oct 22-24

42

53

5

1994 Oct 22-24

34

62

4

D. Has mostly honest and ethical members in Congress

The Republican Party

The Democratic Party


Applies

Does not apply

No opinion


Applies

Does not apply

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Oct 6-8

42

51

7

2006 Oct 6-8

54

38

8

1999 Feb 12-13

56

40

4

1999 Feb 12-13

55

41

4

1994 Oct 22-24

34

58

8

1994 Oct 22-24

34

60

6

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/25135/Competency-Values-May-Boosting-Democrats-06.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030