Americans Rate Cheney Positively

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Six in 10 approve of the job he is doing as vice president

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Dick Cheney's role as the crucial tie-breaking vote in the U.S. Senate is now gone, with Senator James Jeffords' defection from the Republican Party giving the Democrats a 50-49 advantage. Nevertheless, Americans have a positive view of Cheney, according to a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. Sixty percent approve of the job Cheney is doing as vice president, while just 26% disapprove, according to the survey conducted May 18-20. The numbers are better than George W. Bush's presidential job approval measured in the same poll, in which 56% approved and 36% disapproved of the president.

Cheney's 60% approval rating is down just slightly from an earlier reading of 63% taken near the 100-day anniversary of the Bush presidency in late April. Republicans overwhelmingly approve of the job the vice president is doing (87%), with independents generally approving (59%) and Democrats more divided (39% approve and 44% disapprove). Democrats are much less critical of Cheney than they are of Bush, as only 26% approve and 64% disapprove of the president.

Compared to ratings of previous vice presidents, Cheney's 60% approval rating is similar to the scores Al Gore received during his vice presidency, and higher than those obtained by Dan Quayle. Gore's ratings were typically in the low-to-mid 60s, while Quayle's were in the high 40s to low 50s. The only other vice president rated by Gallup was Richard Nixon, who in March 1956 received a 53% approval rating.

Americans Think Cheney Has Right Amount of Influence

Some critics have argued that Cheney has too much influence in the Bush administration, viewing Bush as more of a hands-off leader, with Cheney making the key decisions. This criticism resurfaced recently, as Cheney had a prominent role in designing and promoting the administration's energy plan. However, the public does not agree with the critics, as only 13% of Americans think Cheney has too much power. The majority (61%) thinks he has the right amount of power, and about one in six thinks he has too little power.

The vast majority of Republicans (80%) feel that Cheney has the proper amount of influence in the Bush administration. Independents and Democrats are less likely to believe this, but still generally feel he has the appropriate amount of power. Fifty-eight percent of independents say Cheney has the proper amount of influence, while 15% say he has too much and 16% say he has too little. Among Democrats, a plurality (48%) believes Cheney has the right amount of power, with 18% saying he has too much and 22% saying he has too little.

Most Think Cheney Is Qualified to Be President

Sixty-two percent of the public thinks Cheney is qualified to be president if it becomes necessary. This includes 80% of Republicans, 61% of independents, and 47% of Democrats. The overall 62% figure compares favorably to previous vice presidents. About six in 10 Americans believed Gore was qualified to be president throughout his tenure as vice president, although Gallup did obtain a 73% reading for Gore during the 1996 Clinton/Gore re-election campaign. At most, 43% of Americans thought Vice President Dan Quayle was qualified to serve as president, while as few as 31% felt this way.

When Americans are asked to choose between Bush and Cheney as the person they think is more qualified to be president, 46% say Bush and 34% say Cheney. Opinion on this issue is also quite partisan, with a plurality of Democrats saying Cheney is more qualified than Bush (by a 41% to 33% margin) but Republicans quite strongly saying Bush is more qualified than Cheney (by a 64% to 20% margin). Independents think Bush is more qualified, but by a rather small margin, 44% to 39%.

Survey Methods

The results below are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,010 adults, 18 years and older, conducted May 18-20, 2001. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 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.

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Dick Cheney is handling his job as vice president?

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       

(NA) 2001 May 18-20

60%

26

14

       

(NA) 2001 Apr 20-22

63%

21

16

       

(NA) National Adults



Based on what you know about Dick Cheney, do you think he is qualified to serve as president if it becomes necessary, or not?

BASED ON -- 481 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A; ±5 PCT. PTS.

 

Yes, qualified

No, not qualified

No opinion

       

(NA) 2001 May 18-20

62%

28

10

       

(RV) 2000 Jul 24 ^

57%

18

25

       

(NA) National Adults

(RV) Registered Voters

^ Based on one night poll of 644 registered voters; ±4 percentage points



If you had to choose, who do you think is more qualified to be president -- [ROTATED: George W. Bush (or) Dick Cheney]?

BASED ON -- 529 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B; ±5 PCT. PTS.

 

 


Bush


Cheney


BOTH (vol.)

NEITHER (vol.)


No opinion

           

2001 May 18-20

46%

34

3

11

6

           
           

(vol.) Volunteered response



Do you think Dick Cheney has too much, too little, or about the right amount of power in the Bush administration?

 

 


Too much


Too little

About the
right amount

No
opinion

         

2001 May 18-20

13%

16

61

10



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