Politics

Bush's Ratings Little Affected by Stem Cell Decision

Bush job approval marked by unusual stability so far

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- There is little evidence that President Bush's recent high-profile decision regarding stem cell research has made a difference in his image among Americans -- for better or worse. Americans approve of his decision to allow limited federal funding of stem cell research, but his job approval rating is little different from recent weeks. Other dimensions measured in a weekend CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll also show little change from previous points in time.

In the poll conducted the weekend, before Bush's August 9 stem cell announcement, the president's job approval was 55%. This past weekend, after the speech, it was 57%, statistically unchanged. Indeed, Gallup has conducted 18 surveys measuring Bush's job approval during his administration, and his average rating across those surveys has been 57%. In other words, Bush is now performing almost precisely at the average level for his administration.

All this is in spite of the fact that Bush himself presented the stem cell decision as one of the most significant of his administration. He spent weeks studying up on the issue, and then preempted prime time programming last Thursday to announce his decision to the nation and to the world (by the weekend poll, 45% of Americans said that they had watched his speech). The media have given the issue enormous attention in recent days. Weekend polling shows that Americans' general reaction to the president's decision was positive.

Still, it is apparent that Thursday's stem cell decision made little difference in how the public rates Bush's job performance.

That conclusion is further reinforced by an analysis of other measures obtained in this past weekend's poll. The tables below present the public's evaluation of Bush on several dimensions -- comparing this past weekend's poll with the most recent poll conducted before his stem cell announcement. In all situations, there has been very little substantive change.

 

 

Please tell me whether you agree or disagree that George W. Bush has the personality and leadership qualities a president should have.

 

 

Agree

Disagree

No opinion

       

National Adults

     

(NA) 2001 Aug 10-12

57%

41

2

       

(NA) 2001 Jun 8-10

54%

42

4



 

Please tell me whether you agree or disagree with George W. Bush on the issues that matter most to you.

 

 

Agree

Disagree

No opinion

       

(NA) 2001 Aug 10-12

52%

42

6

       

(NA) 2001 Jun 8-10

49%

47

4



Thinking about the following characteristics and qualities, please say whether you think it applies or doesn't apply to George W. Bush. How about – [ROTATED]?

 

Shares your values

 

Applies

Doesn't apply

No opinion

       

2001 Aug 10-12

56%

41

3

       

2001 Jul 10-11

56%

40

4



 

Is a strong and decisive leader

 

Applies

Doesn't apply

No opinion

       

2001 Aug 10-12

55%

43

2

       

2001 Jul 10-11

57%

40

3



 

Keeps his promises

 

Applies

Doesn't apply

No opinion

       

2001 Aug 10-12

59%

31

10

       

2001 Apr 20-22

57%

33

10



 

Do you think George W. Bush's political views are too conservative, about right, or too liberal?

 


Too conservative

About
right

Too
liberal

No
opinion

         

2001 Aug 10-12

38%

40

16

6

         

2001 Jul 10-11

35%

43

14

8



It may be, of course, that the full impact of the president's stem cell decision will not become evident in polling for several more weeks. The short-term conclusion, however, is that the public agrees with the decision in general, but this agreement has not made a fundamental difference in how Americans view their president.

Public's Evaluation of Bush Among More Stable of First Term Presidents Since World War II

It is interesting to look in more detail at the fact that the public's evaluation of George W. Bush -- so far -- has been relatively stable:

 

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       
 

%

%

%

(NA) 2001 Aug 10-12

57

35

8

       

(NA) 2001 Aug 3-5

55

35

10

(NA) 2001 Jul 19-22

56

33

11

(NA) 2001 Jul 10-11

57

35

8

(NA) 2001 Jun 28-Jul 1

52

34

14

(NA) 2001 Jun 11-17

55

33

12

(NA) 2001 Jun 8-10

55

35

10

(NA) 2001 May 18-20

56

36

8

(NA) 2001 May 10-14

56

31

13

(NA) 2001 May 7-9

53

33

14

(NA) 2001 Apr 20-22

62

29

9

(NA) 2001 Apr 6-8

59

30

11

(NA) 2001 Mar 26-28

53

29

18

(NA) 2001 Mar 9-11

58

29

13

(NA) 2001 Mar 5-7

63

22

15

(NA) 2001 Feb 19-21

62

21

17

(NA) 2001 Feb 9-11

57

25

18

(NA) 2001 Feb 1-4

57

25

18

       

(NA) – National Adult

     


As noted, Bush has averaged 57% across this time span. The range in his job approval ratings has been only 11 percentage points -- from a high of 63% (6 points above his average) to his low of 52% (5 points below his average).

George W. Bush's range of job approval ratings is in fact is among the lowest of these eight presidents -- the same as Kennedy's, and higher only than Eisenhower and Nixon. By comparison, Bill Clinton had a range of 22 points at this point in his first term, from a high of 59% to a low of 37%, and Bush's father had a range of 19 points, from 51% to 70%.

Presidential Job Approval from Inauguration through August of First Year in Office

 

 

Low

 

High

 

Range

Standard Deviation

Eisenhower

67

74

7

2.9

Kennedy

72

83

11

3.3

Nixon

58

65

7

2.3

Carter

60

75

15

4.1

Reagan

51

68

17

5.2

Bush (1989)

51

70

19

6.9

Clinton

37

59

22

6.7

Bush (2001)

52

63

11

3.1

The standard deviation, represented in the right hand column in the table above, is a statistical measure of the variance around the mean of the individual ratings that went into each president's overall average. The higher the standard deviation, the more that particular president's ratings tend to vary. The lower the standard deviation, the more tightly clustered the president's ratings tend to be around his overall average for these months in his administration.

Here we find again that Bush's administration, so far, is typified by relative stability. Nixon and Eisenhower had lower standard deviations, and JFK's was about the same as Bush's. All other first term presidents had early months typified by wider variability in measurement -- particularly Bush the elder and Bill Clinton, whose first months in office were exemplified by considerable volatility in job performance ratings.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,017 adults, 18 years and older, conducted August 10-12, 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.

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/4795/Bushs-Ratings-Little-Affected-Stem-Cell-Decision.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030