Public Gives Democrats Edge on Healthcare, Social Security; Republicans on National Defense

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Parties rated about equally on the budget, education

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The 107th Congress is back in session after its August recess. It has a number of items on the agenda, including education reform, prescription drug benefits for older Americans, a patient's bill of rights, campaign finance reform, faith-based initiatives, and next year's budget, among others. Roughly half the American public thinks the policies proposed by Congressional Democrats will move the country in the right direction. A similar number think this of Republican Congressional policies. However, when asked about specific issues, the public sees a big difference in political ability -- Americans say that the Democrats will do a better job of dealing with healthcare policy and Social Security, while the Republicans are better able to handle national defense.

The poll assessed the public's views of which party would do a better job of dealing with each of six issues.

REPUBLICAN/DEMOCRATIC PARTY ON THE ISSUES SUMMARY TABLE

 

2001 Aug 24-26
(sorted by "advantage")

Republican Party

Democratic Party


Advantage

%

%

%

National defense

59

32

+27

The federal budget

44

45

-1

Energy

43

45

-2

Education

42

47

-5

Social Security

37

52

-15

Healthcare policy

33

55

-22

+ Advantage indicates Republican Party lead
- Advantage indicates Democratic Party lead



Republicans enjoy an advantage on just one measure -- national defense, typically a strong Republican issue. The advantage is significant -- 27 points, 59% to 32%, the largest of the issues tested. Polls conducted in 1993 and 1994 also showed roughly six in 10 Americans saying the Republicans were better than the Democrats on national defense.

Democrats fare well on healthcare policy, currently enjoying a 55% to 33% edge. The public has regained its confidence in the Democrats' ability to deal with healthcare. The Democratic advantage disappeared in 1994, coincident with President Clinton's unsuccessful effort to establish a national healthcare system. For example, in August and September of 1994, Democrats only led the Republicans by an average of 4 points on this measure, and in November of 1994 Republicans actually enjoyed a 46% to 41% edge. By 1996, however, Democrats had regained a sizeable advantage over the Republicans. Prior to 1994, the Democratic Party advantage ranged from 21 points in December 1993 to 43 points in December 1992.

Do you think the Republican Party or the Democratic Party would do a better job of dealing with each of the following issues and problems? How about -- education

The Democrats' lead on Social Security is 15 points, 52% to 37%, in line with previous readings on this issue. At the same time, though, the poll shows the public is solidly behind President Bush's proposal to allow Americans to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in the stock market, by a 62% to 34% margin. This level of support has not decreased since last year, despite the fact that the stock market has not performed well in 2001.

Public Gives Parties Similar Ratings on Budget, Energy and Education

Congress will devote a lot of time to the 13 appropriations bills that make up next year's federal budget. The challenge is greater this year, given that the budget surplus is projected to be much smaller than previous estimates. In recent weeks, leaders of both parties have criticized the others' approach to dealing with the federal budget. Americans, though, are divided as to which party would better handle the budget issue, with 45% favoring the Democrats and 44% the Republicans. The public is evenly split on energy, as 45% say the Democrats are better able to deal with the issue while 43% say this of the Republicans.

Gallup polls conducted throughout this year show education as one of the top priorities for Americans. Both the House and Senate have passed school-reform bills that would require annual testing and would hold schools accountable for their performance, however Congress must work out differences in the bills before President Bush can sign a measure into law. The Democrats enjoy a very small advantage on education, 47% to 42%, but this represents a decline in their education ratings. They enjoyed a 54% to 32% edge the last time this question was asked in 1998, and a 49% to 35% edge in 1997.

Do you think the Republican Party or the Democratic Party would do a better job of dealing with each of the following issues and problems? How about -- healthcare policy

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 814 adults, 18 years and older, conducted August 24-26, 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 think the policies being proposed by the -- [ROTATED: Republican leaders in the U.S. House and Senate / Democratic leaders in the U.S. House and Senate] -- would move the country in the right direction or in the wrong direction?

A. Republican leaders in the U.S. House and Senate

 

 

Right direction

Wrong direction

No opinion

       
 

%

%

%

National Adults

     

(NA) 2001 Aug 24-26

49

38

13

       

(NA) 1999 Oct 8-10

54

35

11

(NA) 1998 Nov 13-15

43

40

17

(NA) 1998 Oct 23-25

47

33

20

(NA) 1998 Jul 7-8

43

28

29

(NA) 1997 Dec 18-21

44

36

20

(NA) 1997 Apr 18-20

46

39

15

(NA) 1996 Apr 9-10

45

41

14

(NA) 1995 Dec 15-18

44

44

12

(NA) 1995 Nov 6-8

44

41

15

(NA) 1995 Sep 22-24

41

44

15

(NA) 1995 Mar 27-29

53

37

10

(NA) 1995 Feb 24-26

52

33

15

(NA) 1994 Nov 28-29

55

27

18

       

Registered Voters

     

(RV) 2001 Aug 24-26

49

40

11

       

(RV) 2000 Oct 16-18

49

30

21

(RV) 1999 Oct 8-10

54

36

10

       

1994-1999 Wording: Do you think the policies being proposed by the Republican leaders in the U.S. House and Senate would move the country in the right direction or in the wrong direction?



B. Democratic leaders in the U.S. House and Senate

 

 

Right direction

Wrong direction

No opinion

       

National Adults

     

(NA) 2001 Aug 24-26

51%

36

13

       

Registered Voters

     

(RV) 2001 Aug 24-26

49%

38

13

       

(RV) 2000 Oct 16-18

48%

31

21



Do you think the Republican Party or the Democratic Party would do a better job of dealing with each of the following issues and problems? How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

A. Education

 

 

Republican
Party

Democratic
Party

No difference/
no opinion

       

(NA) 2001 Aug 24-26

42%

47

11

       

(NA) 1998 Oct 9-12

32%

54

14

(NA) 1997 Oct 27-29 ^

35%

49

16

(LV) 1996 Oct 26-29

30%

59

11

       

^

Asked of half sample.



B. Energy

 

 

Republican
Party

Democratic
Party

No difference/
no opinion

       

(NA) 2001 Aug 24-26

43%

45

12



C. The federal budget

 

 

Republican
Party

Democratic
Party

No difference/
no opinion

       

(NA) 2001 Aug 24-26

44%

45

11



D. Healthcare policy

 

 

Republican
Party

Democratic
Party

No difference/
no opinion

       
 

%

%

%

(NA) 2001 Aug 24-26

33

55

12

       

(NA) 1998 Oct 9-12

31

57

12

(NA) 1997 Oct 27-29 ^

34

51

15

(LV) 1996 Oct 26-29

32

57

11

(NA) 1994 Nov 28-29

46

41

13

(NA) 1994 Sep 6-7

40

43

17

(NA) 1994 Aug 15-16

38

43

19

(NA) 1994 Mar 25-27

34

50

16

(NA) 1994 Feb 26-28

40

45

15

(NA) 1993 Dec 17-19

32

53

15

(NA) 1992 Dec 4-6

21

64

15

(NA) 1992 Jan 3-6

27

60

13

(NA) 1991 Nov

27

56

17

(NA) 1991 Sep

29

54

17

       

^

Asked of half sample.



E. National Defense

 

 

Republican
Party

Democratic
Party

No difference/
no opinion

       

(NA) 2001 Aug 24-26

59%

32

9

       

(NA) 1994 Nov 28-29

62%

28

10

(NA) 1993 Dec 17-19

56%

31

13



F. Social Security

 

 

Republican
Party

Democratic
Party

No difference/
no opinion

       

(NA) 2001 Aug 24-26

37%

52

11

       

(NA) 1998 Oct 9-12

33%

54

13

(NA) 1997 Oct 27-29 ^

35%

46

19

       

^

Asked of half sample.



NA – National Adults

LV – Likely Voters

Get Articles in Related Topics:


Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/4846/Public-Gives-Democrats-Edge-Healthcare-Social-Security-Republican.aspx
Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030