Powell Remains Most Popular Political Figure in America

by David W. Moore

Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Britain's Tony Blair also popular while Germany's Gerhard Schroeder is not

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- A new Gallup Poll finds that Secretary of State Colin Powell remains the most popular political figure in America, and that most Americans have favorable views about other leaders of both the Bush administration and the Democratic Party. Additionally, Americans have favorable opinions about the leaders of Great Britain and the United Nations. However, Americans are more negative about German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose recent re-election was largely attributable to his opposition to military action against Iraq.

The poll, conducted Sept. 23-26, finds that four of the administration officials leading the charge against Iraq all have quite favorable ratings. President George W. Bush continues to enjoy a favorable rating from seven in 10 Americans, although the rating has been declining slowly since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Two months after the attacks, Bush had an 87% favorable rating, up from 60% the month before the attacks occurred. These results mirror the pattern of presidential job approval measured during the same time period.

Opinion of George W. Bush

Vice President Dick Cheney also enjoys high favorable ratings, 65% favorable to 24% unfavorable, up somewhat from July, but about the same as his ratings were last January.

Opinion of Dick Cheney

About six in 10 Americans say they have a favorable opinion of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The rating is down somewhat from July, but still quite high.

Opinion of Donald Rumsfeld

Secretary of State Colin Powell receives the highest ratings of the four administration members included in the survey, with 88% of Americans expressing a favorable view and just 6% an unfavorable view. This 88% favorable rating is in fact one of the highest such ratings in Gallup Poll history. Powell's high popularity is nothing new. When he was initially thrust into the national spotlight over a decade ago, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he received highly favorable ratings from the American public even then. After his retirement, many Republican Party leaders thought he would be a good presidential candidate to oppose Bill Clinton's re-election, but Powell declined to run. Still, his popularity remained high after his selection by Bush to head up the State Department, and today he remains the most favorably evaluated person on the political landscape -- of either party.

Opinion of Colin Powell

Powell has been portrayed in the news media as less committed than Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to a war with Iraq. But the secretary of state has been the U.S. official primarily responsible for making the case for war to the United Nations, and has been working on the wording of a resolution to make the action acceptable to the U.N. Security Council.

Congressional Leaders -- Favorable Ratings but Less Well Known

  • The major congressional leaders all receive net favorable ratings from the public, but far fewer Americans can rate them than can rate administration officials Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell. The speaker of the House, Republican Dennis Hastert, is viewed favorably by 30% of Americans, and unfavorably by 11%.
  • Hastert's most likely replacement -- should the Democrats win majority control of the House -- would be Richard Gephardt, rated favorably by 40% of Americans and unfavorably by 23%.
  • Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle also receives net favorable ratings, by 39% to 26% -- a less positive ratio than either of the House leaders receives, however. Daschle's ratings were measured during the week in which he became involved in a shouting match with President Bush, over the president's comments that the Senate did not care about the national security of the country. (Despite Daschle's higher visibility level in recent months, his ratings have remained virtually the same.)
Opinion of Congressional Leaders
Sep. 23-26, 2002

Prime Minister Blair Popular Among Americans

The new poll also shows that Great Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair is highly regarded by Americans. His rating is even better than Bush's rating, with 69% of Americans expressing a favorable view and just 8% unfavorable. Bush receives a one-point-higher favorable rating (70%), but also receives a much higher unfavorable rating (28%).

Opinion of International Leaders
Sep. 23-26, 2002

Again, this positive rating for the British leader is not new. Long before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the American people viewed Blair positively. His even higher ratings today probably reflect the very active and supportive role he is playing for the Bush administration in trying to get U.N. support for an attack on Iraq.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan also receives net favorable ratings, 30% to 19%, although many Americans do not know enough about Annan to be able to rate him. Annan has played a somewhat neutral role in U.S. efforts to mount a war effort against Iraq, consistent with his official position in the United Nations.

By contrast, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder receives net negative ratings from Americans. During his recent election campaign, Schroeder vowed to the German voters that he would not support a U.S.-led attack on Iraq, and promised no German participation even if a U.N. resolution were passed in favor of such a war. His stance caused anger in the Bush administration, and apparently negative feelings among some members of the American public as well. Still, the net unfavorable rating is relatively modest (22% unfavorable to 16% favorable), with more than six in 10 Americans expressing no opinion.

Survey Methods

The latest results are based on telephone interviews with 800 national adults, aged 18+, conducted Sept. 23-26, 2002. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 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.

Next, we'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of these people -- or if you have never heard of them. How about – [ITEM A, ITEMS B-Q ROTATED]?

 

A. George W. Bush


Favorable

Unfavor-
able

No
opinion

%

%

%

2002

(NA) 2002 Sep 23-26

70

28

2

(NA) 2002 Jul 26-28

71

26

3

(NA) 2002 May 20-22

80

18

2

(NA) 2002 Apr 29-May 1

79

19

2

(NA) 2002 Jan 11-14

83

15

2

2001

(NA) 2001 Nov 26-27

87

11

2

(NA) 2001 Aug 3-5

60

35

5

(NA) 2001 Jun 8-10

62

36

2

(NA) 2001 Apr 20-22

65

32

3

(NA) 2001 Mar 9-11

63

32

5

(NA) 2001 Mar 5-7

69

28

3

(NA) 2001 Feb 19-21

67

27

6

(NA) 2001 Feb 1-4

64

33

3

(NA) 2001 Jan 15-16

62

36

2

2000

(NA) 2000 Dec 15-17

59

36

5

(NA) 2000 Dec 2-4

56

40

4

(NA) 2000 Nov 13-15

53

43

4

(RV) 2000 Nov 13-15

54

43

3

(RV) 2000 Nov 4-5

55

39

6

(RV) 2000 Oct 24-26

62

33

5

(RV) 2000 Oct 23-25

60

35

5

(RV) 2000 Oct 20-22

59

37

4

(RV) 2000 Oct 5-7

58

36

6

(RV) 2000 Sep 28-30

55

38

7

(RV) 2000 Sep 15-17

51

41

8

(NA) 2000 Aug 18-19

60

34

6

(NA) 2000 Aug 4-5

67

28

5

(NA) 2000 Jul 25-26

63

31

6

(NA) 2000 Jul 14-16

64

29

7

(NA) 2000 Jun 23-25

60

31

9

(NA) 2000 Jun 6-7

64

29

7

(NA) 2000 Apr 28-30

61

33

6

(NA) 2000 Mar 10-12

63

32

5

(NA) 2000 Feb 25-27

57

35

8

(NA) 2000 Feb 20-21

58

35

7

(NA) 2000 Feb 4-6

63

31

6

(NA) 2000 Jan 17-19

66

26

8

1999

(NA) 1999 Dec 9-12

68

25

7

(NA) 1999 Oct 21-24

71

21

8

(NA) 1999 Oct 8-10

70

25

5

(NA) 1999 Sep 23-26

71

22

7

(NA) 1999 Aug 16-18

68

21

11

(NA) 1999 Jun 25-27

69

16

15

(NA) 1999 Apr 13-14

73

15

12

(NA) 1999 Feb 19-21

69

12

19

(NA) National Adults

(RV) Registered Voters

B. United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan

Favorable

Unfavorable

Never heard of

No opinion

2002 Sep 23-26

30%

19

32

19

C. British Prime Minister, Tony Blair

Favorable

Unfavorable

Never heard of

No opinion

2002 Sep 23-26

69%

8

14

9

1998 Dec 28-29

58%

8

18

16

D. Dick Cheney

Favorable

Unfavorable

Never heard of

No opinion

%

%

%

%

(NA) 2002 Sep 23-26

65

24

4

7

(NA) 2002 Jul 26-28

57

30

3

10

(NA) 2002 Jan 11-14

67

20

3

10

(NA) 2001 Apr 20-22

64

22

3

11

(NA) 2001 Mar 5-7

63

18

5

14

(NA) 2001 Jan 15-16

61

23

5

11

(NA) 2000 Dec 15-17

61

23

6

10

(NA) 2000 Dec 2-4

58

23

8

11

(NA) 2000 Nov 13-15

51

22

9

18

(RV) 2000 Nov 13-15

53

22

8

17

(RV) 2000 Sep 15-17

46

24

8

22

(RV) 2000 Aug 18-19

54

21

5

20

(RV) 2000 Aug 4-5

48

21

9

22

(RV) 2000 Jul 25-26

51

14

12

23

(Reps) 1994 Mar 28-30 ^

49

21

16

14

(NA) National Adults

(RV) Registered Voters

(Reps) Based on 466 Republicans

^ WORDING: "Former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney"

G. Senate Majority Leader, Tom Daschle

Favorable

Unfavorable

Never heard of

No opinion

%

%

%

%

2002 Sep 23-26

39

26

16

19

2002 Jul 26-28 ^

37

31

18

14

2002 Jan 11-14 ^

39

25

15

21

2001 Jun 8-10 ^

34

20

33

13

^

WORDING: Senate Democratic Leader, Tom Daschle

H. House Minority Leader, Dick Gephardt

 

Favorable

Unfavorable

Never heard of

No opinion

%

%

%

%

(NA) 2002 Sep 23-26

40

23

20

17

(NA) 2001 Aug 3-5 ^

39

24

21

16

(NA) 2000 Oct 25-28 ^

42

19

17

22

(NA) 1998 Dec 28-29 ^

46

22

16

16

(NA) 1998 Oct 9-12 ^ †

48

20

15

17

(Dems) 1998 May 8-10 ^

40

17

23

20

(NA) 1997 Sep 6-7 ^

31

22

22

25

(NA)

National Adults

(Dems)

Based on 487 Democrats

^

WORDING: House Democratic Leader, Dick Gephardt

Asked of half sample.

 

K. Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert

Favorable

Unfavorable

Never heard of

No opinion

%

%

%

%

2002 Sep 23-26

30

11

31

28

2002 Jul 26-28

31

15

29

25

2001 Aug 3-5

29

15

36

20

2000 Oct 25-28

28

9

37

26

1999 Sep 10-14

23

7

22

48

1999 Feb 19-21

31

10

32

27

L. Secretary of State, Colin Powell

Favorable

Unfavorable

Never heard of

No opinion

%

%

%

%

(NA) 2002 Sep 23-26

88

6

3

3

(NA) 2002 Apr 29-May 1 ^

85

9

3

3

(NA) 2000 Dec 15-17 ^

83

6

6

5

(NA) 2000 Aug 4-5 ^

79

8

7

6

(NA) 2000 Apr 28-30 ^

78

8

7

7

(NA) 1997 Apr 18-20 ^

77

7

7

9

(RV) 1996 Aug 14-16 ^

74

13

4

9

(NA) 1995 Nov 6-8 ^

67

13

5

15

(NA) 1995 Sep 22-24 ^

64

13

6

17

(NA) 1995 Jul 20-23 †

73

6

7

14

(NA) 1995 Apr 17-19 †

72

9

7

12

(NA) 1994 Mar 28-30 ‡

66

11

9

14

(NA) 1994 Jan 15-17 ‡

72

7

11

10

(NA) 1993 Sep 10-12 ‡

70

8

--

22

(NA) 1993 Jan 29-31 ‡

71

9

--

20

^

WORDING: Colin Powell

WORDING: Retired General Colin Powell

WORDING: General Colin Powell

(NA)

National Adults

(RV)

Registered Voters

M. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld

Favorable

Unfavorable

Never heard of

No opinion

2002 Sep 23-26

61%

19

10

10

2002 Jul 26-28

67%

15

9

9

N. German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder

Favorable

Unfavorable

Never heard of

No opinion

2002 Sep 23-26

16%

22

36

26

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