Congressional Democrats Surge in Public Ratings on Economy

by David W. Moore

Also improve standing on foreign affairs, federal budget deficit, and situation with Iraq

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- A new Gallup Poll shows that since January, there has been a significant shift in public sentiment about which of the two political parties in Congress can best deal with selected issues. The largest shift has been in the area of the economy, with Democrats now favored by 17 percentage points, while Republicans were favored by one point last January. Democrats' ratings have also improved in the areas of foreign affairs, the federal budget deficit, and the situation in Iraq (note: the poll was conducted before the Tuesday announcement that American forces had killed Saddam Hussein's two sons). On four other issues, there has been no change in ratings.

The poll, conducted July 18-20, asked the public to rate which party would better handle a list of eight issues. Republicans in Congress hold a 26-point edge over the Democrats on the issue of terrorism, as well as a 15-point advantage on handling the situation in Iraq, and a five-point advantage on foreign affairs in general.

By contrast, the Democratic advantages are all in the area of domestic issues: prescription drugs for older Americans, unemployment, the economy, the federal budget deficit, and education.

REPUBLICANS VS. DEMOCRATS IN

CURRENT ABILITY TO DEAL WITH SELECTED ISSUES

 

2003 Jul 18-20
(sorted by Republican "advantage")


Republicans


Democrats

Repub-
lican
Advantage

%

%

%

Terrorism

55

29

+26

The situation with Iraq

51

36

+15

Foreign affairs

46

41

+5

Education

37

49

-12

The federal budget deficit

37

50

-13

The economy

36

53

-17

Unemployment

35

54

-19

Prescription drugs for older Americans

31

53

-22

+

Advantage indicates Republican lead

-

Advantage indicates Democratic lead



Since January, the Democrats' image has improved in four areas: the ability to handle the economy, foreign affairs, the situation with Iraq, and the federal budget deficit. On the remaining four issues, the parties' relative advantages have stayed stable.

CHANGE IN RATINGS OF TWO PARTIES

ON HANDLING SELECTED ISSUES -- JANUARY TO JULY

 


Republican

Advantage

January


Republican Advantage July

 

Change in Ratings

Pct. Pts.

Pct. Pts.

Terrorism

+28

+26

-2

The situation with Iraq

+24

+15

-9

Foreign affairs

+17

+5

-12

Education

-13

-12

+1

The federal budget deficit

-4

-13

-9

The economy

+ 1

-17

-18

Unemployment

-20

-19

+1

Prescription drugs for older Americans

-23

-22

+1

+

Advantage to Republicans

-

Advantage to Democrats



The largest shift in opinion is found in the public's ratings of the two parties on the economy. Last January, the parties were seen as equally able to handle that issue, but the current poll shows the Democrats up by 17 percentage points.

Republicans maintain their advantage in handling terrorism, virtually unchanged from last January. However, though they also maintain a lead in dealing with the situation in Iraq, it is down from a net advantage last January of 24 percentage points to 15 points now.

In handling foreign affairs, the Republicans in Congress still enjoy a slight advantage, but it is just five points compared with the 17-point advantage recorded last January. In recent weeks, Democrats have become more critical of the Bush administration's handling of the situation in Iraq, as well as its handling of other foreign policy issues, such as North Korea and Liberia.

The federal budget deficit also shows a shift in public sentiment, with Americans favoring the Democrats by 13 points now, compared with only four points last January. Last week, the administration announced a federal budget deficit of $455 billion, the largest in the country's history and $150 billion higher than what the administration predicted five months ago.

On education, unemployment, and prescription drugs for seniors, Democrats enjoy double-digit advantages as they did in the January poll.

Shift Seen Among All Partisan Groups, but Democrats Especially

The decline in Republicans' ratings on the issue of the economy, from January to July is fairly broad.

  • Republicans showed a 73-point advantage for their own party in January, but just a 62-point advantage in July -- a decline of 11 percentage points.
  • Independents favored the Democrats over the Republicans by five points in January, but 21 points in July -- a decline for the Republicans of 16 points.
  • Democrats showed an increase in the margin for their own party over the Republicans, from 66 points to 84 points, representing a decline for the Republicans of 18 points.

Similarly, the decline in Republicans' rating on foreign affairs is also found among all three partisan groups. However, the decline among Democrats is about twice as large (-20 points) as the decline among independents (-9 points) and Republicans (-7 points).

While Democrats and independents show lower ratings for the Republicans on satisfaction with Iraq (-12 points and -8 points, respectively), Republicans show a slight increase (+4 points).

Republicans show the largest decline for their own party's handling the federal budget deficit -- down 10 percentage points, compared with -8 points among independents and -3 points among Democrats.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,003 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted July 18-20, 2003. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error 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.

Do you think the Republicans in Congress or the Democrats in Congress would do a better job of dealing with each of the following issues and problems? How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

A. Terrorism

 


Republicans


Democrats

NO DIFFER-
ENCE
(vol.)

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2003 Jun 18-20

55

29

10

6

2003 Jan 3-5 ^

55

27

13

5

2002 Oct 21-22

52

23

14

11

2002 Sep 20-22 ^

56

27

10

7

2002 Jun 28-30

57

22

13

8

2002 May 28-29 ^

51

19

19

11

^

Asked of a half sample.



B. The economy

 


Republicans


Democrats

NO DIFFER-
ENCE
(vol.)

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2003 Jul 18-20

36

53

7

4

2003 Jan 3-5

43

42

10

5

2002 Jul 26-28

37

42

13

8

2002 Jun 28-30

44

40

10

6

2002 May 28-29 ^

43

34

13

10

^

Asked of a half sample.



C. Foreign affairs

 


Republicans


Democrats

NO DIFFER-
ENCE
(vol.)

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2003 Jul 18-20

46

41

7

6

2003 Jan 3-5

51

34

10

5

2002 Oct 21-22

47

33

10

10

2002 Sep 20-22 ^

49

33

10

8

2002 May 28-29 ^

46

27

15

12

^

Asked of a half sample.



D. The situation with Iraq

 


Republicans


Democrats

NO DIFFER-
ENCE
(vol.)

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2003 Jul 18-20

51

36

7

6

2003 Jan 3-5

53

29

12

6



E. The federal budget deficit

 


Republicans


Democrats

NO DIFFER-
ENCE
(vol.)

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2003 Jul 18-20

37

50

7

6

2003 Jan 3-5 ^

39

43

11

7

2002 May 28-29 ^

40

36

13

11

^

Asked of a half sample.



F. Unemployment

 


Republicans


Democrats

NO DIFFER-
ENCE
(vol.)

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2003 Jul 18-20

35

54

7

4

2003 Jan 3-5 ^

32

52

11

5

2002 Sep 20-22 ^

35

51

6

8

^

Asked of a half sample.



G. Prescription drugs for older Americans

 


Republicans


Democrats

NO DIFFER-
ENCE
(vol.)

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2003 Jul 18-20

31

53

9

7

2003 Jan 3-5 ^

31

54

10

5

2002 Oct 21-22

29

51

10

10

2002 Sep 20-22 ^

28

58

6

8

2002 May 28-29 ^

29

45

13

13

^

Asked of a half sample.



H. Education

 


Republicans


Democrats

NO DIFFER-
ENCE
(vol.)

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2003 Jul 18-20

37

49

8

6

2003 Jan 3-5 ^

35

48

12

5

2002 Oct 21-22

34

46

11

9

2002 Sep 20-22 ^

31

53

10

6

2002 Jun 28-30

43

43

8

6

2002 May 28-29 ^

35

41

14

10

^

Asked of a half sample.



SUMMARY TABLE: CONGRESS HANDLING OF ISSUES/PROBLEMS

 

2003 Jul 18-20
(sorted by "advantage")


Republicans


Democrats


Advantage

%

%

%

Terrorism

55

29

+26

The situation with Iraq

51

36

+15

Foreign affairs

46

41

+5

Education

37

49

-12

The federal budget deficit

37

50

-13

The economy

36

53

-17

Unemployment

35

54

-19

Prescription drugs for older Americans

31

53

-22

+

Advantage indicates Republican lead

-

Advantage indicates Democratic lead



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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/8914/Congressional-Democrats-Surge-Public-Ratings-Economy.aspx
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