Can Bush Keep His Halo?

When it comes to solving the tough geopolitical and economic issues he's facing, our readers don't expect him to do so well

When it comes to managing the economy and the war on terrorism -- and to acting as peacemaker in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict -- President George Bush is doing as well or better than a majority of people expected him to do. At least, that's what 2,100-plus respondents had to say in response to our Reader Survey, "Can Bush Keep His Halo?" since it was published on Apr. 24.

Only problem is, a large percentage of those who partcipated in this unscientific reader poll don't think Bush has done particularly well at any of those three tasks -- nor do they think he's likely to in the future.

Bush gets his highest marks for his anti-terrorism campaign in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Nearly 47% of those who responded think he did a good or excellent job in trying to root out the terrorists in Afghanistan. However, 35% give him a poor rating for that effort. And opinions of his performance go downhill from there.

DEFICIT JITTERS.

  For instance, 63% of those who took the survey give him a poor rating for his handling of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, while only 27% rate his performance good or excellent. And 54% say he has done a poor job of dealing with the economic slowdown, vs. 32% who give him a mark of good or excellent. Some 69% say they're concerned that under Bush, the U.S. again has federal budget deficits, while 27% don't seem to care.

Moreover, survey participants don't have much faith that the President can do appreciably better in the future. Some 44% doubt that he'll realize his goal of neutralizing Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization, vs. the 33% who give him a good or excellent chance.

Some 71% doubt that the Bush Administration's strategy can do much to ameliorate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, vs. a scant 11% who give Bush a good or excellent chance of succeeding.

GOP'ERS LOG IN.

  Surprisingly, in light of the current recovery, 46% say there's a poor chance that the Administration's economic policies will reignite profits, capital spending, and employment growth by 2003, while 32% give the President's policies a good or excellent chance of reaching those goals.

Overall, 42.5% of those who participated say that Bush is doing a worse job then they thought he would, while about 57% say he's doing as well or better than they expected.

Incidentally, some 41% of those who participated identified themselves as Republicans, while 34% said they are independents, and 18% said they're Democrats.

Here are the detailed results:

How would you rate Bush's direction of his post-September 11 anti-terrorism campaign?

Option Total %  
Excellent 602 28.34 %
Good 391 18.41 %
Fair 381 17.94 %
Poor 739 34.79 %
No opinion 11 0.52 %

How would you rate his efforts to defuse the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Option Total %  
Excellent 201 9.58 %
Good 369 17.59 %
Fair 190 9.06 %
Poor 1330 63.39 %
No opinion 8 0.38 %

How would you rate the President's management of the economy during the recent slowdown?

Option Total %  
Excellent 368 17.53 %
Good 319 15.2 %
Fair 267 12.72 %
Poor 1131 53.88 %
No opinion 14 0.67 %

Are you concerned that the federal budget surpluses of the past few years have turned again into budget deficits?

Option Total %  
No 576 27.43 %
Yes 1453 69.19 %
No opinion 71 3.38 %

What do you think the chances are that the President's anti-terrorism campaign will reach his goals of neutralizing Osama bin Laden and his terrorist organization?

Option Total %  
Excellent 297 14.13 %
Good 405 19.27 %
Fair 465 22.12 %
Poor 923 43.91 %
No opinion 12 0.57 %

What do you think the chances are that the Bush Administration's strategy will help produce a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians?

Option Total %  
Excellent 64 3.05 %
Good 170 8.10 %
Fair 320 15.25 %
Poor 1497 71.32 %
No opinion 48 2.29 %

What do you think the chances are that the Administration's economic policies will reignite profits, capital spending, and employment growth by 2003?

Option Total %  
Excellent 330 15.77 %
Good 350 16.73 %
Fair 415 19.84 %
Poor 970 46.37 %
No opinion 27 1.29 %

Overall, how do you rate Bush's performance as President so far?

Option Total %  
Better than I expected 636 30.26 %
About what I expected 560 26.64 %
Worse than I expected 894 42.53 %
No opinion 12 0.57 %

Do you consider yourself a:

Option Total %  
Republican 887 41.94 %
Democrat 385 18.2 %
Independent 723 34.18 %
Other 120 5.67 %
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