In 1952, 31 percent of a national sample told Gallup that the Republicans would do a better job of keeping the country prosperous over the next few years, and 35 percent said the Democrats. Today, 41 percent pick the GOP; 42 percent, the Democrats.
Those numbers and other new ones confirm that the public sees the parties as evenly matched. In another question in the new Gallup poll, 37 percent said the Republican party and 41 percent said the Democratic party could better handle the country’s most important problem.
Pew Research asked a similar question and found people split: 36 percent, the GOP; 35 percent, the Democrats. The early August Los Angeles Times poll found that 35 percent of the registered voters polled said Dems could do a better job handling the major problem facing the country, and 38 percent picked the GOP. The early August NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 43 percent of those surveyed had a positive view of the Democratic party (31 percent negative). The results for the GOP were virtually identical: 39 percent had a positive impression; 34 percent, negative.
And 41 percent said they agreed with most of what the Republicans in Congress are proposing; 38 percent disagreed.
Another question in the LAT poll found that 44 percent felt that “based on their record over the last year and a half,” the GOP deserved to maintain control of Congress; 46 percent disagreed.
Gallup’ s Aug. 11 survey finds roughly equal numbers having a favorable opinion of Jack Kemp (56 percent) and Al Gore (59 percent). Kemp’s unfavorables are slightly lower (14 to 29 percent). In July 1992, 64 percent said Gore was qualified to be president; in the new poll 61 percent felt that way about Kemp. Only a third felt that way about Dan Quayle in 1992.
VPs rarely add much to presidential tickets. Still, 26 percent said the addition of Kemp will make them more likely to vote for Bob Dole (63 percent said no difference, and 8 percent said less likely). In 1992, only 6 percent said Quayle’s presence boosted their support for the ticket (68 percent said it made no difference, but 25 percent said it made them less likely).
Gallup asked people whether Dole had scored a “10” with Kemp. The public gave him a 6.9.
The Devil You Know
An unconventional explanation for Bill Clinton’s strength appeared in the Los Angeles Times’s early August survey. Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed agreed that “when it comes time to vote for president, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.”
The Avenue Question
Dole recently said he had doubts about closing Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House. Most people don’t. Sixty-two percent of those surveyed by CBS News/48 Hours after the TWA plane crash and the Olympics bombing said that it was necessary to close the avenue to protect the White House; 32 percent disagreed.
Joe Klein’s Ratings
When the Pew Research Center asked people in late July whether they had heard about a number of stories in the news, 18 percent said they had heard “a lot” about the revelation that Newsweek columnist Joe Klein was the anonymous writer of Primary Colors (27 percent said they had heard “something” and 55 percent had “never heard” about it).
More people said they had heard a lot about Klein’s disclosure than had heard about former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm’s decision to run for president (12 percent), although 42 percent had not heard something about Lamm. Forty-six percent had not heard about this at all.
Major vs. Blair
Robert Worcester, an American expatriate who heads one of Britain’s most successful polling firms, Market & Opinion Research International, publishes a monthly newsletter on the British polls. In his latest release, he argues that the outcome of the next British election will be a lot closer than today’s polls suggest (the most recent MORI poll gives Labor a commanding lead over the Tories--52 to 31 percent; British Gallup puts it at 55-24).
Worcester believes most Brits don’t want any one party to have too great an advantage in Parliament. He expects Labor to end up with an overall majority of 40 seats--a projection in line with that of the British bookies, regularly included in the newsletter.
Pay Raises for MPs
Seems the Brits aren’t eager to raise salaries for their elected officials either. In a recent ICM poll for the Guardian, Brits opposed pay raises that had been recommended by the Senior Salaries Review Body.
Three quarters said a salary of 43,000 pounds ($65,000) was too high for Members of Parliament, and about the same number felt l03,000 pounds ($155,000) was too high for cabinet ministers. A smaller majority (55 percent) thought a salary of 143,000 pounds ($215,000) was too high for a prime minister, though 38 percent said the amount was “about right.”
Most polls show general public satisfaction with the economy. In a late June poll, the New York Times found that 60 percent said the economy’s condition was good, and 39 percent described it as bad. Perhaps surprisingly, of those who answered “good,” 36 percent gave President Clinton the credit, but almost as many (34 percent) gave the GOP Congress the credit. Those who described conditions as “bad” were twice as likely to blame the GOP Congress (44 percent) as the President (21 percent).
Karlyn H. Bowman is a resident fellow at AEI.