ho do Americans view more favorably, George W. Bush or Al Gore? Dick Cheney or Tom Daschle? Colin Powell or Dick Gephardt? Donald Rumsfeld or Hillary Clinton? There are some answers in a newly released Gallup poll, and they are reassuring news for the Bush national-security team as the public debate over Iraq intensifies.
Last week Gallup pollsters read respondents a list of well-known names and asked, "As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of those people or it you have never heard of them." This is what they found:
President Bush got a 70 percent favorable rating, versus a 28 percent unfavorable rating (two percent said they had no opinion).
Vice President Cheney received a 65 percent favorable rating, against
a 24 percent unfavorable (four percent said they had never heard of him,
and seven percent had no opinion).
The survey, taken at a time when both sides in the Iraq debate made significant public statements, produced starkly different results for leading Democrats:
Former Vice President Gore got a 46 percent favorable rating and a 47 percent unfavorable rating (seven percent said they had no opinion).
Senate Majority Leader Daschle got a 39 percent favorable rating and a 26 percent unfavorable rating (16 percent of respondents said they have never heard of him, while another 19 percent said they have no opinion).
House Minority Leader Gephardt received a 40 percent favorable rating and a 23 percent unfavorable rating (20 percent said they have never heard of him, while 17 percent had no opinion).
New York senator Hillary Clinton received a 47 percent favorable rating and a 44 percent unfavorable rating (nine percent had no opinion).
The numbers for the administration's leading figures are so favorable that even their staunchest foreign ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, scored higher than every U.S. Democratic leader. Gallup found that Blair had a 69 percent favorable rating, versus an eight percent unfavorable rating (14 percent had never heard of him and nine percent had no opinion). Whatever it says about how seriously Americans follow politics, the fact that more of them know and like Blair than Daschle or Gephardt is not good news for Democrats.
Finally, the party is not getting much help from its former president, Bill Clinton, who has been a nearly ubiquitous presence during the Iraq debate. The poll found that Clinton received a 47 percent favorable rating and a 49 percent unfavorable rating, with four percent having no opinion.