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Battleground 2006 Poll
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Battleground 2006
October 25, 2005

WASHINGTON – The George Washington University Battleground 2006 Poll finds that the events of the past few months have had a negative impact on President Bush and the Congressional Republicans. However, it is not yet clear if the Democratic Party will be able to translate these negative sentiments into major gains at the polls in 2006.

“Today, President Bush and Republicans face a political environment that, as reflected in current polling numbers, is the most negative environment of his Presidency,” said Republican pollster Ed Goeas. “This does mean that Democrats are soaring with new found respect from the voters. They have done a good job driving a wedge between the President and American voters, but they have done little to project themselves as having the solutions to the Nation’s problems.”

Celinda Lake, Democratic pollster, said, “Americans are growing increasingly disillusioned by, and distrustful of, President Bush and the Republican Congress. If Democrats are able to position themselves as the party of reform, both economic and political, voters could very well turn 2006 into a quintessential Six-Year Itch election.”

On the overall political environment, the generic Congressional ballot stands at 46% for the Democratic Party and 41% for the Republican Party. Voters are very dissatisfied with the direction of the country as 66% believe the country is on the wrong track and 28% believe the country is headed in the right direction. Regarding their issue concerns, the top tier identified by voters is the war in Iraq (21%) and the economy/taxes (14%).

On a series of name identification questions, the President (46%-53%), Republicans in Congress (44%-47%), the Republican Party (45%-49%), and Tom Delay (21%-46%) all have favorable/unfavorable scores that are net negative. In addition, the job approval score for the President stands at 44% approve and 54% disapprove. However, the personal approval score for the President stands at 61% approve and 31% disapprove, indicating that President Bush does have some goodwill remaining with voters to rebuild his image and performance ratings. In contrast, the Democrats in Congress (47%-42%) and the Democratic Party (48%-45%) both enjoy favorable/unfavorable scores that are net positive.

Fully 82% of voters have seen, read, or heard something about the policies of President Bush but 60% of this sub-group of voters indicate these policies have given them a less favorable impression of the President. Clearly, the aftermath of the hurricane relief efforts had a negative impact on the President.

“It is difficult to believe how much the battleground of public opinion has changed in eleven months,” said F. Christopher Arterton, dean of The George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM). “After the 2004 election, Bush and the Republicans stood virtually unchallenged in the center of the ring. Now, they're on the ropes, from self-inflicted blows. Voter turnout will be crucial in these elections and both Republicans and Democrats have a lot to do in the coming year to solidify their messages and make sure they resonate with voters.”

On a series of issue handling questions, the Republican Party and President Bush hold advantages on their traditional issues of taxes, terrorism, and homeland security. The Congressional Democrats hold advantages on their traditional issues of prescription drugs, education, Social Security, jobs, and being for the middle class. The Republican Party and President Bush are in a statistical tie with the Congressional Democrats on shares your values.

On two new issues tested in the issue handling section to this survey – “setting the right priorities” and “ending corruption in Washington” – both find the Congressional Democrats at an advantage against the Congressional Republicans. However, on the issue of ending corruption in Washington, the Democrats are locked in a statistical tie with President Bush.

Regarding the relief efforts after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, a majority of voters (58%) believe the federal government did not do such a good job and 78% of voters believe the state and local governments in Louisiana did not do such a good job. A majority (53%) of voters indicate that they had a less favorable impression of President Bush based on these events.

On paying for hurricane relief efforts, voters were also presented with a number of proposals to fund the rebuilding efforts in the affected areas. The proposals which receive the highest level of support are removing items not directly related to road construction from the highway funding bill (73%), raising taxes in those with household income of more than $200K (68%), and reducing troops in Iraq now towards total withdrawal by end of 2006 (63%). In addition, 42% of voters support just running a deficit until better economic times. Only 32% of voters support suspending the Medicare prescription drug benefit for one year.

This bipartisan GW-Battleground 2006 Poll surveyed 1,000 registered likely voters nationwide October 9-12, 2005, and yields a margin of error of + 3.1%.

The George Washington University is the sponsor of the GW-Battleground Poll, a highly regarded, bi-partisan survey conducted by top polling firms The Tarrance Group and Lake Research Partners. GW’s role in the poll is guided by the University’s Graduate School of Political Management. The University also was recently recognized as the “Hottest School for Political Junkies” in the 2005 Kaplan/Newsweek How to Get Into College guide for the second time in three years. Initiated in June 1991, the Battleground Polls have gained widespread media recognition as reliable leading indicators of national opinion and voters’ intentions.

For more information about the poll, please contact Daniel Gotoff at Lake Research Partners at (202) 776-9066 or e-mail Daniel at

The GW-Battleground Poll archives since 1991 are at GW’s Gelman Library,
For more news about GW, visit the GW News Center at

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