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Battleground 2006 Poll
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Battleground 2006
March 24, 2005

WASHINGTON – The George Washington University Battleground 2006 Poll identifies Social Security as the leading response on an open-ended question about the top problem for President and Congress. However, a majority of Americans oppose private accounts – no matter how they are described. On the top economic problem, there is a remarkable consistency among voters that health care represents the primary problem facing the country.

In other key findings from the survey, the majority of respondents feel that the direction of the country remains on the wrong track (54%-39%). However, this pessimism is not harming Bush’s job approval (53%-44%) or his personal approval (66%-25%).

Regarding voter attitudes on key political figures and institutions, Bush (53%-42%) holds the strongest level of support followed by the Republican Party (50%-41%), the Republicans in Congress (49%-39%), the Democrats in Congress (47%-39%), and the Democratic Party (49%-42%).

Looking ahead to the 2006 congressional elections, the generic congressional ballot stands at a statistical tie with the Democratic Party at 44% and the Republican Party at 41%.

On issue handling, the Democrats win on making prescription drugs affordable (53%-25%), improving education (49%-34%), holding down federal spending (43%-38%), strengthening Social Security (49%-34%), creating jobs (48%-37%), and for the middle class (55%-33%). When the Republicans in Congress are tested versus the Democrats in Congress, the GOP also wins on Iraq (51%-33%), keeping American prosperous (45%-40%), holding the line on taxes (49%-36%), safeguarding America from a terrorist threat (55%-27%), and shares your values (46%-43%).

On issue handling, when Bush is tested versus Congress, Bush wins on Iraq (54%-35%), keeping America prosperous (46%-43%), improving education (45%-44%), holding the line on taxes (53%-34%), safeguarding America from a terrorist threat (62%-28%), and shares your values (50%-43%). The Democrats in Congress win on making prescription drugs affordable (53%-29%), holding down federal spending (44%-41%), strengthening Social Security (49%-38%), creating jobs (46%-42%), and for the middle class (51%-40%).

Regarding the economy, 41% of voters believe it is excellent or good and 59% believe it is either fair or poor. On the economy six months from now, 44% believe it will be excellent or good while 52% believe it will be fair or poor. While a majority of voters believe the economic situation of their family is about the same now (58%) and will be about the same six months from now (55%), more voters believe they are better off now (23%) than worse off now (19%) and expect to be better off six months from now (34%) than worse off six months from now (11%). Given a choice between better stability and opportunity, a majority of voters (62%) select stability.

“With the exception of President Bush interjecting Social Security reform into the issue matrix and a slight drop-off in Bush haters, there is little that has changed since last November’s presidential election,” said Republican pollster Ed Goeas. “Over the next two years, it will be very interesting to observe whether issues will be defined through the cultural divide between married church goers and single non-church goers, which benefits Republicans, or return to the politics of fear and class warfare that benefits the Democrats.”

Celinda Lake, Democratic pollster, said, “Despite political scare tactics and dire forecasts, voters are not willing to accept the president’s created crisis in Social Security. While Americans clearly see the need for strengthening Social Security with minor to modest changes, they are not willing to risk the successful safety net for the nation’s seniors on a radical scheme of privatization. Voters know where the president stands and oppose privatization no matter how he spins it. Republican congressional representatives should be concerned that the president’s agenda is turning the spotlight to issues that highlight Republican platform weaknesses.”

This bipartisan GW-Battleground 2006 Poll surveyed 1,000 registered likely voters nationwide March 7-9, 2005, and yields a margin of error of + 3.1%. In this 27th poll, Lake and Goeas bring their unparalleled level of experience to provide insight and analysis on this data and its implications.

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 Snell Perry Mermin and Associates. 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 Snell Perry Mermin & Associates at (202) 776-9066 or e-mail Daniel at

The GW-Battleground Poll archives since 1991 are at GW’s Gelman Library,
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