NEW YORK, Feb. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- President George W. Bush's approval
rating has slipped to 48 percent, the lowest level since February 2001,
according to the Newsweek poll. Fifty percent of registered voters say they
would not like to see Bush re-elected to a second term (45% say they would).
And if the election were held today, Democratic frontrunner Sen. John Kerry
would win over Bush by 50 percent to 45 percent among registered voters.
However Bush would have clear wins over Democratic contenders Sen. John
Edwards (49% to 44%), former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (50% to 44%) and retired
General Wesley Clark (51% to 43%).
Sen. Kerry has also strengthened his lead among Democrats and Democratic-
leaning voters in the race for the Democratic nomination. Kerry places first
in the field with 48 percent, while Dean, his closest rival, follows with
13 percent (last week Kerry led with 45% to Dean's 14%). Edwards is in third
place with 10 percent, followed by Clark with nine percent (an improvement of
four points for Clark who last week received 5%). Almost two-thirds (65%) of
Democrats and Democratic-leaners say Kerry is their first or second choice,
followed by Dean (32%) and Edwards (31%).
Meanwhile, following the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's ruling
last week that its landmark decision in support of gay marriage meant full
marriage rights and not civil unions, almost half (45%) of Americans say
efforts to protect the rights of gays and lesbians have gone too far; 25
percent say more effort is needed, 22 percent say the right amount of effort
has been made. Fifty-eight percent of Americans says there should not be
legally-sanctioned gay marriages (33% disagree), while 51 percent say there
should not be legally-sanctioned gay and lesbian unions or partnerships
Americans, however, are more deeply and more evenly divided on whether
they support an amendment to the Constitution. Forty-seven percent say they
would favor a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in all states,
with 45 percent opposing it. (Of those numbers 43% would strongly favor it,
while 35% would strongly oppose it).
Despite their views on gay marriage, Americans are almost evenly split on
whether gays and lesbians should have the right to legally adopt children;
47 percent say they should not, while 45 percent disagree. When it comes to
economic issues, a large majority (60%) says gay spouses should have health
insurance and other employee benefits (33% disagree). Sixty percent also say
gay spouses should have inheritance rights (30% disagree) and 55 percent say
they should have social security benefits (36% disagree). An overwhelming
majority of Americans (87%) says that there should be equal rights for gays
and lesbians in terms of job opportunities (10% disagree) and 60 percent say
gays and lesbians should be able to openly serve in the military (29%
Fifty-four percent of registered voters say the issue of gay marriage will
be either very important (22%) or somewhat important (32%) in determining
their vote for president this year. Twenty percent say it won't be too
important and 21 percent say it's not at all important. Thirty-eight percent
say Bush comes closer to reflecting their own views on gay marriage, while
29 percent say Kerry does.
Asked about Bush and Kerry's stance on gay marriage, a majority (54%) of
registered voters respond "don't know" when asked Kerry's views, compared with
29 percent who say the same of Bush. Forty-nine percent say, based on what
they've seen in the news, Bush would support a Constitutional amendment, if
necessary, to ban gay marriage in all states (7% say Kerry would do the same).
Twelve percent say Bush believes the issue should be left up to individual
states (14% say this of Kerry); nine percent say Bush supports gay civil
unions but not gay marriage (17% say this of Kerry); and one percent says Bush
favors full marriage rights for gays and lesbians (8% say this of Kerry).
Turning to the role of candidates' wives in the presidential race, almost
a third (31%) of Americans say former First Lady Hillary Clinton comes closest
to their image of what a first lady should be; in a three-way tie for second
place are First Lady Laura Bush and former First Ladies Barbara Bush and Nancy
Reagan, with 20 percent each. Almost two thirds (62%) say a first lady should
be involved in politics, while 32 percent disagree; 75 percent of Democrats
feel this way (21% disagree); and 50 percent of Republicans feel this way
When deciding which presidential candidate to support, 67 percent say it
is either very important (25%) or somewhat important (42%) for them to learn
about the candidate's spouse. Seventy-two percent say the relationship between
a candidate and his spouse tells voters either a lot (40%) or something (32%)
about how good a president he would be; 13 percent say it tells you not much
and 12 percent say it tells you nothing.
For this Newsweek poll, Princeton Survey Research Associates interviewed
1,004 adults aged 18 and older on February 5-6, 2004. The margin of error is
plus or minus three percentage points. This poll is part of the February
16 issue of Newsweek (on Newsstands Monday, February 9).
(Read Newsweek's news releases at www. Newsweek.MSNBC.com.