Elon University Poll shows support for Bush at 43 percent in Southeastern states

A new Elon University Poll shows support for President George W. Bush stands at 43 percent in five Southeastern states, while 52 percent of citizens disapprove or strongly disapprove of the job Bush is doing. Details and other poll results…

The poll, conducted Feb. 20-23 and Feb. 26-March 2 by the Elon University Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, surveyed 1,277 residents in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent. This is the first regional poll conducted by the Elon University Poll after more than 30 statewide polls since 2000.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents disapprove or strongly disapprove of the way Bush is handling the war in Iraq, while 39 percent approve or strongly approve. On the economy, Bush’s approval rating stands at 40 percent, while 54 percent disapprove or strongly disapprove. The economy (26 percent) and the war in Iraq (26 percent) are the two most important issues facing the country, according those polled.

Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll, said the results show Bush may be losing support in traditionally Republican states.

“Clearly, we see that when it comes to Bush, traditionally ‘red’ states do not hold the strong support they did in the last presidential election,” Bacot said.

Support for President Bush was slightly higher among those affiliated with the military. Among current military members, reservists, retired military and military veterans, 50 percent approve or strongly approve of the job Bush is doing as president, while 46 percent disapprove. When asked about Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq, 49 percent of those with a military affiliation disapprove or strongly disapprove, while 47 percent approve or strongly approve.

“What is notable here is the intensity of disapproval among those affiliated with the military,” said Bacot.

The regional poll also asked respondents if the United States should be in Iraq and whether or not the war in Iraq was worth fighting. Forty-eight percent said the U.S. should not be in Iraq, while 47 percent said the U.S. should be in Iraq. Fifty-one percent said the war in Iraq was not worth fighting, while 44 percent said the war was worth fighting. Fifty-two percent said the U.S. is now more at risk of future terrorist attacks, while 31 percent said the U.S. is at less risk. Fourteen percent said the risk is about the same.

The poll asked citizens to indicate their level of support for their congressional representatives. Sixty percent expressed some or a lot of confidence in their representative in the U.S. House, while 33 percent said they had not much confidence or no confidence. Fifty-eight percent said their level of confidence in their congressional representative has remained unchanged. Twenty-seven percent said their confidence has decreased, while 8 percent said it had increased.

“It appears the president’s troubles are not affecting members of Congress,” Bacot said, “but further analysis suggests that members of the president’s party could suffer in the next election.”

The poll compared party support between the last presidential election and the upcoming congressional election. Forty-two percent of respondents supported Democrats in the 2004 presidential election, while 46 percent supported Republicans. When asked which party they will support in the next congressional election, 33 percent said they will support Democrats and 28 percent said they will support Republicans. Twenty-nine percent said they did not know.

“What jumps out at you here is the difference in drop-off for Democrats and Republicans,” Bacot said. “The Republican drop-off is twice that of the Democrats, suggesting that Bush’s problems may be trickling down to Republican members of Congress.”

The Elon University Poll has conducted several polls annually since 2000. The non-partisan Elon University Poll conducts frequent scientific telephone polls on issues of importance citizens. The poll results are shared with media, citizens and researchers to facilitate representative democracy and public policy making through the better understanding of the opinions and needs of citizens in the state and region.