In the 2008 presidential election, whichever Democrat receives the party’s nomination appears to have a better chance of winning than does their Republican rival, as indicated by several Gallup polls conducted since January of this year. Most Americans have a negative view of the nation’s current condition, and if the past is any indication, voters will want the hold responsible the party currently in power, unless something changes dramatically by November of 2008.
According to the October 12-14 USA Today/Gallup poll, President George W. Bush’s job approval rating is now at 32 percent, and has been as low as 40 percent since September 2006. The most recent two quarterly averages for Bush job approval rating have been some of the lowest in Gallup poll history.
Only 26 percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the country, while 72 percent are dissatisfied. The record low for this measure is 12 percent, but even so, the current numbers are dismal enough to suggest trouble for Republicans.
Only 33 percent of Americans consider the economy in the nation to be “excellent” or “good,” while 23 percent say the economy is in poor condition. The majority of Americans (66 percent) also think economic conditions are getting worse, and only a small portion (23 percent) believe economic conditions are improving.
In past elections, a perceived bad economy has indicated trouble for incumbent presidents running for re-election, including Ford in 1976, Carter in 1980, and Bush in 1992. While the current president Bush is, of course, not running this time around, the negative opinion of America’s economic environment could still be an obstacle for the eventual Republican nominee.
Another area of concern for Americans (in fact, the number one problem in the country, according to recent Gallup polls) is the war in Iraq, and Democrats may have the upper hand on this issue as well. Americans believe the Iraq war is going badly, was badly conceived in the first place, and also perceive that the Democrats would do a better job handling Iraq than the Republicans.
Americans’ views of Republicans in general are not especially promising. 59 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party, while only 38 percent have a favorable one. Also, 53 percent of Americans rate the Democratic Party favorably, while 43 percent rate them unfavorably. Since April of 2005, Americans have rated the Democrats more positively than the Republicans by at least one point in every Gallup poll.
Democrats tend to do well in generic ballot matchups with Republican presidential candidates. In an October 12-16 CBS News Poll, 48 percent of voters said they would “probably” vote for the Democratic presidential candidate, and just 33 percent said they’d vote for the Republican candidate. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted on October 12-14 finds the generic Democrat candidate leading the generic Republican candidate by 13 points. However, Democratic candidates have significant leads over only the lesser-known Republican candidates Thompson and Romney, while being nearly tied in matchups of Clinton or Obama versus Giuliani or McCain, so while a Democratic presidential win seems likely, anything is possible.
Source: “Gallup Election Review: October 2007”, Gallup