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The Voters’ Verdict: Campaign 2004 Is Dreadfully Dull

Even though many more people say they are following the 2004 campaign than gave that response in 2000 or 1996, most people are still finding it dull. [IMGCAP(1)]

A Pew Research Center poll conducted June 3-13 found that 57 percent of respondents called the campaign “dull,” while 33 percent described in as “interesting.” When asked to choose among other pairs of words, 79 percent said the race was “important” (18 percent said it was “unimportant”), 48 percent said it was “informative” (46 percent said it was “uninformative”), and 52 percent said it was “too long” (42 percent said “not too long”).

In addition, 32 percent said the campaign was hard to follow (63 percent said it was easy to follow). Respondents split, 45 percent to 46 percent, about whether the campaign had been too negative thus far.

In the poll, 44 percent said that Kerry had been too personally critical of Bush, while 48 percent said he had not. One-third of respondents said Bush had been too personally critical of Kerry, while 58 percent said he had not been.

Quayle, Cheney and Edwards. In a July 8-11 poll conducted by Gallup for CNN and USA Today, 59 percent of respondents said President Bush should keep Dick Cheney as his running mate, while 34 percent said he should find someone new. The Harris Interactive/Time/CNN numbers from July 6-8 were 53 percent and 36 percent, respectively. When Gallup broke down the Republican numbers, 71 percent said Cheney should be kept, and 25 percent said there should be someone new.

That’s a lot better than the numbers then-Vice President Dan Quayle racked up in the Gallup poll of July 1992. In that poll, 37 percent of voters wanted Quayle to stay on the ticket, compared to 50 percent who wanted someone new. Among Republicans, 54 percent wanted to keep Quayle, with 39 percent saying they preferred someone new.

In a July 8-9 poll by Princeton Survey Research Associates for Newsweek, 37 percent said Cheney was too conservative, while 33 percent described Edwards as too liberal. In the poll Cheney received stronger marks for leadership (63 percent for Cheney, 53 percent for Edwards), but Edwards was considered more honest and ethical (60 percent to 48 percent, respectively) and more likeable (77 percent to 49 percent).

Wealthy Candidates. In an AP/Ipsos Public Affairs survey in early July, 90 percent said the word “wealthy” described George W. Bush, and 85 percent said it described Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). Approximately 10 percent said it described neither man.

Winning the War on Terrorism? In a poll conducted July 8-11 for The Washington Post, 46 percent said the United States was winning the war on terrorism, compared to 38 percent who said that the United States was losing it.

In another question from the same poll, 53 percent said the war with Iraq has contributed to our long-term security and 43 percent said it had not.

“Fahrenheit 9/11.” In the July 8-11 Gallup poll, 8 percent said they had seen “Fahrenheit 9/11,” while 18 percent said they planned to see it in theaters, 30 percent said they planned to see it on DVD or VHS, and 42 percent said that they did not plan to see it.

A poll for Harris Interactive, Time and CNN taken July 6-8 found that 13 percent of registered voters said they had seen the movie. A slightly earlier (June 28-July 1) Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner poll for found that 6 percent of likely voters had seen the movie.

What Makes a Leader? In a Zogby International survey conducted in March for American Demographics, 65 percent of respondents said that integrity or morality were the most important attributes in a good leader. That response was given by 77 percent of Republicans, compared to 53 percent of Democrats.

Nationally, 16 percent said intelligence was most important, an answer given by 9 percent of Republicans and 22 percent of Democrats. Ranking lowest was charisma: 3 percent of Republicans and 2 percent of Democrats said it was most important.

BlackBerries, Palm Pilots and Cellphones. A new biennial media-usage survey by the Pew Research Center found 68 percent of respondents said they had a cellphone. That’s up from 24 percent in June 1995.

For DVD players, the rate was 76 percent, up from 16 percent just four years earlier.

And for the BlackBerry, Washington’s omnipresent electronic device, the survey found that 14 percent of respondents nationally report having one (or a Palm Pilot or other similar product). That’s up from 5 percent in 2000.

Family Dinner Hours: Alive and Well. When asked by Pew about what they had done yesterday, 65 percent reported that they had a family meal together. That’s about the same percentage that gave that response in 1994, the first time Pew asked the question.

Keep the Penny. In June, 59 percent of respondents told Harris Interactive that they opposed abolishing the penny. The poll found 23 percent in favor.

Karlyn Bowman is a resident fellow specializing in public opinion and polls at the American Enterprise Institute.

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