Summary of Findings

Most Americans believe President Bush will win reelection next fall, but Democrats are holding out hope for their party’s chances for success in 2004. Overall, two-thirds of registered voters (66%) think Bush will be reelected, compared with 22% who expect the Democratic candidate to prevail. In the fall of 1991, more than three-quarters of registered voters (78%) expected President George H.W. Bush to win the 1992 election.

Democrats are more optimistic about their chances now than they were in October 1991. Nearly half of registered Democrats (46%) think their party’s candidate will win next year’s election, while 38% expect Bush to prevail. In 1991, two-thirds of registered Democrats (67%) said they thought Bush would win the 1992 race. Independents also are less likely to say they expect a Bush victory (66% now, 82% then), while Republicans are about as confident as they were in October 1991 (91% now, 89% then).

The latest Pew Research Center nationwide poll of 1,000 Americans (including 749 registered voters), conducted June 4-8, finds that 62% of Americans approve of the president’s job perfromance, down slightly from last month (65%). The president’s job approval rating has declined from its recent peak of 74% in early April, shortly after the fall of Baghdad. Just prior to the war (March 13-16), 55% of the public approved of Bush’s job performance.

Bush continues to win overwhelming support from Republicans (92%). But positive ratings for the president have slipped among independents and Democrats since the end of the Iraq war. Currently, 56% of independents approve of Bush’s job performance, down from a recent peak of 73% in late March. Just four-in-ten Democrats give Bush a positive rating, down from 54% in early April.

Tax Cuts, Bush Trip Attract Little Attention

The public is showing little interest in the president’s major accomplishments of the past month ­ his signing into law of $350 billion in tax reductions, and his meetings with world leaders and efforts to jump-start the Mideast peace process. Only about one-in-five Americans say they followed those stories very closely (22% tax cut, 20% overseas trip).

Developments in Iraq continue as the top news story (46% very closely), although interest has declined since last month (63%). The infectious lung disease SARS also is attracting less interest: 28% say they followed reports on SARS very closely, compared with 39% in May.