Political Capital with John Harwood

NBC/WSJ Poll: More Highlights About White House Race


Here are some more highlights from our NBC/WSJ poll, which tells a lot about the state of the race for the White House. (see link below for my previous post on the poll)

--Though rivals question Hillary Clinton's "electability," she outpaces all of them in the public's assessment of qualifications for the presidency. 46% of Americans express confidence in her “skills and ability necessary to be president”, compared to 36% who say that about Giuliani. Democrats by three to one call her more electable than Barack Obama.

--Republicans divide more evenly; 39% call Rudy Giuliani most electable while 26% name Fred Thompson. and though former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee trails badly in GOP polls and fund-raising, he runs comparably to Mitt Romney in a general election matchup with Clinton.

--Assessing economic strength on a 10-point scale, Americans deliver mean rating of 5.3, down from 5.6 in July. Nine in 10 cite negative effects from gas prices, seven in 10 cite health costs, while nearly half point to declining home values and stock market fluctuations.

-- By 55% to 38%, respondents say government should do more to help rather than leaving matters to individuals and businesses. But 62% of independents and 75% of Republicans say helping delinquent mortgage holders avoid foreclosure isn’t government’s job, notwithstanding Bush’s assistance plan.

--Most Americans accept Bush’s link between Iraq and anti-terror war. Some 55% of independents and 82% of Republicans say Iraq war is part of broader struggle against terrorism; 60% of Democrats disagree. But proportion who say the U.S. is safer than before 9/11 has dipped to 33% from 38% five years ago.

--Most whites say they haven’t been hurt by home price declines and subprime mess, while most African-Americans say they have. Fully 58% of blacks blame mortgage lenders more than borrowers for mortgage woes, while 46% of whites do.

--Though Americans agree Iraq should be Bush’s top concern, they divide by party on next priorities. Republicans say illegal immigration and terrorism, while Democrats say health care and jobs.

--With approval of Congress stuck at 23%, Democrats see their ratings slip. Some 34% rate the party favorably, down from 42% in July, while negative ratings rise to 38% from 35%. Their consolation: Republicans, at 31% positive and 47% negative, fare worse.

--Though Bush’s ratings on Iraq have edged up, 64% still fret more that he won’t change his policy than that Congress will push him too hard. A 53% majority, including four in 10 Democrats, say pulling out all troops within 15 months isn’t achievable; 50%, including three in 10 Republicans, say creating a stable democracy in Iraq is similarly out of reach.

--After consecutive presidential losses, 40% of Democrats look for White House choice with best chance of winning. Just 26% of Republicans tout electability, while 62% prefer a nominee who agrees with them on most issues.

--While former Fed Chairman Greenspan promotes his new book, two-thirds of Americans still don’t know his successor Ben Bernanke.

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