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Bush Gets “Thumbs Up” From Teens

by Steve Crabtree, Contributing Editor

A new Gallup Youth Survey indicates that American teenagers view George W. Bush slightly more favorably than adults do. The national poll of 13- to 17-year-olds*, conducted between Jan. 22 and March 9, finds that 58% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president, while 42% disapprove.

The comparable approval figure for adults, based on four Gallup Polls conducted during the same period**, is at the 50% mark. The new teen figures are virtually identical to results for the same question from two Gallup Youth Surveys conducted in 2003.

Teens' responses are more favorable when they're asked what they think of Bush as a person, regardless of his job performance; two-thirds of teens (66%) say they approve of Bush in this respect.

The Future Electorate

Obviously, teens' political orientations are highly influenced by those of their elders. Currently, the U.S. adult electorate is divided fairly evenly among those who identify themselves as Republicans, Democrats, or independents. Teens, many of whom are still forming their political identities, are a little less likely to commit to one of the two major parties: 28% say that when they're old enough to vote, they plan to be Republicans, 26% say they'll be Democrats, and 44% plan to be independents.

Teens seem to be less politically polarized than adults are, and this is likely why Bush's approval ratings are slightly higher among teens. Among teens, 34% of Democrats approve of Bush's job performance, compared with just 90% of Republican teens, for a gap of 56 percentage points. Among adults, 90% of Republicans also approve, compared with just 15% of Democrats, for a gap of 75 points.

However, one aspect of politicization -- the race-based political divide -- appears to be fully present among teens. Two in three white teens (66%) say they approve of the way Bush is handling his job, compared with just 43% of nonwhite teens (including blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and other ethnicities) -- a 23-percentage-point difference. The race gap among adults is about the same: 55% of whites approve of Bush, compared with 31% of nonwhites.

*The Gallup Youth Survey is conducted via an Internet methodology provided by Knowledge Networks, using an online research panel that is designed to be representative of the entire U.S. population. The current questionnaire was completed by 785 respondents, aged 13 to 17, between Jan. 22 and March 9, 2004. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

**Results are based on telephone interviews with 4,023 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted between Jan. 29 and March 3, 2004. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.


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