skip to main content
After 100 Days, Public's Perceptions of Bush Remarkably Unchanged

After 100 Days, Public's Perceptions of Bush Remarkably Unchanged

Americans' mostly positive views of Bush continue as he ends his first three months in office

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- April 30th will be George W. Bush's 100th day in office as president of the United States -- a passage of time that has attained symbolic and journalistic significance since President Roosevelt's first 100 days in 1933. A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll takes stock of Americans' assessment of several dimensions of their new president -- his policies, his politics and his personal style. Overall, the April 20-22 survey finds that Bush has held on to the mostly positive image he enjoyed shortly before taking office on January 20, and in a few cases has improved upon it. The areas in which the public rates Bush lowest are generally those that were his relative weaknesses before he took office, reinforcing the overall conclusion that in the first 100 days in office, Bush has generally sprung no surprises on the American public. Across a wide variety of measures, the public now perceives Bush as no better nor no worse than they did before his January 20 inauguration.

The Hundred Days under Roosevelt were described by one historian as "an unmediated triumph," and "a cascade of lawmaking" that included banking reform, a government economy act, unemployment relief, the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and many other legislative accomplishments. No subsequent president has matched this level of success or action. Nevertheless, George W. Bush has passed several important milestones in his first 100 days, including a major speech to the nation, submission of his budget proposal to Congress, launching of air strikes against Iraq, and dealing with the recent spy plane controversy with China.

Bush Enjoys Majority Job Approval
Bush's job approval rating is currently 62%, roughly the same as Gallup's first measurement of his job rating in early February when 57% approved. Also, by a 21-point margin, 55% to 34%, Americans think the policies Bush has proposed will generally move the country in the right, rather than the wrong, direction. This assessment, too, has held steady over the past 100 days.

In short, after having had over three months to watch their president in action, the American public has just about the same view point on Bush's job performance and the direction in which he is leading the country as they did when he started. The president has apparently neither surprised Americans with an unexpectedly brilliant performance, nor has he disappointed them.

Additionally, Americans have maintained, or in some instances increased, their confidence that Bush will be able to accomplish a series of specific goals in his administration. We asked Americans in mid-January to assess whether or not Bush would be able to achieve each of 12 specific goals, and asked the same question again this past weekend. The public has not downgraded Bush's likelihood of achieving any of these 12 goals. On several items there has been little change, and on four of the objectives -- cutting taxes, increasing respect for the presidency, improving moral values, the environment -- the percentage saying that Bush will succeed has increased by six percentage points or more.

Whether or not you support Bush, do you think the Bush administration will or will not be able to do each of the following?

 

% Saying Bush Will Be Able to Accomplish Each Objective

 

January 15-16

April 20-22

Difference

       

Cut your taxes

49

59

+10

Increase respect for the presidency

61

68

+7

Improve moral values in the U.S.

55

62

+7

Improve quality of the environment

42

48

+6

Improve race relations

44

49

+5

Improve the healthcare system

46

51

+5

Improve respect for America abroad

58

62

+4

Heal political divisions in this country

41

45

+4

Federal budget balanced

50

53

+3

Improve education

66

68

+2

Ensure the long term strength of the Social Security system

50

52

+2

Keep America prosperous

63

64

+1

One perhaps surprising change can be seen in Americans' views on Bush's ability to improve the quality of the environment. In mid-January, just 42% of Americans said that he would succeed in this area. Since then, Bush has been widely criticized for several environmental policy decisions, including proposed drilling for oil on public lands in Alaska, deciding the United States would not adhere to limits on carbon dioxide emissions called for in the Kyoto global warming treaty, and deciding not to regulate carbon dioxide emissions standards in power plants. Despite this criticism, the public's feeling that Bush can improve the environment has actually gone up, by 6% points, to 48% in the weekend poll. On a relative basis, the environment continues to be one of Bush's weak points, ranking near the bottom of the list of 12 policy goals, but it appears that, so far, his actions as president have actually improved, rather than worsened his positioning on this issue.

The biggest improvement in Bush's issue ratings has come in the area of taxes. Fifty-nine percent of Americans now believe he will succeed in cutting taxes, compared to 49% 100 days ago. Bush has made a tax cut plan a centerpiece of his administration's first months in office, including his February 27 address to the nation in which he called for a major tax cut. Perhaps most importantly, both Houses of Congress have already passed some form of tax cut plan, no doubt increasing the public's view that the odds of getting some sort of tax cut signed into law have improved. Currently, 56% of Americans favor Bush's proposed federal income taxes, and a majority of the public has consistently supported these throughout his tenure in office. Thirty-five percent of the public is opposed to the Bush tax cuts.

Americans have also become somewhat more confident that Bush will both increase respect for the presidency and improve moral values in the United States.

The rank ordering of the public's assessment of Bush's likelihood to accomplish each of the 12 objectives measured in January and last weekend has remained relatively constant. The public is most confident that Bush will be able to improve education, increase respect for the presidency, keep America prosperous (interestingly, given the worsening economy), improve respect for the United States abroad, improve moral values in America and cut taxes. The public is least optimistic that Bush will heal political divisions and improve the quality of the environment (even though, as noted, the percent of Americans saying that he will succeed in this controversial area has gone up since his inauguration, not down).

WILL/WILL NOT SUMMARY TABLE

 

Whether or not you support Bush, do you think the Bush administration will or will not be able to do each of the following?

2001 Apr 20-22
(sorted by "will be able to")

Will
be able to

Will not
be able to

%

%

Improve education

68

28

Increase respect for the presidency

68

28

Keep America prosperous

64

30

Improve respect for the United States abroad

62

34

Improve moral values in the United States

62

35

Cut your taxes

59

36

Keep the federal budget balanced

53

42

Ensure the long-term strength of the Social Security system

52

41

Improve the healthcare system

51

42

Improve race relations

49

44

Improve the quality of the environment

48

47

Heal political divisions in this country

45

49



Bush Generally Not Seen as Too Conservative
A good deal of discussion about Bush, both before his election and since he took office in January, has focused on the views of some that he has turned out to be too conservative in his policy decisions and actions, and the views of others -- from the right -- that he has not been conservative enough. The latest poll shows that about one in three Americans (35%) think Bush has been too conservative, while 41% say his views are "about right." These numbers have changed very little since the presidential campaign, when 30% to 40% thought Bush the candidate was too conservative. The latest poll shows 16% of Americans saying Bush is "too liberal." There is little difference in this perception according to ideology, as conservatives are no more likely than liberals or moderates to think President Bush has been too liberal.

A separate question addressed the matter more directly by asking Americans if Bush has been more conservative than they thought he would be. A majority -- 56% -- say he has not, but 36% say he has. The proportions are consistent for Republicans, Democrats and independents, though liberals and moderates are more likely to believe that Bush is more conservative than they thought he would be.

One of Bush's most significant potential problems is the perception of some that he is too tied into corporate America and big business -- an accusation that surfaced most recently in relationship to several of the Bush administration decisions on the environment. Asked about this directly, the American public strongly tends to concur with this criticism. Almost two-thirds of Americans agree that "big business has too much influence over the decisions made by the Bush administration." Opinion on this matter is strongly related to political affiliation. Nearly nine in 10 Democrats (86%) believe big business has too much influence over Bush's decisions, compared to just 39% of Republicans. Sixty-three percent of independents hold this view.

While the public generally agrees with that criticism of Bush, Americans generally do not agree with two others. Does Bush work hard enough as president, despite spending a lot of time on his ranch in Texas and by perhaps not appearing to be as much of a policy and detail-oriented leader as previous presidents? The public appears to have little agreement with this line of thought. Americans overwhelmingly believe that Bush is in fact "working hard enough to be an effective president," a view expressed by 70% of Americans in the latest poll. Only 26% think that he is not working hard enough.

The second criticism of Bush is that he relies on others -- especially vice president Dick Cheney -- to make key decisions for the administration. A majority of Americans, 51%, currently thinks that Bush "is making the decisions a president should make," while 43% think others are making the decisions he should make. While it is significant that four of out 10 Americans still agree that he is not as much in charge as he should be, there has been a shift in this sentiment within his first 100 days in office. A January 15-16 poll showed that 52% of Americans thought others would make the decisions a president should make while 45% thought Bush would. The current perceptions, as noted, have shifted, and now a slight majority believes that he is adequately in charge.

Survey Methods

The results below are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1015 adults, 18 years and older, conducted April 20-22, 2001. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?

 

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       

2001 Apr 20-22

62

29

9

       

2001 Apr 6-8

59

30

11

2001 Mar 26-28

53

29

18

2001 Mar 9-11

58

29

13

2001 Mar 5-7

63

22

15

2001 Feb 19-21

62

21

17

2001 Feb 9-11

57

25

18

2001 Feb 1-4

57

25

18



Do you approve or disapprove of the way Dick Cheney is handling his job as vice president?

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       

2001 Apr 20-22

63

21

16



Do you think the policies being proposed by George W. Bush will move the country in the right direction or the wrong direction?

 

Right direction

Wrong direction

No opinion

National Adults

(NA) 2001 Apr 20-22

55

34

11

(NA) 2001 Jan 15-16 ^

56

36

8

(NA) 2000 Aug 18-19

55

36

9

(NA) 2000 Apr 7-9

51

31

18

(NA) 1999 Oct 8-10

64

27

9

Registered Voters

(RV) 2001 Jan 15-16 ^

57

36

7

(RV) 2000 Oct 20-22

53

38

9

(RV) 2000 Sep 28-30

51

36

13

(RV) 2000 Sep 8-10

49

36

15

(RV) 2000 Sep 7-9

49

33

18

(NA) 2000 Aug 18-19

57

35

8

(NA) 2000 Apr 7-9

51

33

16

(NA) 1999 Oct 8-10

63

29

8

^ WODING: Do you think the policies being proposed by George W. Bush would move the country in the right direction or the wrong direction?

1999-2000 GEORGE W. BUSH WORDING: Next, do you think the policies being proposed by each of the following presidential candidates would move the country in the right direction or in the wrong direction? How about…[Al Gore, George W. Bush]?



Next I have some questions about the Bush administration which took office in January. Whether or not you support Bush, do you think the Bush administration will or will not be able to do each of the following? How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

BASED ON -- 515 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B; ±5 PCT. PTS.

A. Keep the federal budget balanced

 

Will

Will not

No opinion

George W. Bush

2001 Apr 20-22

53

42

5

2001 Jan 15-16

50

46

4

Bill Clinton

1993 Feb 16-17 ^

50

45

5

1993 Feb 12-14 ^

46

48

6

1992 Nov 10-11 ^

38

54

8

George Bush, the elder

1989 Jan 24-25 ^

39

46

15

1988 Nov 14-Dec 4

33

52

15

^

WORDING: Reduce the federal budget deficit



B. Keep America prosperous

 

Will

Will not

No opinion

George W. Bush

2001 Apr 20-22

64

30

6

2001 Jan 15-16

63

33

4

George Bush, the elder

1989 Jan 24-25

74

15

10

1988 Nov 14-Dec 4

65

23

12



C. Improve respect for the United States abroad

 

Will

Will not

No opinion

George W. Bush

2001 Apr 20-22

62

34

4

2001 Jan 15-16

58

38

4

Bill Clinton

1992 Nov 10-11 ^

50

40

10

George Bush, the elder

1989 Jan 24-25 ^

74

15

11

1988 Nov 14-Dec 4 ^

64

24

12

Ronald Reagan

1980 Nov 21-24 ^

62

24

14

^

WORDING: Increase respect for the United States abroad



Q.6 CONTINUED

D. Improve education

 

Will

Will not

No opinion

George W. Bush

2001 Apr 20-22

68

28

4

2001 Jan 15-16

66

32

2

Bill Clinton

1992 Nov 10-11

69

25

6

George Bush, the elder

1988 Nov 14-Dec 4

61

30

9



E. Improve the quality of the environment

 

Will

Will not

No opinion

George W. Bush

2001 Apr 20-22

48

47

5

2001 Jan 15-16

42

52

6

Bill Clinton

1992 Nov 10-11

64

29

7

George Bush, the elder

1989 Jan 24-25

62

26

12

1988 Nov 14-Dec 4

50

36

14



F. Cut your taxes

 

Will

Will not

No opinion

George W. Bush

2001 Apr 20-22

59

36

5

2001 Jan 15-16

49

46

5

Bill Clinton

1993 Feb 12-14 ^

15

82

3

1992 Nov 10-11 ^

20

74

6

George Bush, the elder

1989 Jan 24-25 ^

29

64

8

1988 Nov 14-Dec 4 ^

24

68

8

^

WORDING: Avoid raising your taxes



Q.6 CONTINUED

G. Ensure the long-term strength of the Social Security system

 

Will

Will not

No opinion

2001 Apr 20-22

52

41

7

2001 Jan 15-16

50

44

6



H. Improve race relations

 

Will

Will not

No opinion

2001 Apr 20-22

49

44

7

2001 Jan 15-16

44

51

5



I. Increase respect for the presidency

 

Will

Will not

No opinion

2001 Apr 20-22

68

28

4

2001 Jan 15-16

61

36

3



J. Improve moral values in the United States

 

Will

Will not

No opinion

2001 Apr 20-22

62

35

3

2001 Jan 15-16

55

41

4



K. Heal political divisions in this country

 

Will

Will not

No opinion

2001 Apr 20-22

45

49

6

2001 Jan 15-16

41

53

6



L. Improve the health care system

 

Will

Will not

No opinion

George W. Bush

2001 Apr 20-22

51

42

7

2001 Jan 15-16

46

49

5

Bill Clinton

1992 Nov 10-11

64

30

6



Q.6 CONTINUED

WILL/WILL NOT SUMMARY TABLE

 

2001 Apr 20-22
(sorted by "will be able to")

Will
be able to

Will not
be able to

Improve education

68

28

Increase respect for the presidency

68

28

Keep America prosperous

64

30

Improve respect for the United States abroad

62

34

Improve moral values in the United States

62

35

Cut your taxes

59

36

Keep the federal budget balanced

53

42

Ensure the long-term strength of the Social Security system

52

41

Improve the health care system

51

42

Improve race relations

49

44

Improve the quality of the environment

48

47

Heal political divisions in this country

45

49



 

2001 JAN 15-17 WORDING: Next I have some questions about the Bush administration which will take office later this month. Regardless of which presidential candidate you preferred, do you think the Bush administration will or will not be able to do each of the following? How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?



Do you think George W. Bush's political views are too conservative, about right, or too liberal?

BASED ON -- 500 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A; ±5 PCT. PTS.

 

 

Too conservative

About right

Too liberal

No opinion

         

2001 Apr 20-22

35

41

16

8

         

2000 Aug 18-19 ^

40

41

12

7

2000 Aug 4-5 ^

30

50

13

7

2000 Jul 25-26 ^ †

30

45

12

13

2000 Mar 10-12 ^

30

47

14

9

2000 Feb 25-27 ^

33

38

16

13

2000 Jan 17-19 ^

27

45

12

16

1999 Oct 8-10 ^

27

50

16

7

         

^ WORDING: For each of the following candidates, please say whether you think his political views are too conservative, about right, or too liberal. How about... [ROTATED: Al Gore/George W. Bush]?

† Based on 522 National Adults; margin of error +/- 5 Pct. Pts.



Have George W. Bush's policies since he became president been more conservative than you thought they would be, or not?

BASED ON -- 515 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B; ±5 PCT. PTS.

 

Yes, more conservative


No, not

No
opinion

       

2001 Apr 20-22

36

56

8



Do you think President Bush is or is not working hard enough to be an effective president?

 

Is

Is not

No opinion

       

2001 Apr 20-22

70

26

4



Which of the following comes closer to your view -- [ROTATED: George W. Bush is personally making the decisions in his administration that a president should make, (or) other people aside from George W. Bush are making the decisions in his administration that a president should make]?

 

Bush will make
the decisions

Other people will
make the decisions

No
opinion

2001 Apr 20-22

51

43

6

2001 Jan 15-16 ^

45

52

3

^

WORDING: Which of the following comes closer to your view -- [ROTATED: George W. Bush will personally make the decisions in his administration that a president should make, (or) other people aside from George W. Bush will make the decisions in his administration that a president should make]?



Do you think big business does or does not have too much influence over the decisions made by the Bush administration?

 

 

Yes, does

No, does not

No opinion

       

2001 Apr 20-22

63

30

7



Subscribe to receive weekly Gallup News alerts.
Never miss our latest insights.


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/1768/after-100-days-publics-perceptions-bush-remarkably-unchanged.aspx
Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030