Ipsos-Reid/Cook Political Report: It's All Tied Up and There's Nothing Bush Can Do About It

Congressional Party Control Preference is 45% Democrats, 44% Republicans Among Likely Voters. Bush is a Weak Force Affecting Vote Decisions Heading Into Final Weekend

Between and October 25 and 31, 2002, Ipsos-Reid US Public Affairs interviewed a representative sample of 2,000 adults nationwide, including 1,533 registered voters and 1,014 likely voters. The margin of error for the combined surveys is +/- 2.2% for all adults, +/- 2.6% for registered voters and +/- 3.1% for likely voters.

Washington, D.C. -- The voters who are the most likely to participate on Election Day Tuesday approach the polls evenly divided on the question of which party they would like to see control Congress, according to the most recent Ipsos-Reid/Cook Political Report Poll.

And if the election for Congress were held today, would you want to see the Republicans or Democrats win control of Congress?

Three patterns dominate attitudes heading into the final campaign weekend.

  • Bush is a weak force. Republicans do not benefit from the fact that a majority continue to approve of Bush's handling of the job of President and the economy. Even though 63% of all likely voters (although only 48% of the oldest likely voters born in 1929 or earlier, our most faithful voting group) approve of Bush's handling of the job as President, and majorities of likely voters also approve of his handling of the economy (54%), other domestic issues (54%) and foreign policy and the war on terrorism (64%), far fewer than half (44%) want to see Republicans in control of Congress. It is probably too late for Republicans to recapture those who approve of Bush but not enough to give him a Republican congress.
  • Women are voting the war, and they don't like it. Women are as likely as men to approve of the way Bush is handling the economy and other domestic issues, but slightly less likely than men to approve of his handling of the job of President overall and much less likely to approve of his handling of foreign policy and the war on terrorism. As a result, likely voters who are men favor Republican control of Congress by 50%-41%, while likely voters who are women favor Democrats by 49%-39%.
  • The Depression-Era Babies are not happy, and they vote. Voters born in 1929 or earlier (age 73 or older on Election Day) are less likely to approve of anything Bush is doing as President, and a majority of our elder voters would like to see Democrats take charge of Congress (52% of likely voters over age 73 prefer Democrats, 38% Republicans). For these older voters, it's the economy--they are significantly less likely than any other age group to approve of Bush's economic policies.

At this stage, undecided voters are more women than men, and Bush has less appeal to women than men. Voters most likely to participate are older voters, rather than Baby Boomers or younger voters, and again, Bush's appeal is limited when it comes to voters age 73 or older, the most faithful participants on Election Day. And overall, the story of Election 2002 seems to be a failure of Bush to translate high approval ratings into support for a Republican Congress, just as much as it is a failure of Democrats to translate high anxiety about the economy into opposition to Bush's economic policies.

The result of those two failures--a standoff, a tie, another close election.

Editors Note: Stay Tuned Ipsos-Reid/Cook Political Report Poll final pre-election results will be released on November 4, based on polls conducted Oct 28-31 and Nov 1-3.

    For more information on this release, please contact: Thomas Riehle President Ipsos-Reid US Public Affairs 202.463.7300

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