Dean Seen as More Liberal than Other Leading Candidates; Economy and Anti-Terrorism Top Public’s Policy Agenda

Source Organization: Pew Research Center


01/15/2004 - Americans view Howard Dean as more liberal than the other leading Democratic candidates and far more liberal than the way they see themselves.

For his part, President Bush is seen as quite conservative and is somewhat further from the ideological self-perception of the average American than are several leading Democratic candidates, like Wesley Clark, Richard Gephardt and John Kerry.

The Pew Research Center's new nationwide poll shows that, ideologically, Dean is seen as a bit further from the average American than Bush, but that is largely due to Dean's extremely liberal image among Republicans. Independents rate both Dean and Bush as equally far from their own ideological self-assessments. The survey shows that Bush is starting the election year in a strong position. He has a 10-point lead in a match-up with a generic Democrat. In addition, an increasing number of Americans believe he will prevail in the fall.

Domestic concerns are making a comeback in the public's policy agenda. Overall, the economy and anti-terrorism top the agenda, but there is growing concern over the deficit, the environment, education and other domestic issues. A plurality of Americans (45%) believe the economy is recovering and the survey shows that the economic landscape for Bush is far more favorable than his father confronted in 1992. But the limited availability of jobs remains a stubborn concern.

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