Bill Clinton Bests Former Presidents to Handle Crisis Today, Newsmax/Zogby Poll Finds

Sunday, 07 Mar 2010 06:35 PM

By Jim Meyers

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If Americans could have a former living U.S. president run the country and deal with the problems facing the nation today, they would pick Bill Clinton by a wide margin, a Newsmax/Zogby poll reveals.

Former President Jimmy Carter came in last, garnering just 5 percent of support for his taking charge.

The exclusive Newsmax/Zogby poll also found that, if an election took place today between Barack Obama and George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton, Obama would beat both handily.

The Newsmax/Zogby poll asked respondents: “Of the current living former presidents, which do you think is best equipped to deal with the problems the country faces today?”

Bill Clinton got 41 percent of the vote, trouncing the others in the field of four. George W. Bush received just 15 percent, George H.W. Bush got 7 percent, and Jimmy Carter, just 5 percent. (Only 7 percent of Democrats surveyed opted for Carter.) But 26 percent chose “none,” and 5 percent were “not sure” (figures are rounded).

Clinton finished first among Democrats with a solid 69 percent, and among independents (40 percent). George W. Bush far outpaced Clinton among Republicans, 37 percent to 8 percent, although 33 percent of Republicans chose “none.”

Clinton also finished first among all age groups, all races, all religions, and both sexes, with a stronger showing among women (46 percent) than men (36 percent).

Pollster John Zogby said: “Bill Clinton is an interesting choice among ‘living former presidents’ because arguably he is the only one listed who did not face a huge national crisis. The Clinton years were dominated by peace and prosperity – unlike the Carter, George H.W. and George W. Bush years – and that is certainly part of the charm.

“But Clinton maintains the reputation of being the smartest guy in the room and exudes that kind of confidence. He was re-elected and had significant crossover support in 1996 and Americans appreciate his post-presidency as well.”

When all living presidents, including Obama, were listed as choices, Obama — despite his current low approval ratings — finished first with 29 percent of the vote, followed by Clinton with a strong second (19 percent), George W. Bush (18 percent), George H.W. Bush (8 percent), and Carter (2 percent).

But among respondents who believe the U.S. is on the “wrong track,” just 4 percent chose Obama, while 31 percent chose George W. Bush, and 33 percent said “none.”

Obama finished ahead of the other living presidents in all age groups, scoring the highest (30 percent) among respondents 65 and over.

He scored highest among Democrats (58 percent), but Clinton finished first among independents (24 percent) and George W. Bush was ahead among Republicans (41 percent).

Interestingly, despite his calls for higher taxes for the rich, Obama was ahead even among respondents with an income of $100,000 or more, winning 30 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 19 percent.

Among union members, Obama held a 21-point edge over his closest competitor, Clinton, but he had only a 7-point lead among respondents who are not in a labor union.

Hillary vs. Obama for President

The Newsmax/Zogby poll also asked: “If an election for president were held today between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, for whom would you vote?”

The results: 38 percent chose Obama, 30 percent opted for Clinton, 29 percent said neither, and 4 percent were not sure.

Obama finished ahead of Clinton among Democrats by a large margin, 67 percent to 23 percent. But surprisingly, Clinton far outpaced Obama among Republicans, 33 percent to 6 percent; 60 percent chose “neither.”

Independents also favored Clinton, but by a very narrow margin.

Another twist: Hillary fared better with men than with women. She topped Obama among men by a margin of 35 percent to 32 percent, while Obama won 44 percent of the women’s vote, compared with 26 percent for Clinton.

Obama Still Beats Bush

Despite Obama’s weakening popularity, Americans still would elect him president if he were in an electoral showdown with former President George W. Bush.

Asked whom they would chose if a presidential election took place today between Obama and Bush, 48 percent said Obama, 38 percent chose Bush, 12 percent said neither, and 2 were not sure.

Interestingly, Obama still nabs a large proportion of self-described independents, pulling 42 percent of these voters. Only 33 percent said they would opt for Bush.

Bush did beat out Obama among Protestants and those who attend church services regularly.

John Zogby said: “Despite the turbulent crises that face Barack Obama and the sense of dashed expectations that Americans, especially independents and moderates, feel, he still handily defeats George W. Bush in a face-off.

Why? Bush still has the reputation of being a failed president – and not simply because of the economy and wars he left behind. Conservatives are still angry that he created a crisis of overspending and served with a Republican Congress that enjoyed doling out pork a tad too much.

“Americans, like everyone else on this planet, also like their wars to be won and done and Bush had not one but two wars that were without end.

“One thing to note from the numbers: Independents are significantly more likely to be conservative than liberal, so Obama defeating George W. Bush among independents is as much a statement about jilted conservatives as it is about a pro-Obama factor.”

Zogby International was commissioned by Newsmax Media Inc. to conduct an online survey of 3,975 likely voters. However, the question omitting Obama and including only the four living ex-presidents was submitted to 2,805 likely voters.

A sampling of Zogby International's online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the U.S., was invited to participate from 2/26/10 to 3/01/10. Slight weights were added to party, age, race, and gender to more accurately reflect the population. The margin of error is +/- 1.8 percentage points for the question omitting Obama, and 1.6 points for the other questions. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

Zogby International, a worldwide research and marketing firm, was founded by John Zogby in 1984. He has been called “prince of pollsters” by radio host Mary Matalin, and “America’s Pollmaster General” by radio legend Barry Gray. He is president and CEO of Zogby International, and a Senior Advisor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.


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