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The Numbers: raw poll data
But Republican prospects for 1998 midterm election still look goodBy Keating Holland/CNN
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Oct. 30) -- The latest CNN poll contains some good news for Bill Clinton and Al Gore, which may help brighten the Democratic party's prospects in next year's congressional elections.
After watching their favorable ratings fall repeatedly over the past two months, Clinton and Gore are seeing their ratings take an upturn, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll.
Most Americans, however, continue to have a negative view of House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Seven out of ten Americans say that Clinton's presidency has been a success, while only 46 percent say that the Republican Congress has been a success.
More than half -- 59 percent -- say they are more likely to vote for a congressional candidate next year who opposes Gingrich, while nearly half say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports Clinton.
That is significant because just before the 1994 election, which turned control of Congress over to the GOP, a majority of Americans said they were more likely to support candidates who opposed Clinton. If the 1998 election turns out to be a referendum on Clinton, he may help his party's candidates almost as much as he hurt them in 1994.
Keep in mind, however, that Democrats are battling a historical trend: The president's party has lost seats in the House of Representatives in every midterm election in the last six decades.
And the GOP is in a better position this year than the Democrats were in 1994. Back then, only 39 percent of the country thought that most members of the House deserved to be re-elected, which proved to be bad news for the Democrats, who held a majority of House seats.
Today, 50 percent say that most of the House deserves re-election. Incumbents are also helped by a strong economy, and nearly eight in ten Americans say the economy is in good shape. That number has risen since August, despite fluctuations in the stock market.
The two major parties have nearly identical favorable ratings, although the Reform Party of Ross Perot, which will hold a convention Friday, is not a hit with the public.
The bottom line: 46 percent of all registered voters would vote for the Republican candidate in their district if the election were held today; 46 percent would vote for the Democratic candidate.
That tie may be good news for the GOP, if it can keep the focus off national leaders, like the popular president and the unpopular speaker of the House, and on local issues instead.
Just as Gore's favorable rating has stabilized, so has the number of Americans who consider him honest and trustworthy. In September that figure fell by 10 points; it has risen slightly to 56 percent.
A thin majority also considers Clinton honest and trustworthy. But half the country also thinks that Clinton is trying to cover up what he really did in his fund-raising activities; in March the public was split evenly on that issue.
Nearly two-thirds of the country thinks that Attorney General Janet Reno should appoint an independent counsel to investigate Democratic fund-raising in 1996.
The survey of 1,008 adult Americans, including 878 registered voters, was conducted October 27-29, and most questions have a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.
President Clinton Is America's Most Admired Man (12/30/97)
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