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Zogby Year-End Poll: Democratic Prospects Brighten Heading Into 2006 - GOP lags
December 14, 2005
  • McCain's Star Burns Bright; Hillary's,Too
  • More Say They Are Better Off
  • War in Iraq Dominates Issues
  • Wanted: Candidates Moving to the Middle

A key measurement of partisan advantage in the United States Congress shows Democrats with a substantial lead in public opinion as the nation heads into 2006 and the important mid-term election season, a new Zogby International survey shows.

Asked if they would "definitely" or "probably" vote for the Democrat or Republican in next year's fall congressional election, 48% said the Democrat would get their support, compared to 40% who said they would vote for the Republican. While 3% said they plan on supporting a third-party candidate, 9% said they were unsure.

The year-end survey by Zogby International included 1013 interviews nationwide, and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

The poll shows weakness for Republicans among demographic groups that are typically supportive. In "red" states that favored George W. Bush in the presidential election last year, generic congressional Republicans hold a 46% to 43% advantage over their generic Democratic counterparts. But in "blue" states won by Democrat John Kerry last year, the Democratic lead is much larger – there the congressional Democrat leads by a 54% to 34% margin.

Republicans hold a narrow 45% to 43% lead over Democrats among married respondents, who typically favor Republicans by much larger margins. Catholics, whose support for Mr. Bush last year was of key importance, now support congressional Democrats by ten percent, 45% to 35%.

The survey shows that, should President Bush campaign for a congressional candidate, 51% of self-identified independents would be less likely to support that candidate, while just 22% would be more likely to support him. Vice President Cheney has a similar effect.

The one Republican with real appeal across the political spectrum is Arizona Sen. John McCain. If he campaigns for a candidate, 55% of Republicans, 53% of Democrats, and 58% of independents would be more likely to support that candidate.

"That's remarkable," said Mr. Zogby. "This next year, look for John McCain to be coming to a theater near you."

Zogby International has conducted public opinion surveys for Mr. McCain in the past.

For Democratic counterpart Hillary Clinton, the news is not as good. Appearing for another congressional candidate, 63% of Democrats would be more inclined to support that candidate, but she would scare away more independents than she would attract, the poll shows.

While it is very early in the 2008 presidential sweepstakes, the poll shows Sens. McCain and Clinton ahead in primary match-ups against others. McCain narrowly leads former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice among Republicans, while Clinton laps the Democratic Party field, more than doubling the support of second-place John Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina.

In a McCain-Clinton presidential face-off, McCain wins easily, 52% to 37%, with 11% either unsure or favoring another candidate.

More people than not feel their personal financial situation here at the end of the year is now better than it was 12 months ago. While 27% said they were better off, 20% said they were worse off, and 52% said they were about the same as a year ago.

But optimism abounds heading into 2006, as more than twice as many respondents said they expect to be better off than worse off one year from now. Fully one-third (34%) said they expect things to get better in the coming year, while just 14% predicted things will get worse. One in two said things will remain about the same.

The survey showed the war in Iraq is far and away the most important issue to voters. A majority of Democrats (60%) say they "strongly oppose" it, as do 41% of union households and 40% of those households containing a member of the military.

"President Bush wanted his presidency to be all about the war in Iraq, and that's exactly what it is," Mr. Zogby said.

Asked if the war was worth it, the nation is badly split. While 78% of Democrats said "no," 54% of independents said "no," but just 14% of Republicans said it was not. A plurality (48%) said the U.S. should begin a phased pull-out from Iraq in the next few months, while just 13% said a withdrawal should start immediately because U.S. soldiers are now the target of the insurgency. Another 37% said U.S. troops should stay until Iraqi soldiers are trained to deal with insurgents because to do otherwise would encourage the insurgents and could lead to a terrorist state there.

A majority (54%) said they believe the war in Iraq will be won by the U.S., and the same percentage believe the U.S. will win the war on terror.

Democrats want their leaders to make modest compromises on their principles in order to win over voters from the middle of the political spectrum, while most Republicans want their leaders to stand firm on issues, even if it means losing moderate support, the poll shows. While 61% of Democrats agreed it was better to compromise to win broader support, just 44% of Republicans agreed. Independents, by a 58% majority, agreed that softening some ideological stances to attract moderates was the best strategy.

The survey showed that 93% of Independents, 63% of Republicans, and 79% of Democrats wanted candidates who were independent of party leaders and were willing to compromise to get things done.


If McCain hadn't voted for war he'd be a worthy candidate for 2008, but that fact and the fact that he supports teaching pseudo science (intelligent design) in schools makes him unfit to lead the nation. However, I admire his opposition to torture, considering torture is in vogue these days. In the old world order, torture wouldn't even be debated so this single issues reminds us how far the US has fallen under GW and GOP control of congress.

McCain and Clinton have to admit they were wrong about Iraq or they're finished.