A look at some opinion polls --political, entertainment, faith

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Business TodayCalifornia would re-elect Bush

President Bush lost California by 1.3 million votes in the 2000 election, but a new poll shows the majority of California voters are inclined to re-elect him.

The Field Poll also showed that Bush would defeat Democrat Al Gore in a rematch in California.

When the nonpartisan public opinion survey asked California voters how inclined they were to vote for the president's re-election in 2004, 52 percent said they were inclined to vote for him, compared with 42 percent who said they were not. The remaining 6 percent had no opinion.

Republicans are overwhelmingly inclined to re-elect Bush, at 87 percent. But a surprising number of Democrats, 26 percent, said they would vote for him as well. Among independents and members of minor political parties, 43 percent were inclined to vote for Bush and 51 percent were not.

Two years ago, Gore defeated Bush by 12 percentage points in California, even though Bush spent more than $15 million on television ads in the state and the former vice president spent nothing.

Today, 48 percent of California voters would vote for Bush to 41 percent for Gore, the Field Poll found.

The Field Poll is based on telephone interviews with 705 registered California voters conducted April 19-25. Statistically, the poll would be accurate 95 percent of the time within a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.Majority won't watch Clinton talk show

NBC executives who think it's a great idea to pay impeached ex-president Bill Clinton $50 million to host a TV talk show apparently haven't consulted with visitors to the network's news Web site. More than 6,500 readers responded to a recent online poll conducted by MSNBC.com -- with a solid majority turning thumbs down on the idea.

Responding to the question "If Bill Clinton hosted a television talk show what would you do?"

Fifty-two percent said they would "tune out" and 40 percent said they would "tune in," with 8 percent saying they would "wait and see."

With numbers like that, a $50 million price tag seems more than a little excessive -- even for such a mega celebrity as the first elected U.S. president ever to be indicted by Congress. Americans credit faith for nation's strength

Most Americans say the United States is a Christian nation and religious faith is the basis of the nation's strength, according to a new poll.

The recent survey, released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, also found that Americans were worried religion might be losing influence in the nation, while Southerners were most likely to agree that the United States enjoyed "special protection from God."

While Americans strongly believe in the importance of religion, they are also tolerant -- 84 percent say religious belief isn't necessary to be a good American citizen.

Tolerance extends to all religions, the survey finds. Despite the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and recent Palestinian bombings in Israel, most Americans (54 percent) have a favorable opinion of Muslim Americans and a majority (51 percent) do not believe that Islam encourages violence.

Among the survey's findings:

*Two-thirds -- 67 percent -- of Americans say the United States is a Christian nation, and 58 percent say America's strength is based on religious faith.

*A plurality of Americans (48 percent) say the United States has "special protection from God," versus 40 percent who disagree. America's "special protection" by God was supported by majorities of blacks (58 percent), Hispanics (56 percent), women (55 percent), Republicans (57 percent), Southerners (57 percent) and white evangelicals (71 percent).

*Though 75 percent say "many religions can lead to eternal life," 54 percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of atheists. The Northeast was the most tolerant of unbelief, with 43 percent holding favorable views of atheists, while 66 percent of Southerners disapproved of atheists.

*A majority (52 percent) say religion's influence on American life is declining and, by more than an 8-1 margin, Americans indicate they want religion to have a greater influence. The South retains its Bible Belt reputation, with 70 percent of Southerners saying religion is important in raising moral children and that religion is the basis of America's strength.

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