The Kiss
People Split over Vice President Gore's Spontaneity

About half of men and women told Opinion Dynamics/Fox News in late August that they saw Vice President Al Gore's famous kiss. Among the women who saw it, 27 percent thought it was spontaneous, and 16 percent a planned political move. Twenty percent of men thought it was spontaneous, 24 percent planned.

Adam Clymer Attitudes

In their early September poll for Time and CNN, Yankelovich Partners interviewers told people that Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) was heard "using a vulgarity referring to a New York Times reporter." Seven percent of those polled said it made them feel more favorably toward Bush and 27 percent said it made them feel less favorably. However, a majority said it didn't change their view of him.

When Princeton Survey Research Associates, in an early September poll for Newsweek, told people that "An open microphone caught George W. Bush making a vulgar remark about a New York Times reporter," 10 percent said the incident made them feel more favorably toward Bush, 27 percent less favorably and 54 percent said it made no difference to them. Solid majorities of independents and Republicans as well as a plurality of Democrats said it didn't matter.

God, the Campaign

When NBC News/Wall Street Journal interviewers told people in early September that "There has been more discussion of religion and God in this year's presidential campaign than in any other recent campaign," 63 percent said this is good for the country and 21 percent said it's bad.

Tax Cuts: It's How You Word the Question

Most polls show that people would rather use the budget surplus for domestic programs like education and Social Security or reducing the national debt than cutting taxes. Many pollsters also find that voters prefer targeted tax cuts to an across-the-board cut. However, how questions are worded can affect results.

In their early September poll, Opinion Dynamics and Fox News pollsters found that 51 percent think Gore would be more likely to raise their taxes, and 29 percent said Bush would make this move. In another question in the poll, 46 percent agreed with Gore, who "says he wants most of the current federal budget surplus to remain with the government to be spent on programs in areas such as health care and education that he claims will help working families."

Forty-five percent sided with Bush, who "says that the government has been overtaxing families and that's why there is a surplus. He wants most of the surplus to be returned to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts, which he claims will enable working families to solve their own problems."

In the early September CBS/New York Times poll, 30 percent thought that if Gore were elected he would be likely to reduce taxes, but twice that number said he would not. Forty-nine percent said Bush would be likely to reduce taxes, but 44 percent said he would not be likely to do so.

In the Opinion Dynamics/Fox News Sept. 20 and 21 poll, only 20 percent said that "when politicians talk about 'targeted tax cuts,'" it means that they would get a tax cut. Sixty-one percent said someone else would benefit from this plan.

Military Readiness

Fifty percent of those polled by CBS News/New York Times interviewers in early September said the military has weakened over the past eight years and 14 percent said it is stronger. Thirty percent said it hasn't changed either way. ABC News/Washington Post results from early September showed that 47 percent of voters believe the military has weakened in the past eight years, 12 percent think it is stronger and 40 percent said it's about the same.

In the Pew Research Center's late August/early September poll, 34 percent said defense spending should be increased, 48 percent said it should be kept about the same and 14 percent said it should be cut back. Forty percent in the late August Gallup poll said we are spending too little for defense and military purposes.

Class Warfare

In early September, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal told people, "As you may know, Al Gore has been attacking drug companies, insurance companies, oil companies and HMOs. Supporters of Al Gore say these attack ads show that he will fight for working people, against special interests. Critics of Al Gore say these attacks show he is using class warfare for political purposes." Forty-six percent agreed with Gore supporters, while 42 percent agreed with Gore critics.

Debate Fatigue: 1960

Thirty-nine percent told Gallup in 1960 that they didn't have much interest in watching the first televised debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. This past June, 69 percent told Pew they plan to watch the debates; 27 percent said they will not.

Karlyn H. Bowman is a resident fellow at AEI.

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About the Author


  • Karlyn Bowman compiles and analyzes American public opinion using available polling data on a variety of subjects, including the economy, taxes, the state of workers in America, environment and global warming, attitudes about homosexuality and gay marriage, NAFTA and free trade, the war in Iraq, and women's attitudes. In addition, Ms. Bowman has studied and spoken about the evolution of American politics because of key demographic and geographic changes. She has often lectured on the role of think tanks in the United States and writes a weekly column for
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    Name: Andrew Rugg
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