Presidential Preference: Feds Differ From Most Americans

A recent poll showed most readers support Democratic candidates. Results are considerably different than nationwide polls showing strong support for the President.

Will President Bush win a second term? In a recent national poll, 61% said they thought he would be re-elected. In the same poll, a nationwide sampling was asked which Democrat would be the preferred candidate.

To test Federal readers, we decided to ask the same questions. The results will surprise some readers.

In a nutshell, in our sampling of about 700 readers, 47% thought President Bush would win a second term. Obviously, this is substantially less than the nationwide poll noted above in which 61% thought he would be re-elected. Moreover, a majority of our respondents would vote for leading Democratic candidates over President Bush. That also differs substantially from recent national polls that showed the President winning against any Democratic candidate.

For example, 42% of respondents in the Fedsmith poll would vote for Joe Lieberman and 41% would vote for George Bush. 45% of respondents would vote for Dick Gephardt and 41% would vote for George Bush. And, in what may be the biggest surprise of all, 47% would vote for John Kerry and 39% would vote for George Bush.

This is surprising when compared with similar match-ups in a national poll from last month:

Bush 58% v. Kerry 29%

Bush 57% v. Lieberman 31%

Bush 56% v. Gephardt 30%

Obviously there are striking differences between the public as a whole and readers which, for the most part are active or retired Federal employees.

There are several possible reasons for this. One possibility is that the average Federal worker is considerably more liberal and more Democratic than the nation as a whole. Another possibility is that recent issues have gotten attention of some Federal employees who think they should receive more money or are concerned about their jobs because of the emphasis on contracting with private sector companies.

One result that reflects other recent polls: relatively strong support for John Kerry with 16% of respondents picking him as the Democrat most likely to receive their vote. 12% picked Joe Lieberman and 9% picked Dick Gephardt. 23% said they would not vote for any of the Democratic candidates and 19% were not sure who would receive their vote.

Another possibility is that the average Federal employee responding to our survey sees his or her self-interest as being better served by the Democrats. Here are a few uncut and uncensored comments from readers (we received hundreds of comments so these are only a sampling) both supporting the President and those who support his opponents.

A retired NASA employee from Florida wrote, in part:

“Feds are among the highest paid employee group, yet they carp incessantly about their sorry lot in life. If they are so underpaid, overworked, abused, etc., then why don’t they quit and get that higher paid job they all seem to believe is out there in the private sector? Because they know better, but cannot seem to escape their culture of playing the downtrodden victim. Keep up the good work, President Bush!”

An auditor from the Defense Contract Audit Agency in Connecticut told us:

“We need George Bush to win the war on terrorism & to reduce taxes.”

And a Program Manager from the Forest Service in Denver also supported the President and said:

“I do not agree with everything the President has done, but I feel I can still trust him. Most of the Democrat candidates are to socialistic and think the Federal Treasury is a candy store for give aways”.

A Marine Corps employee in Virginia wrote:

“George Bush is an outstanding President and man with a strong sense of ethics, morals, values and strength. He is what we needed for a long time. It will take a long time to undo the damage that President Clinton left. I hope future Democrates will follow Bush’s lead rather than Clinton’s. Clinton made me ashamed to be an American and embarrassed to show my face outside of my country.”

On the other hand, a number of readers are concerned about contracting Federal jobs and Federal pay. A number of readers said they would support most Democrats over the President because of these two issues. A management analyst with the Navy in Pensacola, FL said:

“Voting for Bush (even though I’m a registered republican) is almost like cutting my own throat. This is especially true in view of his draconian outlook toward civil service employees and desires for contracting.”

A Department of Interior employee in Denver said something similar:

“Any Federal employee who votes for George Bush must not be aware of what is at stake if Bush wins. Federal employees need to be aware of how close many of them are nearly losing their careers because of the Republicans feelings about federal employees.”

A VA psychologist from Georgia feels even more strongly and said:

“[President Bush’s] policies would return the contry to sweat shops, 60 hour work weeks and political patronage.

Another VA employee from Oregon takes a more extreme view and obviously does not intend to vote for President Bush:

“I would not and did not vote for Bush whom I consider to be akin to Hitler, except Bush does what he does in the name of “freedom.” I feel that Bush is out of control and on a power trip and needs to be stopped and stopped quickly before he puts this nation further into debt and gives our country such a bad name to the rest of the world that we can never recover from.”

And an Air Force employee from Albuquerque reflects the apparent thinking of some Democrats with his view that:

“George Bush is the most dangerous president in our history.”

Politics is a national past-time with some and Federal employees have strong opinions about national elections. From the results of this survey and others we have run in recent months, Federal employees tend to come out on the left side of the political spectrum compared to the American public as a whole. This recent poll reflects this general tendency in the Federal workforce.

As we get closer to the national elections, we will conduct occasional surveys to keep in touch with our readers and how they come out on these national issues.

Thanks to all of our readers who took the time to submit their votes and send us their opinions.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47