Federal Readers Select Bush Over Dean in Poll

FedSmith.com readers expressed a preference for George Bush over Howard Dean in the latest FedSmith.com poll.

Last week we asked readers of FedSmith.com to tell us who would receive their vote for president in a race between George Bush and Howard Dean.

The poll was taken shortly after the capture of Saddam Hussein and also shortly after the endorsement of Howard Dean by former vice-president Al Gore. At least partly because of Gore’s endorsement, recent polls show Dean as the preferred candidate from among those seeking the Democratic nomination.

In previous FedSmith.com polls, readers have expressed more liberal views than those of the general population on some political issues. For example, last June we asked readers whether they would vote for George Bush or one of several of the stronger Democratic candidates at that time. President Bush finished second in readers’ preference to Joe Lieberman (41% for Bush, 43% for Lieberman); second to Dick Gephardt (46% for Gephardt and 41% for Bush); and also second to John Kerry (47% for Kerry and 39% for Bush). Similar polls reflecting the preferences of the country as a whole at that time showed George Bush generally coming out in front of each of these candidates. At the time, Howard Dean was coming out in polls as one of several weaker candidates.

Six months is a long time in politics and, during the time since our previous poll, Dean has emerged as the stronger candidate among potential Democratic nominees. Since no votes have yet been cast in a primary for the 2004 presidential election, Dean is hardly a sure thing and his lack of support among some Democrats was certainly evident in comments from readers. But, since he is the strongest Democratic candidate, at least for the time being, we asked readers for their preferences between these two candidates.

In our latest poll, George Bush tops Howard Dean by 10%. 49% of readers said they would vote for George Bush and 39% said they would vote for Howard Dean. 9% indicated they would vote for someone else and 3% indicated they had not decided who would receive their vote.

As noted above, readers tend to express preferences considerably more liberal than the general population. A USA Today poll taken during the same time period showed Bush winning over Dean by a considerably wider margin of 59% – 37%.

Dean has been described as the candidate of the “angry left wing of the Democratic party.” Based on comments from readers, there is justification for that conclusion as some of his supporters are very unhappy with President Bush and cite that as their reason for supporting Dean.

FedSmith.com readers come largely from the ranks of current or retired federal employees. Also, some federal employee unions are spending a great deal of time and money attacking President Bush in support of a Democratic nominee. It isn’t too surprising a frequent concern expressed by readers was the contracting out of government jobs to private companies. A few readers also expressed unhappiness over their pay. And, while federal employees generally make considerably more than the average American, many of the Dean supporters expressed a general belief that President Bush represented “the rich” in America.

On the other hand, supporters of President Bush often mentioned national security as one of their primary concerns. This was often expressed in terms of America’s military action in Iraq or Afghanistan. Some expressed the same sentiment from a different perspective citing Dean’s lack of foreign policy experience or a belief that Dean would not be as effective as George Bush has been in making the nation safer against terrorists.

Here are a few of the comments we received that reflect some of these issues:

A financial analyst from DoD in Columbus, Ohio wrote;

“We finally have a president with some back bone. I am extremely happy with the job he’s doing. We need four more years of his leadership.”

A labor relations specialist from the Department of Homeland Security in Dallas offered this opinion:

“President Bush is doing a fine job!”

A civil engineer with the Forest Service in Oregon said this about President Bush:

“My support is with the current and to-be President Bush. This has nothing to do with pay schedule or my personal earnings but everything to do with maintaining national security and the economic good health we’re in for. Consumer confidence and resources are back with the Bush plan that will, over time, make and sustain new and vital jobs. Also, I believe the President is on the right track in steering the country to the unselfish ambition of looking out for one another.”

An EEO assistant with the VA in St. Louis commented:

“This is a no-brainer. President Bush has treated us very fairly. As a former military person, I am proud of what he has done for this country & what he is doing overseas.”

An electronics technician with the Department of Defense in Pennsylvania said:

“There is no contest in my mind. Every time I try to conjecture what Al Gore or for that matter Bill or Hillary Clinton would have done during the numerous crisis (sic) we’ve faced in the last three years, I get scared.”

A manager in the Federal Aviation Administration in Trenton, NJ supported George Bush with this comment:

As a supporter for the sanctity of life, the freedom to bear arms, a concerned tax payer watching the moral decay of the country – George W. Bush earns my vote.”

It wasn’t always the “angry left” that had strong beliefs about the “other guy.” A Department of Agriculture employee from Montpelier, Vermont offered this strong opinion about his former governor:

“Dean is no Vermonter but rather an arrogant, nasty, hate-filled rich kid from Park Ave. Dean…couldn’t care less about your safety and would compromise it for his own political gain. As a governor, the only reason he had success was because he ‘stayed the course’ of Republican Gov. Snelling whom he replaced when he died.”

And a statistician with the Army in San Antonio doesn’t think much of Howard Dean. He sent in this opinion:

“Howard Dean wants to raise my taxes and He is Pro-Gay. Howard Dean’s character is not even close to George Bush (sic) toes….President Bush is strong leader and with strong character… No one in USA could it (sic) handle 911 and Irak (sic) War Better than President Bush… .Besides President Bush is building a very strong and solid economy not a bubble economy like the past Democratic administration.”

As we noted early in this summary, many of the Dean supporters are angry about the overall policies of George Bush and support Dean for that reason alone. For example, a mechanic with the Department of Defense in Ft. Walton Beach, FL says:

“I would vote for anyone but Bush. (Even Hillary)”

An employee relations specialist with the Forest Service in Albuquerque, NM had this to say:

“Can’t wait to get rid of the guy who’s simply a pawn of the right, has no intelligence, cares nothing about the environment, looks to repay the favors of the religious community and the oil industry, and only further the schism that divides the classes.”

A human resources specialist from the Department of Agriculture in Beltsville, MD said:

“Bush is a (sic) simply a cheat, a liar, and no friend of the average citizen.”

An IRS revenue agent from New Jersey said:

“ANY candidate will be an improvement over the current incumbent.”

An IT specialist with the Dept. of Defense in Heidelberg, Germany supports Dean:

“I feel Mr. Bush is looking out for the welfare of the wealthy more than he is the welfare of those that are in need of his support the most, to include the staff that works for him and supports him.”

And a supervisor with the Risk Management Agency in Washington summed up his views this way:

“Federal employees need a President who appreciates and embraces those of us who dedicate ourselves to serving our country in non-combative means. Bush has done everything he can to demean us – to diminish our benefits and rights.”

Thanks to all of our readers who took the time to vote and to send in your opinions in our latest poll.

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