updated 1/9/2004 4:46:57 PM ET 2004-01-09T21:46:57

Bolstered by lopsided backing from core supporters, President Bush is in a stronger position with voters than his father or Bill Clinton were at the same stage of their re-election bids, an Associated Press poll found.

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Men, evangelicals and rural voters are supporting Bush by big margins at the start of this election year, while traditionally Democratic-leaning groups such as women have more divided loyalties, according to the poll. The public’s growing confidence in the economy is helping boost Bush’s standing as well.

More people say they will definitely vote for Bush’s re-election, 41 percent, than say they will definitely vote against him, 33 percent, according to the poll conducted for the AP by Ipsos-Public Affairs. An additional 24 percent said they would consider voting for someone else.

“I can’t imagine not voting for Bush,” said William Miller, a 66-year-old retiree from Hartsville, S.C., who calls himself a political independent. “I’m very glad he was in office on 9-11. I feel like he’s got a good handle on what we have to do in the international arena, and his economic polices seem to be coming around.”

Men for Bush 49-26
On the question of re-electing Bush or definitely voting for someone else, men were for Bush by 49 percent to 26 percent. And rural voters were for him by an equally lopsided margin. White evangelicals said they would support Bush rather than vote for someone else by an even wider margin.

Bush is in significantly better shape with the public than either Clinton or the first President Bush were at this stage in their re-election bids and about the same as Ronald Reagan before his landslide re-election victory in 1984.

People were about evenly divided on Clinton and the elder Bush at this stage of their presidencies.

On the current president’s re-election, 39 percent of women said they would definitely vote for someone else and 35 percent said they would vote for Bush.

Elizabeth Born, who’s raising her son in Portland, Ore., said she’s very unhappy with Bush.

“I don’t like the way he’s represented the United States to the rest of the world,” she said. “We’re really hated. He embodies the stereotype of Americans the rest of the world may have.”

In the AP-Ipsos poll, Bush had a 49 percent to 42 percent lead over Wesley Clark and bigger margins when matched against several other Democratic candidates. He led Howard Dean by 54-39 percent, John Kerry by 54-37 and Dick Gephardt by 56-35.

56% job approval
Bush’s job approval in the poll was 56 percent after a boost last month following the capture of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Six in 10 approve of his handling of foreign policy and terrorism.

More than half, 53 percent, approve of his handling of the economy.

The AP-Ipsos poll of 1,000 adults, including 774 registered voters, was taken Jan. 5-7 and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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