NPR Poll: Economy Helping Bush

Potential Voters Cite Iraq as an Increasing Concern

A pickup in the economy seems to be helping President Bush's popularity, but the situation in Iraq is an increasing concern among likely voters in the 2004 presidential election, according to a new poll for NPR. In the previous survey, conducted in late September, 53 percent of the respondents said the country was on the "wrong track." In the latest poll, that number dropped to 49 percent. NPR's Mara Liasson reports on Morning Edition.

The survey, conducted jointly by Republican pollster Bill McInturff and Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, shows President Bush picking up a slight lead (44-41 percent) over a Democratic nominee, though the advance is within the poll's margin of error. In the previous poll, respondents were evenly split about whether the president or an unnamed Democrat would get their vote next fall.

President Bush's overall approval rating rose slightly, to 53 percent from 51 percent in the prior survey.

The situation in Iraq is rising in importance among issues respondents will use in deciding how to vote in next year's election. In previous NPR polls, voters chose the economy and jobs as the most important issue, but for the first time Iraq has moved into second place.

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