Americans believe they are better off after President Reagan's eight years in office by a margin of more than two to one, but more are pessimistic about the next five years than optimistic, a survey has found.
A Time-CNN poll also found that Americans believe reducing the budget deficit should be President-elect George Bush's first priority, and they believe Bush will do a better job handling the deficit and several other major issues than his popular predecessor. Poll results were released in this week's issue of Time magazine.Sixty percent of respondents in the survey said the country is better off as a result of Reagan's presidency, compared with 27 percent who said it is worse off.
Respondents were more pessimistic about the future, though, with 43 percent saying they expect conditions to be worse five years from now and 39 percent expected them to be better. Ten percent predicted no change.
The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The budget deficit was cited as the nation's most pressing problem, with 33 percent saying it should be Bush's priority. Twenty-two percent said dealing with terrorism should be Bush's No. 1 job. Twenty percent cited the fight against drugs and 11 percent mentioned the trade deficit.
Fifty-seven percent said they thought Bush would handle the budget deficit better than Reagan, while 17 percent said he would do worse. An even greater 62 percent said Bush would do a better job than Reagan at maintaining ethical standards in government, while just 13 percent said he would fare worse.
The survey found 50 percent had a favorable opinion of Bush, compared with 21 percent who had an unfavorable opinion and 29 percent who were uncertain. And 29 percent said Bush's actions since winning the election made them more confident about his becoming president, while 11 percent said they were less confident.
Vice President-elect Dan Quayle fared much worse, with 30 percent expressing an unfavorable opinion and 20 percent regarding him favorably. Fifty-two percent said they did not consider Quayle qualified to assume the presidency if Bush were incapacitated.