Link(CNN) -- A majority would vote for a Democrat over President Bush if an election were held this year, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll released Tuesday.
In the latest poll, 55 percent of the respondents said that they would vote for the Democratic candidate if Bush were again running for the presidency this year.
Thirty-nine percent of those interviewed said they would vote for Bush in the hypothetical election....
More than half, 57 percent, said they don't agree with the president's views on issues that are important to them, while 41 percent said their views are in alignment with those of Bush on important issues....
On separate issues, a majority of those questioned felt the Democrats could do a better job than Republicans at handling health care (59 percent to 30 percent), Social Security (56 percent to 33 percent), gasoline prices (51 percent to 31 percent) and the economy (50 percent to 38 percent).
Forty-six percent also believed Democrats could do better at handling Iraq, while 40 percent said the GOP would do better.
In 2003, 53 percent said Republicans would better handle Iraq and only 29 percent believed the Democrats would do better.
The only issue on which Republicans came out on top was in fighting terrorism: 49 percent said the GOP is better at it, while 38 percent said the Democrats are.
And there was a dramatic shift downward in the latest poll, compared with September, in the percentage of people who said that it was a mistake to send U.S. troops to Iraq.
This time, 49 percent said it was a mistake, versus 59 percent who felt that way last month.
Some random thoughts on the results:
Though encouraging, I'm surprised that the spread between those who'd vote for Bush and those who'd vote for a Democrat is only 16%.
I'm genuinely puzzled why 10% of the public would suddenly start feeling that the Iraq war is justifiable again. What's different between the way people felt a month ago and now? Have we suddenly discovered some WMD?
Once again we see proof that the U.S. is actually a rather liberal nation (its voting habits notwithstanding). Once again people support Democratic policies and issues.
On the subject of fighting terrorism: if this is the Democrats' one weak spot, then it tells us that the next Democratic president (whenever that is) not only has to be tough on terrorists, but he'll have to thump his chest a lot to make sure everyone knows it. Hey, why not? Democrats have already reclaimed the issue of fiscal responsibility from the Republicans; why not defense, too?
Finally, I have to take any poll like this with a grain of salt. The "guy" running against Bush in this poll is a generic Democrat who hasn't been smeared by the Karl Rove and the neocon goon squad.