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Inside Politics

Poll: Nation split on Bush as uniter or divider

Most say inauguration festivities should be toned down


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George W. Bush

(CNN) -- On the eve of President Bush's inauguration, a poll shows the nation is split over whether he has united or divided the nation, but a majority believe his inauguration festivities should be toned down because of the war.

During the 2000 campaign, Bush promised to be a "uniter, not a divider."

Forty-nine percent of 1,007 adult Americans said in phone interviews they believe Bush is a "uniter," according to the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Wednesday. Another 49 percent called him a "divider," and 2 percent had no opinion.

The results nearly match those of a poll taken in October 2004, which showed 48 percent considered Bush a "uniter" and 48 percent called him a "divider," with 4 percent having no opinion. (Full story)

Bush's inauguration was viewed by 69 percent, more than two-thirds of respondents, as a celebration by the winning presidential candidate's supporters rather than a celebration of democracy by all Americans, as 29 percent saw it. Two percent had no opinion.

And 79 percent of poll respondents said they believe the inauguration ceremony will not do much to heal political divisions in the country. Eighteen percent said it would, and 3 percent had no opinion.

Also, 54 percent said the celebration should be toned down this year, compared with other inaugurations, because the country is at war. Forty-five percent said the inauguration should be held just as in other years, and 1 percent had no opinion.

Sixty-one percent of respondents said they believe protests during the inaugural celebration would be inappropriate, regardless of whether they believed people had a right to protest. When the same question was asked in January 2001, 71 percent said protests are inappropriate.

Asked about the president's most important role, 34 percent of respondents said it should be to manage the federal government and 24 percent said it should be to provide moral leadership.

Another 20 percent said it is acting as commander in chief of the military, up from 9 percent in a poll taken eight months before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The telephone poll was conducted Friday through Sunday. It has a 95 percent confidence rate, and the margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.


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