TERENCE SMITH: Just who are these Democrats? Andy Kohut, the director of the Pew Research Center, has been looking into that. He joins me now. Andy, welcome.
We've just heard a few of the delegates in their own words talking about their attitudes, but profile the party for us a little more broadly than that as the Democrats come into this convention.
ANDREW KOHUT: They come in emotional. They come in angry. They come in unified. They come in expecting that they're going to defeat President Bush in November. Only two months ago 50 percent of them said we're... Kerry is going to win. That's now up to 66 percent. We see a lot of the Democrats' emotions and attitudes being driven by their opposition to George Bush.
TERENCE SMITH: You said they're unified. What do your surveys show you on that?
ANDREW KOHUT: Our surveys find that more Democrats name the Democratic Party as the best to deal with the economy, deal with foreign policy, deal with a whole range of issues compared to back in the elections of 2002.
In fact, the country at large is feeling better about the Democratic Party. Democrats have made great gains relative to the Republicans as being seen as best able to deal with the economy and now even break-even with the Republicans on the issue of foreign policy. And a lot of that are Democrats themselves saying our party is in pretty good shape.
TERENCE SMITH: How do the delegates in the hall, generally speaking, compare to the Democrats in the party at large?
ANDREW KOHUT: Well, no surprise and like most conventions, these Democrats are more liberal than Democrats around the country. But on the big issues-- on the economy, on Iraq, and on trade-- they're very much like Democrats around the country. If you look at abortion, if you look at the death penalty and civil liberties and those issues, the Democrats here in the hall are more liberal, more concerned about, for example, excesses in anti-terrorism efforts, sacrificing civil liberties.
TERENCE SMITH: When you ask them questions in your surveys about Iraq, about whether, for example, the United States should get out very quickly or stay in long enough as Sen. Kerry says to complete the job, what answers do you get?
ANDREW KOHUT: Well, overwhelmingly 58 percent majority of Democrat Democrats say we should get out now and 40 percent say we should stay the course. That's just the reverse of public opinion at large where most Americans even though they're down on the decision to go to war still think we should stay the course.
TERENCE SMITH: Does that suggest that the party rank-and-file are a little ahead of John Kerry on this issue?
ANDREW KOHUT: Well, there's a schism in the party among better educated Democrats, among men. There's more support for staying the course. In fact, majority support for staying the course. Among non-whites, among women, among less well educated Democrats they want out; they want out now. There is this split in the party.
TERENCE SMITH: What's their view, the Democrats, of the 9/11 Commission and its report which has caused such a stir in the country?
ANDREW KOHUT: Well, it's strongly positive. 60 percent of Democrats approve of the 9/11 Commission. Oddly enough, for this season, that's exactly what the Republicans say. This commission really did get bipartisan support. The Democrats also have a pretty favorable view of the way the government is protecting the country against terrorist attacks. They don't have a favorable view of President Bush, however, mostly on the civil liberties issue -- very strong.
TERENCE SMITH: That's go to the first word you used, anger.
ANDREW KOHUT: Lots of anger. Lots of anger at Bush more so than we've seen in past elections for sure.
TERENCE SMITH: Final bottom line then. How does this affect what's often derisively called the horse race? Kerry vis-à-vis Bush?
ANDREW KOHUT: All of these Democratic... positive Democratic signs notwithstanding, optimism, unity, bush approval rating is at 46 percent. The race is still tied.
TERENCE SMITH: It really hasn't moved.
ANDREW KOHUT: It hasn't moved.
TERENCE SMITH: Andy Kohut, thanks very much.
ANDREW KOHUT: You're welcome.