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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Bush's approval rating hits a low

May 24th, 2005 2:16 pm
Bush's approval rating on crucial issues hits a low

By Susan Page / USA Today

WASHINGTON — President Bush's approval ratings for handling the economy, Iraq and Social Security have fallen to the lowest levels of his White House tenure, according to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday.

Satisfaction with congressional Republicans also has sagged. By 47%-36%, those polled say the country would be better off if Democrats controlled Congress. That's the best showing for Democrats since the GOP won control of both houses of Congress in 1994.


Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?

Approve: 46%
Disapprove: 50%
No opinion: 4%

Full Poll Results

Americans express more concern about the price of gas than they do about the high-profile dispute over Democrats' filibuster of Bush's judicial nominations, the survey shows. And they are holding Republicans, who control the White House and Congress, responsible for their unease about the economy and Iraq.

"If people are not happy with the way things are going, the people in charge get the heat," says Andrew Kohut, director of the non-partisan Pew Research Center. A Pew poll released Thursday showed similar trends.

"We don't get caught up in week-by-week polling," White House press secretary Scott McClellan says. Bush "is going to remain focused on the big priorities and build on the progress we're making" on job creation and "spreading freedom."

In the sample of 1,006 adults, 36% call themselves Democrats, 29% Republicans. Including those who "lean" toward a party, 51% are Democrats, 40% Republicans. The survey isn't "weighted" for party ID, which fluctuates from poll to poll. Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, says the poll findings are "dubious" because the breakdown "does not accurately reflect the partisan makeup of America."

Bush's overall approval rating was 46%, down 4 percentage points since early May but higher than the 45% low in March. On specific issues, 40% approved of his handling of Iraq and the economy, 33% of his handling of Social Security.

Only on handling terrorism did Bush receive a net positive rating: 55% approve, 40% disapprove.

Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg says Bush is losing ground on "big, defining issues," including the economy and Iraq. "On Social Security, he's moved from being the person offering interesting ideas to the guy who wants to cut Social Security benefits."

Republican pollster David Winston says gas prices and Iraq violence have "unsettled the electorate" and affected Bush's standing.

There are red flags for Bush on two standard measures of a president's political health. The proportion that says he has "the personality and leadership qualities a president should have" fell to a new low of 52%. A record 57% say they disagree with him on the issues that matter the most to them.

On the filibuster confrontation — defused by a compromise announced late Monday — those surveyed favored the Democrats by 48%-40%. But they saw merit in the arguments of each side. A 53% majority say the filibuster — the ability of at least 41 senators to continue debate and delay a vote — should be preserved. Still, 69% wanted the Senate to hold up-or-down votes on judicial nominees.

Interest in the issue wasn't particularly high, though. A 57% majority wasn't following the news on filibusters closely; more than one in three weren't following it at all.

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