Poll: Bush Approval at Career Low

George W. Bush's job approval rating slipped to a career low 45 percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, damaged both by discontent with the war in Iraq and broad unhappiness with the price of gasoline at home.

Sampling, data collection and tabulation for this poll were done by TNS.

Views on Iraq, while stable, are not good: Fifty-three percent of Americans say the war was not worth fighting, 57 percent disapprove of the way Bush is handling it and 68 percent call the level of U.S. casualties unacceptable. The public only divides, 49-49 percent, on whether the war has improved long-term U.S. security, its basic rationale.

At home, opinions on gasoline prices are even more dire. Just 22 percent approve of Bush's work on the problem, while a whopping 73 percent disapprove. Two-thirds say gas prices are causing them financial hardship -- back up after a dip last week -- and six in 10 think the Bush administration could take measures to cut the price of gas.

That view seems to run contrary to Bush's comment Monday: "I wish I could snap my fingers and lower the price of gasoline for you. The markets don't work that way. I'd be snappin' if I could do it."

Views on Iraq, while negative, have been at least as sour in the past as they are now. Disapproval of Bush's handling of the war has been essentially steady since December, and a majority hasn't approved since January 2004. Similarly, consistent majorities since December 2004 have said the war was not worth fighting, and since July 2003 have called the level of casualties unacceptable.

In another bottom-line view, a bare majority, 51 percent, says the United States is winning the war in Iraq -- hardly an expression of broad confidence, albeit more than the 38 percent who say the United States is losing the war. Eight percent call it a draw.

Separately, in a result that could embolden Bush's critics, a majority of Americans -- including more than three-quarters of Democrats and nearly six in 10 independents -- say the Democrats in Congress have not gone far enough in opposing the war, or, for that matter, in opposing Bush's policies more generally.

The Sheehan Effect

Bush's overall rating, while a new low, also is not much worse than it's been. Forty-five percent approve of his work in office, compared with a previous low of 47 percent; 53 percent disapprove, a scant one point more than the previous high.

A better result for Bush is a little gain in ratings of his handling of terrorism more broadly, the primary underpinning of his popularity. Fifty-six percent approve, up from 50 percent in early June, which tied the post-9/11 low.

Intensity of sentiment, however, remains against Bush. People who "strongly" disapprove of his work in office overall outnumber strong approvers by 14 points, 41 percent to 27 percent. But this has been steady, too, since spring.

Indeed, it may come as a surprise that Bush hasn't fared worse despite the difficult August -- suggesting that views on his presidency overall, and Iraq in particular, are by now firmly rooted and slow to move. U.S. military fatalities in Iraq have averaged about three a day in August, making it among the deadliest months since the war began. And anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan has been a persistent voice opposing the president for the last three weeks.

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