Poll: Bush Approval Hits New Low

An increasingly unpopular war, an ethics cloud, and broad economic discontent have pushed public opinion of the Bush administration from bad to worse, infecting not only the president's ratings on political issues but his personal credentials for honesty and leadership as well.

George W. Bush's approval ratings for handling his job, Iraq, terrorism and the economy are all at career-lows. Sixty percent of Americans disapprove of his work in office overall, a level of discontent unseen since recession chased his father from office.

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

With an indictment in the White House, just 40 percent call Bush honest and trustworthy -- fewer than half for the first time -- and 67 percent rate his handling of ethics in government negatively. Fewer than half call him a strong leader, another first. Two-thirds say he doesn't understand their problems, and nearly six in 10 say he doesn't share their values -- again career-worst personal ratings on these attributes.

On Iraq, a new high -- 55 percent -- say the Bush administration intentionally misled the American public in making its case for war, up 12 points from last spring. Sixty percent say the war was not worth fighting, up seven points just since August to another high.

And here at home, with gasoline at $2.48 a gallon (even if down from recent price peaks), 65 percent say the economy is in bad shape, and 68 percent say the nation is on the "wrong track," the most since 1996. The main reasons given: the economy, Iraq and Bush himself.

Adding to his woes, 59 percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll say Bush's right hand man, Karl Rove, should resign.

Bush Approval Ratings
  Approve Disapprove
Overall job   39%   60%
Economy   36     61  
Iraq   36     64  
Health care   34     61  
Gas prices   26     68  

Bush Personal Ratings
  Yes No
Is a strong leader   47%   53%
Is honest and trustworthy   40     58  
Shares your values   40     58  
Understands problems of people like you   34     66  

Intensity

A striking feature of the president's predicament is the intensity of sentiment against him. Just 20 percent of Americans "strongly" approve of his work in office, the fewest of his career; more than twice as many, 47 percent, strongly disapprove, the most yet seen.

Even in his own party, just under half of Republicans, 49 percent, now strongly approve of Bush's job performance; it was 71 percent at the start of the year -- a huge 22-point fall in home-crowd intensity. And it's a similar story among conservatives, another core Bush group: Their strong approval has fallen 14 points this year, to 38 percent.

In another measure of intensity, 25 percent of Americans say they're "angry" with the Bush administration, three times as many as are "pleased" with it.

Intensity follows through on views of the Iraq war: In still another first, nearly twice as many Americans now feel strongly that the war not worth fighting as those who feel strongly it was, 48 percent versus 25 percent.

The Gathering Storm

Bush has been pushed well below roughly 50-50 approval -- where he'd lingered since early 2004 -- by a perfect storm of political setbacks.

First was Iraq, where U.S. military casualties spiked in August, then spiked again in October; they're the fourth and fifth highest-casualty months of the 33-month war. Total U.S. military casualties hit 2,000 last week.

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