Bush Approval Rating at New Career Low

President Bush's job approval rating is at a career low in this latest ABC News/Washington Post poll amid continued broad public skepticism about the Iraq war.

Just 38 percent of Americans now approve of Bush's overall performance in office; it's the lowest mark of his presidency, albeit by a single point. Sixty percent disapprove of how he's handling his job, matching the highest disapproval of his tenure.

One of the primary drags on the president's job approval rating has been the public's negative assessment of the war in Iraq, and in this poll 58 percent say the war was not worth fighting -- a majority sentiment for the past 16 months.

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

The president's overall job numbers are little changed from a month ago and are about what they were last fall, before they briefly improved following the December parliamentary elections in Iraq. Also similar to his ratings in the fall, a striking feature of the president's predicament is the intensity of sentiment against him.

Today, just 20 percent of Americans "strongly" approve of his work in office, while more than twice as many, 47 percent, strongly disapprove. At the start of Bush's second term, he had the same number of strong supporters and strong opponents.

Bush Approval
  Now Start of 2nd Term Change
Approve NET 38% 50% -12
Strongly 20% 34% -14
Disapprove NET 60% 45% +15
Strongly 47% 34% +13

The change since that time has come both from increased opposition among independents and Democrats as well as less intense support from his Republican base. Independents are 20 points more likely to strongly disapprove of Bush's job performance than they were at the beginning of his second term (51 percent now strongly disapprove) and strong opposition among Democrats is up 10 points. Among Republicans, half strongly approve of president's job performance, but that's down from 69 percent just after his second inaugural.

Bush Approval
  Now Start of 2nd Term Change
Democrats Approving Strongly 2% 7% -5
Republicans Approving Strongly 50% 69% -19
Independents Approving Strongly 13% 25% -12
Democrats Disapproving Strongly 78% 68% +10
Republicans Disapproving Strongly 8% 4% +4
Independents Disapproving Strongly 51% 31% +20

As in previous ABC/Post polls, there's also a significant partisan divide in views about whether the Iraq war was worth fighting. While nearly nine in 10 Democrats and six in 10 independents say that the war wasn't worth it, three-quarters of Republicans say it was. Overall, nearly half of Americans, 48 percent, "strongly" feel the war wasn't worth fighting; three in 10 strongly believe the fight justified.

Growing Disapproval With Bush on Immigration

Americans also are increasingly not pleased with way President Bush has approved the controversy over how to handle illegal immigrants living in the United States.A bill to overhaul immigration legislation has stalled in Congress, and Americans disapprove of Bush's handling of the issue by nearly a 2-1 margin.

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