Poll: Springtime Politics

Still, only 35 percent approve of Bush's handling of energy policy, while 54 percent disapprove. And more broadly, 63 percent say the economy is in bad shape, and 40 percent approve of the way Bush is handling the economy, a point from his career low. The economy now holds the uncontested top slot as the highest priority for Bush and Congress, cited by 32 percent, five points more than last month.

There's also broad doubt about the situation in Iraq. Fifty-four percent say the war was not worth fighting, 58 percent say the United States has gotten bogged down in Iraq and 60 percent are not confident Iraq will have a stable, democratic government a year from now. Fifty-six percent disapprove of the way Bush is handling the situation there.

Separately, the nation's response to terrorism, the issue that got Bush re-elected, remains the root of his support. Fifty-six percent approve of the way he's handling it.

Judges

The public divides evenly overall on how each party in the Senate is handling the confirmation of federal judges. But more support than oppose the Democrats' action to block a group of appeals court nominees, by 48 percent-36 percent. (While that's largely a partisan result, independents side with the Democrats by a 14-point margin.)

Views on changing Senate rules also are partisan. But while Republicans divide on the issue, with 48 percent in favor and 46 percent against, opposition is heavily one-sided among Democrats (80 percent-13 percent) and independents (70 percent-21 percent) alike.


Senate Rules on Judicial Appointees
Change Don't Change
Republicans 48% 46
Independents 21 70
Democrats 13 80

More generally, 26 percent of Americans view federal judges overall as "too liberal," while 18 percent see them as "too conservative." Most, however, call them "about right" ideologically.

Influence and Values:

In terms of the debate over religion and politics swirling around the issue of judicial nominations, Americans are about as likely to say religious conservatives have too much influence over the Republican Party (40 percent) and to say liberals have too much influence over the Democrats (35 percent). That's a highly partisan result, but independents are 12 points more apt to see too much religious conservative influence over the Republicans than liberal influence over the Democrats.


Too Much Influence?
Religious Conservatives Liberals
(over Republican Party) (over Democratic Party)
All 40% 35
Democrats 52 18
Independents 46 34
Republicans 19 57
Liberals 66 9
Moderates 45 36
Conservatives 16 52

In another measure, 55 percent of Americans say political leaders should not rely on their religious beliefs in making policy decisions. That includes majorities of Democrats and independents (65 percent and 59 percent, respectively); 62 percent of Republicans, by contrast, say the opposite.


Should a Political Leader Rely on Religious Beliefs When Making Policy Decisions?
Yes No
All 40% 55
Democrats 27 65
Independents 38 59
Republicans 62 35
Liberals 20 77
Moderates 36 58
Conservatives 63 32

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