President Bush: Where He’s At

Oct 17, 2007 10:19am

For internal guidance at ABC News we regularly summarize poll results related to breaking news events, such as the president’s news conference this morning. Here’s today’s summary, running down the president’s ratings – a handy sketch of where he’s at.

-Still burdened by the unpopular war in Iraq, President Bush has a 33 percent job approval rating in the latest ABC/Post poll (two weeks ago), matching his career low. (Gallup’s latest, earlier this week, was essentially the same, 32 percent.) Sixty-four percent disapprove. Bush’s rating has been quite stable, ranging from 33 to 36 percent approval in every ABC/Post poll this year.

-Fifty-nine percent say the war in Iraq was not worth fighting, down from its peak of 66 percent in April but a majority continuously since December 2004. It remains the elephant in the political room, regardless of the president’s apparent intention to focus on domestic issues this morning.

-Bush has had less-than-majority approval continuously for 34 months. Only one previous postwar president was this low for this long, Harry Truman, for 38 months from 1949 to 1952. No others have even come close (Johnson, 18 months; Nixon, 16). Nonetheless three other presidents have hit lower lows – Truman, Nixon and Carter saw ratings in the 20s.

-Intensity of sentiment also is against Bush. Just 15 percent “strongly” approve of his work in office; more than three times as many, 49 percent, strongly disapprove.

-Just 30 percent approve of Bush’s work on Iraq, two points from his career low. Even on the broader U.S. campaign against terrorism, long his cornerstone issue, just 40 percent approve – a new low. He gets just 37 percent approval on handling the economy, 30 percent on health care, 27 percent on the deficit.

-For the past four years Bush’s ratings have been more partisan (a bigger gap between Republicans and Democrats) than for any of the previous three presidents (Clinton, GHW Bush, Reagan).

-Bush’s problems impact his party: He’s presided over a significant decline in Republican Party allegiance. On average in our polls this year just 25 percent of Americans have identified themselves as Republicans, down from 31 percent in 2003 to the fewest since 1984.

-Big majorities oppose his SCHIP veto and favor a reduction in his war-funding request. (Gallup data suggest some movability on SCHIP if the message can be shifted away from children’s health and toward “socialized medicine.”)

-Misery loves company: Approval of Congress overall has fallen from 44 percent in April to 29 percent now, even lower than Bush. The Republicans in Congress have 29 percent approval, the Democrats, 38 percent.

See our coverage of the news conference here.

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