The President and Public Opinion

Apr 29, 2008 9:20am

Here's a summary of the public views of the president and the economy in advance of his press conference this morning.

Per the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, 4/13, +/-3:

-Thirty-three percent of Americans approve of President Bush’s work in office overall, a point from his career-low 32 percent earlier this year. Sixty-four percent disapprove. Those who “strongly” disapprove outnumber strong approvers by a 3-1 margin.

-The president’s rating has been remarkably stable – he’s had 32 or 33 percent approval in nine ABC/Post polls since July and hasn’t exceeded 36 percent approval in a year and a half. He’s gone 39 months with less-than-majority approval, this month surpassing Harry Truman’s previous record from 1949-1952.

-Ratings of the president correlate almost perfectly with the view that the war in Iraq was not worth fighting, now held by 64 percent. Sixty-one percent reject the argument that the United States must win in Iraq in order for the broader war on terrorism to be a success. Sixty-five percent disapprove of Bush’s handling of the situation in Iraq.

-Iraq’s not his only problem: A career-high 70 percent disapprove of his handling of the economy (including more than a third of Republicans).

-Bush’s ratings have been more partisan on average than those of any president since ABC News started polling in 1981.

Re economic anxiety:

-Consumer confidence in our weekly ABC News index is its lowest since July 1993, coming out of the 1990-91 recession and its aftermath. Eighty-five percent say the economy's in bad shape, 77 percent call it a bad time to spend money and 48 percent rate their personal finances negatively. Confidence has fallen very sharply this year, with the index dropping from -20 Jan. 6 to -40 today, compared with its 22-year-average of -10 and a record low of -50. It’s dropped in each of the last four quarters.

-Two-thirds say gas prices are causing them financial hardship; lower-income families are especially hard hit.

-Seventy-nine percent of Americans don’t think the government’s forthcoming economic stimulus will help avoid or ease a recession, up from 67 percent in February. Just a quarter say they’ll spend their rebate checks; most instead plan on saving the money (32 percent) or using it to pay existing bills (31 percent).

-The economy is far and away the top election issue, cited by 41 percent (Iraq war 18 percent, all others single digits). Americans who cite the economy as their top issue favor either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton over John McCain, by 9 and 14 points, respectively.

-At his Feb. 28 presser Bush said, “I don’t think we’re headed to recession.” In a poll we did a month earlier, Feb. 1, 59 percent of Americans said they thought the country already was in one. By mid-March that was up to 76 percent in a Gallup/USAT poll.

For details on the president's approval rating over time, see this piece.

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