Dec. 12, 2006 — -- A near record, 62 percent of Americans, disapprove of President Bush's job performance overall, a new high of 70 percent disapprove specifically of his handling of the situation in Iraq, and -- at the root of his troubles -- six in 10 now say the war there was not worth fighting.
As Bush, pushed by last week's Iraq Study Group recommendations, struggles to find a new way forward in Iraq, the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll underscores the depth of his difficulties.
Just 36 percent approve of Bush's job performance overall, the second lowest approval rating of his career. He bottomed out at 33 percent approval in May.
Not only do 62 percent of Americans disapprove of his work in office overall, but 49 percent strongly disapprove -- a new high -- while a mere 18 percent strongly approve.
On Iraq the president does even worse.
A new high, 70 percent, disapprove of his handling of the war, and 57 percent strongly disapprove. Only 28 percent approve of the way Bush is handling the situation there.
These ratings are fueled by the public's sour views on the war in Iraq itself -- the same views that led to the Democratic takeover of Congress last month. Sixty-one percent of Americans now say the war was not worth fighting. This has exceeded six in 10 only two other times in ABC News/Washington Post polls.
It's these negative views of the war that are driving Bush's problems: His overall approval rating has closely tracked views of whether, in terms of its costs versus benefits, the war was worth fighting; the two correlate nearly perfectly.
Bush's base supporters have not deserted him this month.
On balance, 69 percent of Republicans still believe the Iraq war was worth fighting. But 65 percent of independents and 81 percent of Democrats say the war was not worth it.
Bush has maintained high approval rating from Republicans for his overall job performance and his performance on Iraq. Seventy-seven percent of Republicans approve of his job, and 65 percent approve of his work on Iraq, with his ratings far lower among independents and Democrats.
Bush's approval rating compares negatively to both President Clinton's and President Reagan's approval ratings after their second midterm congressional elections -- a healthy 64 percent approval for Clinton in December 1998 (despite his pending impeachment) and 49 percent approval for Reagan in December 1986, shortly after the Iran-Contra story broke.
Strong disapproval of Bush is even nearer its worst of his career, 48 percent in June.