Exit Poll Results Show Disapproval of Bush

ByABC News

Nov. 7, 2006 — -- Exit poll results indicate that 58 percent of voters today disapprove of the way President Bush is handling his job.

Forty-two percent approve. That's down from a 53 percent approval in 2004, and 67 percent just before the 2002 midterm elections.

Forty-three percent "strongly" disapprove of the president's work, more than double the number of strong approvers.

Intensity of sentiment for and against, by contrast, was about equal in 2004: 33 percent strongly approved of the president's performance, and 35 percent strongly disapproved. In 2002, strong approvers dominated, quite a contrast from today.

The war in Iraq is a serious concern.

In exit poll results, 57 percent of voters disapprove of the war, while 41 percent approve. Approval of the war was higher, 51 percent, in the 2004 election. And 41 percent now "strongly" disapprove of the war, up from 32 percent two years ago.

Related to concerns about the war in Iraq, voters are more apt today to say the country's seriously off on the wrong track than to say it's going in the right direction.

The last time this view was more negative than positive was in 1994, when Republicans took control of the House of Representatives.

The president, at least to some extent, is looking like a drag on his party this election. Exit poll results showed that voters by a 15-point margin were more apt to say they're voting to show opposition to Bush rather than to show him support.

Thirty-seven percent are voting to show opposition to the president. That compares with 21 percent in 1998, during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, and 27 percent in 1994.

The Republican leadership of Congress has problems of its own. Sixty-two percent of voters said they disapproved of how Congress was handling its job; just 36 percent approve.

Voters are approaching this election with large-scale issues in mind.

Sixty-one percent say they're voting on the basis of national rather than local issues. Nearly nine in 10 voters are confident in the vote count in their state. Less than half are "very" confident of it.

President Bush and the war in Iraq sharply divide voters in Tennessee, a state the president won with 57 percent of the vote in 2004.

In preliminary exit poll results, nearly half of Tennessee voters say they approve of the job Bush is doing as president while just as many expressed disapproval.

Similarly, voters split about evenly between approval and disapproval of the war in Iraq.

In Virginia, nearly six in 10 voters disapprove of the job President Bush is doing as president, a strong rebuke in a state that Bush won with 54 percent of the vote just two years ago. A majority of voters also disapprove of the war in Iraq.

Virginia voters by about a 10-point margin said they were casting their ballots to show opposition to President Bush than to show him support.

More than half of Montana voters disapprove of Bush's job performance -- a substantial shift away from the president since he beat John Kerry in the state in 2004.

More than half of voters also disapprove of the war. And Montana voters by about a 10-point margin say they are casting their ballots to show opposition to Bush rather than to support him.

In Missouri, a state Bush carried in the 2004 election, more than half of voters said they disapproved of the job he was doing as president.

About a third of Missouri voters said they were casting their ballots to show opposition to him.

More than half of Missouri voters say they disapprove of the war in Iraq, with more than a third disapproving "strongly."

In the Northeast, six in 10 New Jersey voters disapprove of the president's job performance and the Iraq war. Virtually the same percentage support withdrawal of some or all troops from Iraq.

North in Rhode Island, nearly three times as many voters disapprove than approve of Bush's performance as president -- a huge negative margin.

The results were the same for disapproval of the war in Iraq. Approximately two-thirds say the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq.

Preliminary exit poll results reflect polling done by ABC News and The Washington Post during the days prior to the election.

The ABC poll, which was conducted Nov. 1 through 4, shows that discontent among voters remains strong.

Just 40 percent of Americans approve of Bush's job performance, the lowest for a president heading into a midterm election since Harry Truman in 1950, when his party lost 29 seats in Congress.

President Reagan's rating in 1982 was 42 percent, similar to Bush's now; that year the Republicans lost 26 seats.

Among registered voters, 60 percent disapprove of the way the Republican-led Congress is handling its job; 59 percent say the country is headed in the wrong direction; and 53 percent say the war in Iraq was not worth fighting.

A majority hasn't backed the war in two years.

The public's most prominent complaint is the war in Iraq. Asked, open-ended, why they say the country's going in the wrong direction, three in 10 registered voters cite the war, putting it far and away first.

About half as many, 16 percent, raise economic concerns; 12 percent mention corruption or general distrust of politicians; 11 percent cite problems with Bush.

Similarly, 31 percent call the war in Iraq the most important issue in their vote; 21 percent say it's the economy; 12 percent, health care; and about as many, 11 percent, cite terrorism.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll affirms the trend in anti-Bush voting this year: registered voters by nearly a 2-1 margin, 31 percent to 17 percent, say they're casting their vote to show opposition to Bush rather than to show support for him.

The rest, 50 percent, say he isn't a factor. This is a stark contrast to anti-Clinton voting in 1998. Then, even in the height of the Lewinsky scandal, just 9 percent said they were voting to show opposition to President Clinton.

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