Bush Defeats Truman

Bush passes Truman as postwar president longest lacking in majority approval.

ByABC News
April 14, 2008, 7:39 PM

April 14, 2008 — -- At 39 months in the doghouse, George W. Bush has surpassed Harry Truman's record as the postwar president to linger longest without majority public approval.

Bush hasn't received majority approval for his work in office in ABC News/Washington Post polls since Jan. 16, 2005 three years and three months ago. The previous record was Truman's during his last 38 months in office.

Truman's problems included both economic recession and the war in Korea, which, in October 1952, 56 percent of Americans said was not worth fighting. Bush's approval, likewise, has suffered overwhelmingly because of the unpopular war in Iraq; his job rating correlates almost perfectly with views of the war.

In the latest ABC/Post poll, just 33 percent of Americans approve of Bush's work, a point from his career-low 32 percent earlier this year. Sixty-four percent disapprove, with those who "strongly" disapprove outnumbering strong approvers by a 3-1 margin.

The president's rating has been remarkably stable 32 or 33 percent approval in the last nine national ABC/Post polls, comprising nearly 10,000 interviews since July. Indeed, Bush hasn't exceeded 36 percent approval since November 2006.

His rating specifically on handling the war in Iraq is equally poor 33 percent approve, 65 percent disapprove and on the economy it's even worse, with a record 70 percent disapproval.

GROUPS All of Bush's ratings are marked by sharp partisanship. Just 7 percent of Democrats approve of his work overall (a point from the low in this group) compared with 74 percent of Republicans. (Fewer Republicans, 59 percent, approve of his work on the economy, a career low.)

Indeed Bush's ratings have been more partisan on average than those of any president in ABC/Post polls dating to 1981 slightly more so than Bill Clinton's and Ronald Reagan's, and especially more so than Bush's father's. (Specifically, there's been an average 57-point gap between Democrats and Republicans in their ratings of Bush, compared with 54 points for Clinton, 50 points for Reagan and 34 points for Bush's father.)