Monday :: Dec 20, 2004

Bush Approval Rating Falls Below 50% - Majority Want Rummy Gone


by Steve

So much for a second term honeymoon.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll out tonight, of over a thousand adults taken through last night shows Bush’s approval rating and depth of support heading downhill, with a majority of Americans now feeling that Iraq wasn’t worth the cost.

Fifty-six percent, a new high, now say the war in Iraq was not worth fighting, and fewer than half think the United States is making significant progress restoring civil order there. Most call Iraq unready for the election scheduled for late next month, doubt the integrity of the election process and lack confidence it'll produce a stable government.

There are political implications: Fifty-seven percent disapprove of President Bush's work on the situation, a point shy of his worst rating on Iraq, set during the Abu Ghraib scandal last spring. His approval for handling terrorism overall — his best issue — has dropped to 53 percent, near its low, 50 percent in June.

Iraq and Rumsfeld are spilling over onto Bush himself, as his own numbers are falling.

As for Rumsfeld, just 35 percent approve of his work — half of what it was just before the fall of Baghdad — and 52 percent say Bush should replace him.

Most broadly, this ABC News/Washington Post poll shows no second honeymoon for Bush after his re-election last month. The nation is as divided as ever, with Americans split, 48 percent to 49 percent, on his overall job performance — about where it's been for most of 2004. Bush has 55 percent job approval in the "red" states he won — compared with 40 percent, 15 points lower, in the "blue" states won by Democrat John Kerry.

Comparisons to past year-end polls underscore the difficulties confronting Bush in his second term. His job approval rating is 11 points lower than a year ago, and 18 points lower than two years ago. His rating on terrorism is 17 points lower than at this time last year. There's been a 17-point drop in the number of Americans who say the Iraq war was worth fighting, and a 10-point rise in the number who call U.S. casualties "unacceptable."

And that “mandate” for his second term agenda? Forget it. And the underpinnings of Bush’s reelection campaign are crumbling, albeit too late.

Handling terrorism was the issue that won Bush re-election, and it remains his best suit, albeit much less strongly than in the past. On pressing domestic issues he's weaker: Fewer than half, 46 percent, approve of his work on the economy; 38 percent on Social Security, on which he's promised bold initiatives; and 37 percent on health care. These have been essentially steady the past year.

In evaluating this now-majority view that the war was not worth fighting, it's notable that the public is approaching an even division on another crucial question — whether the war did or did not contribute to long-term U.S. security.

Today 51 percent say it did, but 46 percent say it did not — matching the closest division to date on this question. In late 2003, by contrast, the public by a 28-point margin said the war had contributed to long-term U.S. security, its fundamental rationale.

Also, just 27 percent now say the war has contributed "a great deal" to U.S. security, the fewest to date, although it's never been high, peaking at 34 percent a year ago.

And how deep is Bush’s support for anything right now?

Intensity of sentiment is another problem for Bush: Just 27 percent approve "strongly" of his work overall, the fewest since Sept. 11, 2001, while more, 38 percent, strongly disapprove. That's the biggest margin toward strong disapproval (+11) of his presidency.

And one last point: remember all that talk about a political realignment and the GOP gaining an advantage over the Democrats? Forget that too. In this poll, respondents self-identified as Democrats by an 11-point margin. So I guess the GOP has returned to being embarrassed about admitting their party allegiance.

(I)n this survey more Americans identify themselves as Democrats (38 percent) than as Republicans (27 percent). However, political attitudes are driven by more than partisan differences alone, particularly apart from vote preferences. Adjusting the results to party ID levels across October (+3 Democrat) produce only minor shifts in overall results — raising Bush's overall approval rating by three points, his approval on Iraq or terrorism by two, and views that the war in Iraq was worth fighting by two, still the lowest to date.

So even when the results were adjusted to reflect the party ID levels seen just before the election, which had a narrower margin for the Democrats than now, Bush’s numbers only showed minor improvement.

Buyer’s Remorse anyone? It’s a little f**king late now, folks.

But this poll does show that Bush's margin for error is very small, and support for his agenda is questionable.

Steve :: 4:25 PM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!