President Bush’s job-approval rating dropped seven points in the last two weeks, falling within one point of the lowest of his presidency, according to a Gallup Poll released Friday.
The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll indicated that 52 percent of Americans approve of Bush’s performance, the lowest mark since the attacks of Sept. 11 two years ago. The 43 percent of Americans who disapprove of Bush’s performance, meanwhile, is the highest since he took office.
Bush’s highest approval ratings came in the weeks following Sept. 11, 2001, at one point hitting 90 percent. While support moderated into the high 50s and low 60s into this year, the beginning of the war in Iraq boosted his job-approval rating to above 70 percent this spring.
Now, the war might be causing him problems. The poll, conducted between Monday and Wednesday night last week, came on the heels of a nationally televised address in which the president said he intended to ask Congress for an additional $87 billion for funding in Iraq and the war on terrorism.
The new survey found that 52 percent of Americans say things are going badly for the United States in Iraq, showing a continuing decline in optimism. In May, 86 percent of Americans said things were going well in Iraq and only 13 percent said things were going badly. Less than half (47 percent) now think things are going well.
Approval of Bush’s job of handling the situation in Iraq dropped six points since late August, to 51 percent, the lowest since the war began in March.
And more than half (51 percent) said Congress should turn down Bush’s request for an additional $87 billion in government funding. Forty-six percent said Congress should authorize the additional spending, and 3 percent registered no opinion.
Fifty-nine percent said they do not think the Bush administration has a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq, while 40 percent said the White House does have a clear policy.
Democratic pollster Mark Mellman told USA Today that Bush “has benefited from circumstances beyond his control,” but now “reality is setting in.”
While critical of his handling of the situation in Iraq, Americans still give the president high marks in his war on terrorism. Sixty-four percent approve of his performance in fighting terrorism, while 34 percent disapprove.
The economy continues to be a concern for a majority of Americans, with 45 percent approving of Bush’s handling of the economy and 53 percent disapproving.
If the presidential election were held today, 47 percent said they would vote for Bush, compared to 43 percent who would vote for the unnamed Democrat candidate. That 4 point lead stood at 12 percent in late August, prompting talk that Bush might be in for a fight to win re-election.
“Taking a fall was inevitable, but he is increasingly vulnerable now,” Jaime Regalado, a political scientist at California State University at Los Angeles, said in USA Today.
Another recent survey showed Bush’s approval ratings dropping even before his Sept. 7 speech. ABC News and Washington Post polls conducted Sept. 4-7 found 56 percent approval of his job performance, down three points from August, and disapproval up 4 percent, to 31 percent.
A FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll Sept. 9-10, however, found 58 percent approval of the job Bush is doing as president, up a point from the previous month.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.