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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 04:45 PM ET, 01/18/2009

Bush Approval: A Last Look

As George W. Bush's final days as president dawn, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds him leaving behind one of the lowest final approval ratings in history and a wounded Republican Party.

Bush's final approval mark stands at 33 percent in the new poll, above his career low of 23 percent reached in early October, but besting only Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Harry S. Truman in approval ratings recorded since Gallup began tracking the measure in 1938.

Just over half - 51 percent - strongly disapprove of Bush's performance over the past eight years, more than three times the percentage who strongly approve. A look at the numbers among the groups which formed the heart of Bush's winning coalitions in 2000 and 2004 reveals a wide GOP rift.

Overall, 68 percent of Republicans approve of the job the president did, but partisan views on Bush are further split by ideology. Among conservative Republicans, he is a resounding success: 82 percent approve, 53 percent strongly. But moderate and liberal GOPers have a more tepid take. Just over half (52 percent) approve, only about a quarter (26 percent) do so strongly.

And those positive vibes on the conservative side appear to be coming from a different direction than one would expect for the self-styled compassionate conservative: Bush finishes his term with a 49 percent approval rating among white evangelical Protestants, a group which formed the core of his campaign's famous turnout operation in 2004. On the other side of the conservative coin, Bush merits a 70 percent approval rating from small government conservatives.

Bush's vice president, Dick Cheney, fares about the same as the president: 30 percent approve of the job he did, including 58 percent of Republicans. Overall, 60 percent disapprove of the VP's performance.

With Bush returning to Texas, neither side of the Republican party appears enamored of the congressional leadership he leaves behind. Among Republicans, only about half (52 percent) said they have confidence in the Republicans in Congress to make the right decisions for the country's future, standing in sharp contrast to the Democrats set to control both the executive and legislative branches, 77 percent of Democrats have confidence in the congressional delegation, and 88 percent express faith in Obama.

Bush Approval: One Year In Office vs. Final Measure
                   Jan. '02   Jan. '08 
All                   83        33

Republican            98        68
Independent           81        34
Democrat              73         6

Conservative          94        57
Moderate              83        28
Liberal               72        11

Republicans by ideology:
Conservative         100        82
Moderate/liberal      97        52

Liberal Democrats     69         1

Small government
 conservatives        96        70

White evangelical 
 Protestants          95        49

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  04:45 PM ET, 01/18/2009

Categories:  Presidential Approval, Presidential Approval

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