Bush Poll Numbers On Iraq at New Low
A majority of those surveyed also expressed optimism that the situation in Iraq will be better a year from now, but in all other respects, the public expressed pessimism about the U.S. mission there.
Those surveyed remained evenly divided over whether the war in Iraq has been worth the cost, with 48 percent saying it was and 50 percent saying it was not. But 65 percent said they believe the United States is bogged down there, 57 percent said the United States is not making significant progress in establishing a democratic government and 58 percent said Bush does not have a clear plan for Iraq.
Disapproval of Bush's handling of the prisoner-abuse scandal rose dramatically in the past month, with 57 percent giving him negative marks and 36 percent giving him positive marks. A month ago, as the scandal was first unfolding, a plurality (48 percent to 35 percent) said they approved of the way he was dealing with it. Disapproval jumped sharply among independents and Republicans as well as among Democrats. Three in five independents give Bush negative marks on the prison scandal as do almost one-third of Republicans, and three-quarters of all Democrats.
When asked to compare Bush and Kerry, those surveyed said they had more confidence in Kerry on economic issues and more confidence in Bush on national security issues. Bush's greatest advantage came in the war on terrorism, where he led Kerry by 52 percent to 39 percent. On Iraq, Bush led 48 percent to 42 percent, while on the economy, Kerry led 48 percent to 43 percent. In all cases, the public viewed Bush less favorably than in the Post-ABC poll of a month ago.
Those surveyed also see Bush as a strong leader, with 62 percent saying that characterization fit the president to 52 percent who said it applied to Kerry. Three in five said Bush can be trusted in a crisis, while 46 percent said Kerry could be trusted. A bare majority (52 percent) said Bush has made the country safer; 39 percent said Kerry will do so if he is elected.
Three in four said they see Bush as a politician who takes a position and sticks to it; four in 10 said the same of Kerry. On the other hand, while 49 percent said Bush is willing to listen to different points of view, 69 percent said that of Kerry. Kerry scored higher than Bush on which one understands the problems of ordinary Americans.
On the question of which candidate shares their values, the public was closely divided -- 49 percent said Bush shared their values while 48 percent said the same of Kerry, a finding that reflects the divided electorate.
A total of 1,005 randomly selected adults were interviewed May 20-23. The margin of sampling error for the overall results is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Assistant polling director Claudia Deane contributed to this report.
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