President's Poll Rating Falls to a New Low
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Rising gas prices and ongoing bloodshed in Iraq continue to take their toll on President Bush, whose standing with the public has sunk to an all-time low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The survey found Bush's job approval rating at 45 percent, down seven points since January and the lowest ever recorded for the president in Post-ABC surveys. Fifty-three percent disapproved of the job Bush is doing.
The war has been a drag on Bush's presidency for many months, but his Iraq approval ratings in the new poll were little changed from two months ago, despite widespread violence, a rash of U.S. casualties, antiwar protests outside the president's Texas ranch and a growing debate about reducing U.S. troop levels.
What may have pushed Bush's overall ratings down in the latest poll is pervasive dissatisfaction over soaring gasoline prices. Two-thirds of those surveyed said gas prices are causing financial hardship to them or their families. Gas prices stand to go even higher after Hurricane Katrina's rampage through the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico.
More ominously for the president, six in 10 Americans said there are steps the administration could take to reduce gas prices. Slightly more than a third say the recent run-up has been due to factors beyond the administration's control.
"I supported him last year," said Gina Coleman, 29, a homemaker living in Camden County, N.J. "I wouldn't vote for him again. It's gas prices, the war -- just the way he has been handling things. The rise in gas is something that has been happening for a long time, and the prices are getting worse. This makes me feel more negative about him, definitely."
Bush also received negative marks for his handling of immigration, the economy and Social Security, although his ratings on the latter two were not as low as they were two months ago. A majority of Americans supported his handling of the campaign against terrorism.
The poll numbers paint a portrait of national frustration with the direction and leadership of the country, which, if not reversed in coming months, is likely to color the environment for next year's midterm elections, putting incumbents in both parties on the defensive.
Dissatisfaction is not limited to the president. Fewer than four in 10 Americans -- 37 percent -- approve of the way the Republican-controlled Congress is doing its job, the lowest rating for lawmakers in nearly eight years.
The survey also provided bad news for Democratic leaders, who are judged as offering Bush only tepid opposition. Slightly more than half of those surveyed expressed dissatisfaction with congressional Democrats for not opposing Bush more aggressively.
"Somebody needs to speak up," said Michelle Burgess, 41, a home health aide in St. Louis. "Enough is enough. I don't understand why we're over there in Iraq or what he's doing on other issues. There are too many lives being lost."