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Poll Finds Bush Job Rating at New Low

The public is even more critical of Bush's performance in specific areas. On six of seven key issues, fewer than half of the respondents approve of the job Bush is doing, while majorities express dissatisfaction with him on Iraq (62 percent), health care (62 percent) and immigration (61 percent).

Four in 10 -- 40 percent -- say Bush is doing a good job with the economy, down eight percentage points in a month. One reason for the drop may be the recent sharp increase in fuel costs. Fewer than one in four approve of his handling of gasoline prices, virtually the same as last summer when gas prices topped $3 a gallon. Overall, 44 percent said the increases are causing "serious hardship" in their family, up significantly from August.

Half of the public now disapproves of the way Bush is handling the fight against terrorism, an issue on which majorities of Americans had typically given him high marks until last year.

The depth of public dissatisfaction with Bush and the highly partisan nature of the criticism are underscored by public attitudes toward efforts by some in Congress to censure him or impeach him for his actions as president.

Democratic and Republican congressional leaders view both scenarios as remote possibilities. Still, more than four in 10 Americans -- 45 percent -- favor censuring or formally reprimanding Bush for authorizing wiretaps of telephone calls and e-mails of terrorism suspects without court permission. Two-thirds of Democrats and half of all independents, but only one in six Republicans, support censuring Bush, the poll found.

Last month, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) introduced a resolution in the Senate to censure Bush. A majority of Americans, 56 percent, said his move was driven more by politics than by principle.

Calls to impeach Bush are not resonating beyond Democratic partisans. One-third of Americans, including a majority of Democrats (55 percent), favor impeaching Bush and removing him from office. But more than nine in 10 Republicans and two-thirds of independents oppose impeachment.

The ongoing bloodshed and political chaos in Iraq continue to drag down support for the war, the survey found. Barely four in 10 -- 41 percent -- say the war is worth fighting, down five percentage points since December. Although more than half of Americans think troop levels in Iraq should be decreased, only 15 percent are calling for an immediate withdrawal, a figure that has not varied much over the past year.


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