On the Economy, 70% Disapprove of Bush

By Jon Cohen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Public disapproval of the way President Bush is handling the nation's economy has hit a new high in Washington Post-ABC News polling, and his overall favorability rating remains near an all-time low.

Seven in 10 Americans now give negative ratings to the president's stewardship of the sinking U.S. economy. Only 28 percent approve of his performance in this area, a double-digit decline from a year ago, and even core Republicans have begun to abandon the president on the issue.

Among Republicans, 59 percent approve of the way he is handling the economy, down from 70 percent at the beginning of February and well off his career average of about 80 percent from his party's base. Only a quarter of independents and 6 percent of Democrats approve of Bush's performance on the economy.

Republicans have been more steadfast in their overall support for Bush and in their assessments of his handling of the situation in Iraq, with about three-quarters approving of Bush's job performance generally and 68 percent backing him on his war policies.

But most Democrats and independents remain equally settled in their low opinion of the president's performance. Bush's overall rating stands at 33 percent, a percentage point above his all-time low in Post-ABC polling, a level he touched on most recently about six weeks ago. Among Democrats, "strong" disapproval has reached 80 percent for the first time.

It has been more than three years since a majority of Americans approved of how Bush has handled his job, making his streak of low ratings about equal to Harry S. Truman's in Gallup polls from late 1949 through the end of his presidency.

Souring views of the war in Iraq were the primary drag on Bush's ratings -- just as public approval of Truman slipped during each year of the Korean conflict -- but a malaise about the nation's economy is now also weighing on him. The last time a majority expressed positive views of Bush's handling of the economy was in January 2004; that was also the last time more people approved than disapproved of his management of the war in Iraq.

The poll was conducted by telephone April 10 to 13 among a random national sample of 1,197 adults. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Polling analyst Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

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