How Low Can He Go?

By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Tuesday, February 28, 2006; 12:42 PM

President Bush's job approval rating is at a staggeringly low 34 percent, down 8 points from last month, according to a new CBS News poll. That's right: Just a third of Americans think he's doing a good job.

To find other numbers that low in the CBS poll, you have to go back 14 years to Bush's father. Bill Clinton never had it so bad.

To find numbers even lower, you have to go back to Jimmy Carter's disastrous 1979 -- or to Richard Nixon in 1974, who Gallup-polled as low as 23 just before he resigned.

Theoretically, the good part of being a divisive, love-him-or-hate-him president is that your core followers are bound to you with ferocious tenacity. But the Dubai port deal and the ongoing carnage in Iraq appear to be eating away even at Bush's most loyal base.

Elisabeth Bumiller and Marjorie Connelly write in the New York Times: "There has been a decline in Mr. Bush's support even among Republicans. In the January Times/CBS News poll, 83 percent of Republicans approved of the way he was handling his job; in the latest poll 72 percent approve. Approval among self-identified conservatives also dropped to 52 percent, from 62 percent.

"A decline in the president's job performance rating was halted late last fall by positive economic news, the Iraqi elections, the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. and a public relations effort to improve his image. But the latest poll shows that the ratings for his overall handling of the job, as well as his management of the economy, Iraq and the campaign against terrorism, have all dropped."

CBS News reports that "pessimism about the Iraq war has risen to a new high.

"Americans are also overwhelmingly opposed to the Bush-backed deal giving a Dubai-owned company operational control over six major U.S. ports. Seven in 10 Americans, including 58 percent of Republicans, say they're opposed to the agreement.

"In a separate poll, two out of three Americans said they do not think President Bush has responded adequately to the needs of Katrina victims. Only 32 percent approve of the way President Bush is responding to those needs, a drop of 12 points from last September's poll, taken just two weeks after the storm made landfall."

CBS says the "bright spot for the administration" is that "most Americans appeared to have heard enough about Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident. . . .

"Still, the incident appears to have made the public's already negative view of Cheney more so. Just 18 percent said they had a favorable view of the vice president, down from 23 percent in January."

Here are the poll results . Here are CBS's Katrina-related poll results .

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