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Nation Wants a New Direction

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By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, January 15, 2008; 12:42 PM

Americans overwhelmingly want the next president to set the nation in a new direction.

Gary Langer writes for ABC News about the latest Washington Post-ABC News Poll: "Seventy-nine percent of Americans say the next president should set the nation on a new course rather than following the direction in which Bush has been leading. (And two-thirds feel that way strongly.)

"For the first time this is even more than said so about Bush's father, 75 percent, the summer before he was voted out of office in 1992. And it's vastly more than the most who ever wanted a new direction after Reagan (58 percent) or Bill Clinton (48 percent).

"It holds in both parties, albeit to different degrees. Ninety-four percent of leaned Democrats, and 57 percent of leaned Republicans, say they want the next president to take a different direction than Bush's. Claims to the mantle of 'change' are likely to continue apace for the next 10 months."

Bush's job approval rating, driven down by growing economic worries along with continued opposition to the war, is now at 32 percent -- an all-time low in the Post/ABC poll.

Compare that to the 17 percent of Americans who said they agreed with the statement: "We need to keep the country moving in the direction Bush has been taking us."

And, if you do the math, that leads to the conclusion that even among Bush's remaining supporters, almost half think it's time to try something different.

The latest USA Today/Gallup Poll reports almost identical results.

Susan Page and William Risser write in USA Today: "By an overwhelming 4-1 ratio, Americans in a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll say they want a president who will change direction from President Bush -- including not only 97% of Democrats but also a 54% majority of Republicans. . . .

"Ending the war and bringing troops home was the response most often given to an open-ended question in the poll about what sort of change participants want. One in four call a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq the type of change that they would most like to see carried out by the next president."

Americans are also overwhelmingly concerned about the political bankruptcy of the Bush years.

Eighty percent agree that the "failure of the government to solve the major challenges facing the country in the last few years" is either a crisis or a major problem. An identical proportion agree that "Democratic and Republican leaders making decisions based on what is best for their party even if it is not in the best interests of the country" is a crisis or a major problem. Eighty-three percent say that "Powerful special interests having too much control over what the government does" is a crisis or a major problem.


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© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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