Bush's New Highs and Lows

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, October 1, 2008; 11:56 AM

With his presidency really hitting Americans where it hurts -- in the pocketbook -- the public is turning against George W. Bush in greater numbers than ever.

In the Washington Post/ABC News poll released yesterday, Bush hits a career-low 26 percent approval rating. But even more striking, his 70 percent disapproval rating is the highest of any president since the dawn of modern polling.

Bush's ratings couldn't get any worse among Democrats; what's changed is that more Republicans are now disenchanted, too.

Gary Langer writes for ABC News: "Just two presidents have had lower approval (Richard Nixon and Harry Truman) and none has had higher disapproval in polls since 1938."

Dan Balz and Jon Cohen write in The Washington Post that "the sagging economy has added to the drag on public assessments of the president. . . .

"Nearly three in 10 voters singled out the president as the principal reason the country is in its current economic straits. Wall Street financial institutions and banks followed closely on the blame list. Voters also mention the government, Congress, Republicans, Democrats, overextended home buyers and others as root causes."

Not surprisingly, Republican presidential candidate John McCain's ties to Bush are becoming even more of a drag. "Slightly more than half of voters, 53 percent, said they think the senator from Arizona would lead the country in the same direction as President Bush, a small move up from a Post-ABC poll taken after the GOP convention early last month. Voters who see McCain's candidacy as a continuation of Bush's policies overwhelmingly back [Barack] Obama."

Jon Cohen blogs for The Post that "22 percent, another record low, give [Bush] positive marks on handling the nation's economy.

"There are also signs of growing dissatisfaction among the president's base: 39 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of conservatives now disapprove of how he is handling his job. Both are new highs. And for the first time, a majority of white evangelical Protestants, 52 percent, rate the president's performance negatively. In each of these groups, even higher numbers disapprove of how Bush is handling the economy."

The Gallup Poll earlier this week also found Bush approval at a record low of 27 percent, with only 64 percent of Republicans approving of Bush, down from 71 percent two weeks prior. Independents' and Democrats' ratings were essentially unchanged.

Scare Tactics Lose Their Punch

Dan Eggen writes in The Washington Post: "For the ninth day in a row, President Bush outlined a frightening scenario yesterday that could occur if Congress does not enact his financial rescue package. . . .

"Throughout his presidency, Bush has often relied on similar warnings of imminent danger to gain support for some of his most controversial initiatives, including the U.S. invasion of Iraq, tax cuts and broad expansions of federal surveillance powers.

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