A clear majority of Americans say President Bush is ignoring the public's concerns and instead has become distracted by issues that most people say they care little about, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The survey found that 58 percent of those interviewed said Bush is mainly concentrating in his second term on problems and partisan squabbles that these respondents said were unimportant to them. Four in 10--41 percent--said the president was focused on important problems--a double-digit drop from three years ago.
Underlying that finding is a continuing deep and bitter partisan divide that has fueled increasingly bitter fights in Congress, most recently over some of Bush's nominees to the federal courts. Relatively few Americans viewed that issue as particularly important.
According to the poll, nearly eight in 10 Democrats say Bush is not concentrating on issues they personally view as vital while three out of four Republicans disagree.
Ominously for Bush and the Republicans, a strong majority of self-described political independents--68 percent--say they disagreed with the president's priorities. That suggests Bush's mixed record in the second term on issues the public views as critical--particularly on Iraq and the economy--may be as much a liability for GOP candidates in next year's mid-term election as his performance in his first term was an asset to Republican congressional hopefuls last year and in 2002.
Overall, the president's job approval rating stood at 48 percent, virtually identical to where it was last month. Currently 52 percent of the public disapproves of the job Bush is doing as president, the highest negative rating of his performance since taking office.
Continuing violence in Iraq continues to fuel negative views of the White House. Four in 10 Americans currently approve of the job that Bush is doing in Iraq while 58 percent disapproved. It marked the 13th consecutive month that less than half of the country approved of Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq.
A total of 1,002 randomly selected adults were interviewed June 2-5 for this survey. Margin of sampling error for the overall results is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Complete results of this Washington Post-ABC News poll will be available at washingtonpost.com at 5 p.m. today.