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Bush Approval Tumbling; Worst Marks Since 2001
Published on Friday, September 12, 2003 by the USA Today
Bush's Approval Rating Drops to Lowest Since 9/11
Bush Approval Tumbling; Worst Marks Since 2001
by Richard Benedetto
 

WASHINGTON — President Bush's public standing, on a downward trend all summer, has slid to its lowest point since the Sept. 11 attacks two years ago, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll shows.

Due in large part to an economy that continues to lose jobs and a situation in Iraq that is messier and more costly than the administration predicted, Bush is taking a hit.

A thin majority, 52%, approve of the overall job he is doing, down from this year's high of 71% in mid-April, when the war in Iraq still had a glow of victory.

It's even further from his 90% job approval rating in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Bush gets his lowest marks on the economy; fewer than half approve of his stewardship. The president got further bad news Thursday with a report that claims for unemployment benefits increased last week.

Bush says often that other economic indicators suggest the outlook is bright and that his tax cuts will soon create more jobs. "When Americans have more take-home pay to spend people are more likely to find a job," he said Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale.

Democratic pollster Mark Mellman says Bush "has benefited from circumstances beyond his control. Now reality is setting in."

Bush's slippage suggests that if the election were held today, he would be in a tough fight. Among registered voters, he holds a slim 4-percentage point lead over an unnamed Democrat. He had a double-digit lead two weeks ago.

"Taking a fall was inevitable, but he is increasingly vulnerable now," says Jaime Regalado, a political scientist at California State University at Los Angeles.

On Iraq, where the news has been dominated by continued attacks on U.S. troops, 51% approve of Bush's management. Public satisfaction with the way things are going there has fallen below 50% for the first time, to 47%.

"The war in Iraq is showing escalating costs in money and human life, and the American public is showing escalating doubts," Regalado says.

After a nationally televised speech Sunday night in which Bush called Iraq the "central front" in the war on terrorism, more than half say his administration does not have a clear plan for handling the situation there.

Most still say Iraq was worth going to war over, but that support has dwindled, too, in the five months since a statue of Saddam Hussein fell in Baghdad.

Still, two in three give Bush high marks for his leadership in the overall war on terrorism.

Americans continue to have more confidence in Republicans than Democrats to keep the nation safe from terrorism and other military threats, by 51%-36%.

" With all that anti-war rhetoric, the Democrats are appealing only to their core voters," Republican pollster Bill McInturff says.

USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll results

1. Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?

    Approve Disapprove No opinion
2003 Sep 8-10 52 43 5
2003 Aug 25-26 59 37 4
2003 Aug 4-6 60 36 4
2003 Jul 18-20 59 38 3
2003 Jun 12-15 63 33 4
2003 May 5-7 69 28 3
2003 Apr 14-16 71 24 5
2003 Mar 14-15 58 38 4
2003 Mar 3-5 57 37 6
2003 Feb 3-6 59 35 6
2003 Jan 13-16 61 34 5
2003 Jan 3-5 63 32 5

2. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job?

    Approve Disapprove No opinion
2003 Sep 8-10 40 53 7
2003 Aug 4-6 45 46 9
2003 Jul 7-9 49 45 6
2003 Jun 12-15 50 41 9
2003 May 5-7 49 44 7
2003 Apr 7-9 58 33 9
2003 Mar 3-5 48 44 8
2003 Feb 3-6 50 39 11
2003 Jan 13-16 49 40 11

3. In general, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time?

  Satisfied Dissatisfied No opinion
2003 Sep 8-10 40 58 2
2003 Aug 4-6 46 52 2
2003 Jul 7-9 50 48 2
2003 Jun 12-15 47 51 2
2003 May 5-7 54 45 1
2003 Apr 7-9 55 41 4
2003 Mar 22-23 60 38 2
2003 Mar 3-5 36 61 3
2003 Feb 17-19 39 58 3
2003 Feb 3-6 40 58 2
2003 Jan 13-16 42 56 2

4. Are you very satisfied/dissatisfied, or just somewhat satisfied/dissatisfied?

  Very satisfied Somewhat satisfied Somewhat dissatisfied Very dissatisfied No opinion
2003 Sep 8-10 8 32 30 28 2
2003 Jan 13-16 8 34 32 24 2
1995 Aug 11-14 5 28 37 27 3

5. Do you think the tax cuts recently signed into law by George W. Bush were a good idea or a bad idea at this time?

                Good idea Bad idea No opinion
2003 Sep 8-10 49 46 5
2003 May 30-Jun 1 47 43 10
2003 May 19-21 ^ 45 46 9
2003 May 5-7 ^ 52 41 7
2003 Apr 22-23 ^ 42 47 11
^ Asked of a half sample.  WORDING: Do you think the tax cuts being proposed by George W. Bush are – [ROTATED: a good idea (or) a bad idea] – at this time?

6. Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling:

The economy

    Approve Disapprove No opinion
2003 Sep 8-10 45 53 2
2003 Aug 25-26 45 52 3
2003 Jul 25-27 46 51 3
2003 Jun 12-15 48 48 4
2003 May 5-7 53 44 3
2003 Apr 14-16 49 45 6
2003 Mar 24-25 52 42 6
2003 Feb 3-6 44 52 4
2003 Jan 3-5 49 47 4

Foreign affairs

    Approve Disapprove No opinion
2003      
2003 Sep 8-10 52 45 3
2003 Aug 25-26 55 42 3
2003 Jul 25-27 54 42 4
2003 Jun 12-15 58 39 3
2003 May 5-7 68 30 2
2003 Apr 14-16 65 31 4
2003 Mar 14-15 53 43 4
2003 Feb 3-6 49 46 5
2003 Jan 3-5 60 35 5

The situation with Iraq

  Approve Disapprove No opinion
2003 Sep 8-10 51 47 2
2003 Aug 25-26 57 41 2
2003 Jul 25-27 60 38 2
2003 Jul 18-20 57 39 4
2003 Jul 7-9 58 39 3
2003 Jun 12-15 63 34 3
2003 Apr 14-16 76 21 3
2003 Mar 29-30 71 27 2
2003 Mar 24-25 71 26 3
2003 Mar 14-15 56 41 3
2003 Jan 31-Feb 2 54 42 4
2003 Jan 3-5 55 40 5
2002 Dec 9-10 55 39 6
2002 Oct 21-22 52 40 8

Terrorism

  Approve Disapprove No opinion
2003 Sep 8-10 64 34 2
2003 Aug 25-26 66 31 3
2003 Jan 31-Feb 2 71 26 3
2002 May 20-22 ^ 83 13 4
2002 Apr 5-7 ^ 83 13 4
^ WORDING: U.S. military action abroad to fight terrorism.

7. If George W. Bush runs for re-election in 2004, in general, are you more likely to vote for Bush or for the Democratic Party's candidate for president?

                Bush Democratic candidate Other (vol.) No opinion
(NA) 2003 Sep 8-10 46 43 4 7
(NA) 2003 Aug 25-26 51 39 4 6
(NA) 2003 Jul 25-27 48 40 5 7
(NA) 2003 Jul 18-20 47 41 3 9
(NA) 2003 Jun 12-18 50 38 3 9
(NA) 2003 Apr 22-23 49 35 3 13
(NA) 2003 Mar 29-30 51 36 4 9
(NA) 2003 Mar 14-15 45 42 5 8
(NA) 2003 Feb 24-26 46 40 4 10

8. How satisfied are you with the way things are going for the U.S. in the war on terrorism -- very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, not too satisfied, or not at all satisfied?

                Very satisfied Somewhat satisfied Not too satisfied Not at all satisfied No opinion
2003 Sep 8-10 14 52 21 12 1
2003 Jan 31-Feb 2 ^ 18 45 21 15 1
2002 Sep 2-4 14 61 18 6 1
^ Asked of a half sample.

9. All in all, do you think the situation in Iraq was worth going to war over, or not?

  Worth going to war Not worth going to war No opinion
2003 Sep 8-10 58 40 2
2003 Aug 25-26 63 35 2
2003 Jul 25-27 63 34 3
2003 Jun 27-29 56 42 2
2003 Apr 14-16 ^ 73 23 4
2003 Apr 9 ^ † 76 19 5
2003 Apr 7-8 ^ 67 30 3
2003 Mar 24-25 ^ ‡ 68 29 3
2003 Jan 3-5 ^ ‡ 53 42 5
^ WORDING: All in all, do you think the current situation in Iraq is worth going to war over, or not?
† Polls conducted entirely in one day, such as this one, are subject to additional error or bias not found in polls conducted over several days.
‡ Asked of a half sample.

               

10. How would you say things are going for the U.S. in Iraq now that the major fighting has ended – very well, moderately well, moderately badly, or very badly?

  Very well Moderately well Moderately badly Very  badly No opinion
2003 Sep 8-10 6 41 31 21 1
2003 Aug 25-26 6 44 30 19 1
2003 Jul 25-27 10 46 28 15 1
2003 Jul 18-20 6 48 30 15 1
2003 Jun 27-29 5 51 29 13 2
2003 May 30-Jun 1 11 59 22 7 1
2003 May 5-7 ^ 30 56 10 3 1
2003 Apr 22-23 ^ 21 64 12 2 1
^ Asked of a half sample.

11. Do you think the Bush administration does – or does not – have a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq?

  Yes, does No, does not No opinion
2003 Sep 8-10 40 59 1
2003 Aug 25-26 44 54 2

12. President Bush requested that Congress authorize an additional $87 billion in government spending for Iraq and the war on terrorism.  Do you think Congress should – or should not – vote to authorize this?

  Yes, should No, should not No opinion
2003 Sep 8-10 46 51 3

13. Please tell me which of those candidates you would be most likely to support for the Democratic nomination for President in the year 2004.

13a. If Wesley Clark DOES NOT run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004, please tell me which of those candidates you would be most likely to support for the nomination.

  If Clark runs If Clark doesn’t run
Dick Gephardt 15 17
Howard Dean 13 15
Joe Lieberman 12 13
John Kerry 11 13
Wesley Clark 9 --
Carol Moseley Braun 5 5
Bob Graham 5 6
John Edwards 5 5
Al Sharpton 3 3
Dennis Kucinich 2 2
Other 1 1
No One 5 5
No Opinion 14 15
Based on 480 Democrats or Democratic Leaners. Margin of error: ±5 percentage points

14. Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of each of the following parties. 

The Republican Party 

  Favorable Unfavorable Never heard of No opinion
2003 Sep 8-10 50 44 -- 6
2003 Mar 29-30 56 33 1 10
2003 Jan 3-5 51 38 1 10
2002 Dec 16-17 51 38 1 10
2002 Jan 11-14 61 30 * 9

The Democratic Party

  Favorable Unfavorable Never heard of No opinion
2003 Sep 8-10 49 45 -- 6
2003 Mar 29-30 49 39 1 11
2003 Jan 3-5 52 36 1 11
2002 Dec 16-17 52 37 1 10
2002 Jan 11-14 55 33 * 12

15. Looking ahead for the next few years, which political party do you think will do a better job of protecting the country from international terrorism and military threats -- the Republican Party or the Democratic Party?

                Republican Democratic No difference (vol.)/ No opinion
2003 Sep 8-10 51 36 13
2002 Sep 5-8 50 31 19

16. Looking ahead for the next few years, which political party do you think will do a better job of keeping the country prosperous -- the Republican Party or the Democratic Party?

  Republican Democrat No difference/No opinion
2003 Sep 8-10 42 46 12
2002 Sep 5-8 42 42 16
2001 Sep 7-10 41 45 14
2000 Oct 6-9 40 47 13

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,025 National Adults, aged 18+, conducted September 8-10, 2003.  For results based on the total sample of National Adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

© Copyright 2003 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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