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Agence France Presse

Bush Plunges to New Low in Poll

AFP staff

US President George W. Bush's approval rating plunged to a new low of 29 percent in the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, the Journal reported Thursday.

With the public disenchanted by his Iraq strategy, and in the wake of a White House defeat on a landmark immigration bill, Bush hit his lowest level in six years as president in the WSJ/NBC poll -- the previous low approval rate was 34 percent in December 2006. 0614 04

Two-thirds of Americans say they disapprove of how he is leading the country, up from 61 percent also last December.

Likewise, only two Americans in 10 said in the new poll that they feel the country is headed in the right direction, compared to 22 percent just two months ago and 29 percent in December. A high of 68 percent said the country is on the wrong track, 12 points higher than six months ago.

The dismal news for the White House was underscored by equally bad news for Bush's Republican Party 17 months before presidential elections: 49 percent of those surveyed for the poll said they the Democrat Party most closely reflects their beliefs, against 36 percent who felt that about Republicans.

That was the Republican Party's lowest showing in the two decades of the WSJ/NBC poll, the Journal said.

To underscore that, 52 percent of the 1,008 adults surveyed said they would prefer a Democrat in the 2008 race, while only 31 percent said they would choose a Republican.

"The political environment for Republicans continues to erode," pollster Neil Newhouse told the Journal.

The erosion in support for Bush came from his core Republican backers in light of the lack of evident progress toward a resolution of the Iraq war, and following Bush's support for a bill that offers 12 million illegal aliens a chance to become citizens.

The bill, which has stalled in the Senate, provoked deep ire from US conservatives.

However, the Journal noted, the poll was not all good news for Democrats: at just 23 percent, the approval rating for the Democrat-led Congress is lower than Bush's.

Looking at next year's presidential vote, the poll sees Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, outpacing Republican leader Rudolph Giuliani 48 percent to 43 percent.

That is at odds, however, with a Los Angeles Times poll earlier this week which showed that in a hypothetical matchup in next November's election, Giuliani led Clinton 49 percent to 39 percent.

Copyright © 2007 AFP

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