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Bush sinks in opinion polls, but Democrats offer no alternative
A series of opinion polls published this week demonstrate that the American people decisively oppose the Bush administration and its policies. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found only 39 percent approval for the Bush presidency, with 60 percent opposed. A separate Associated Press-Ipsos poll found Bush’s support even lower, at 37 percent, with 59 percent disapproving.
The disapproval rate was the highest for an incumbent president since Bush’s father was defeated for reelection in 1992. Nine out of 10 self-identified Democratic voters disapproved of Bush, as well as 7 out of 10 independents and even 2 out of 10 Republicans.
The Post-ABC poll found a majority or plurality disapproval of Bush’s policy or performance on every major issue, including, for the first time, the “war on terror.” Some 68 percent said the US was headed in the wrong direction, 65 percent said the economy was in poor or bad shape, 67 percent gave the administration a negative rating on ethics and 59 percent said that top Bush political aide Karl Rove should resign because of his involvement in the CIA leak scandal.
The most important issue in undermining Bush’s political standing is the war in Iraq. Among those polled, 55 percent said that the administration had misled the American people in its case for launching the war in Iraq, while 60 percent said the war was not worth fighting and 73 percent said US casualties in Iraq had reached an “unacceptable” level. Of those who said the United States was headed in the wrong direction, nearly one third cited the Iraq war as their principal concern.
The negative factors cited in the two polls, in addition to the war in Iraq, include Bush’s attack on Social Security, the failures in rescue and recovery in Hurricane Katrina, the debacle of the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, and the indictment of top White House aide I. Lewis Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice.
One striking finding of both polls was the growing intensity of the opposition to Bush: according to the Post-ABC poll, 47 percent strongly disapproved of the Bush presidency, up from 35 percent in January; 20 percent strongly approved, down from 33 percent in January. The AP-Ipsos poll found a similar result: 42 percent said they strongly disapproved of Bush and his policies, while only 20 percent strongly approved.
The Republican-controlled Congress posted an even lower poll rating, with only 35 percent approval, down from 44 percent last February. Asked whom they would prefer in the 2006 congressional elections, when one third of the Senate and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives are at stake, those polled gave preference to the Democrats by 52 percent to 37 percent, the biggest poll margin for the Democrats in more than 20 years.