Bush Poll Numbers Continue To Fall

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He doesn’t even have a majority of Republicans:

Even in his own party, just under half of Republicans, 49 percent, now strongly approve of Bush’s job performance; it was 71 percent at the start of the year â€â€? a huge 22-point fall in home-crowd intensity. And it’s a similar story among conservatives, another core Bush group: Their strong approval has fallen 14 points this year, to 38 percent.

Expect Republican politicians to start jumping off Bush’s sinking ship soon. After all, they’ll need to get some distance between him and their re-election campaigns.

Here are some more lowlights of the poll:

  • Military Casualties: In this poll, 73 percent of Americans call the level of U.S. military casualties in Iraq “unacceptable,” and fewer than half, 46 percent, think the war has contributed to the long-term security of the United States. Security is the positive side of cost-benefit evaluations of the war; without it balancing the costs, support for the war goes down. And indeed, just 39 percent now say the war was worth fighting.
  • Gas: Gasoline prices were rising even before Katrina; immediately after it made landfall they hit a record, $3.07 a gallon, and consumer confidence tanked. While gas prices have eased since, economic complaints continue apace. Bush’s 61 percent disapproval for handling the economy is the worst since his father’s 72 percent in summer 1992.
  • Terrorism: Republicans still are with Bush â€â€? 86 percent approve of his work on terrorism â€â€? but that plummets to 39 percent among independents (the quintessential swing group), and barely over two in 10 Democrats.
  • Confidence: Measures of confidence tell a similar story: Just 29 percent of Americans express substantial confidence in the Bush administration, while 71 percent don’t. And nearly half, 49 percent, say their confidence in the administration has been decreasing lately, while a scant two percent say it’s been rising. Even among Republicans and conservatives, about a third say their confidence has decreased.

However, Bush shouldn’t give up hope. Bad poll numbers are the hallmark of many second terms:

But history shows that tides of opinion can turn. In late 1995, just 25 percent expressed confidence in the Clinton administration. That improved for Clinton in a retrospective measurement at the end of his presidency five years later.

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