Poll: Bush Gets Terror Boost, But...

President Bush APTN

The dismantling of the London terror plot hasn't helped President Bush with U.S. voters, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll.

The survey shows that while the president received a modest boost for his handling of terrorism (55 percent approve) in the wake of the plot, concerns about Iraq, the economy and the Mideast neutralized that advantage. As a result, Mr. Bush's approval rating remained at 36 percent.

That number was unchanged from last week and from a poll conducted in July, before the latest terrorist-related arrests in Great Britain. For most of this year, Mr. Bush's approval rating has hovered in the mid 30s.

The survey also suggests that the partisan divide has grown a bit wider in recent months. The president's approval rating among Republicans has risen slightly, from 68 percent in April to 74 percent now. But only about three in 10 independents approve of the job Mr. Bush is doing, as do less than one in 10 Democrats.

Both terrorism (24 percent) and the war in Iraq (22 percent) are at the top of Americans' list of the priorities they would most like to see addressed.

And the president's approval rating on terrorism, historically his strongest suit, has risen in this poll, to 55 percent now, up from 51 percent earlier in August. This is the highest it has been since July 2005.

While he gets credit for dealing with terrorism, Mr. Bush is still hampered by low approval ratings on one of the most important issues of the day, the war in Iraq.

Only three in 10 Americans approve of how he is handling the war, and more than twice as many -– 65 percent -- disapprove. Since early this year, only about three in 10 Americans have approved of the president's handling of Iraq.

Many Americans don't see a link between the war in Iraq and the war on terror, which may help to explain the very different ratings the president receives on the two issues.

When asked if the war in Iraq was part of a general war on terror, 51 percent of Americans say it is not – matching the largest percentage since the question was first asked in 2003. Forty-four percent say it is part of the war on terror, including 32 percent who say it is a major part.

Almost half of all Americans – 46 percent - believe the Bush administration has focused too much on Iraq over the last couple of years and not enough on terrorism elsewhere in the world, the highest number since CBS started asking the question a year ago.

The president's approval rating is also being held down by voter dissatisfaction with the economy. Only 35 percent have a favorable view of his economic stewardship.

Americans are also clearly pessimistic when assessing the direction the country is going in as a whole. Now 67 percent of all Americans think the country is off on the wrong track, while just 29 percent think the country is going in the right direction.
  • Joel Roberts

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