Poll: More Bad News For Bush

generic bush poll white house CBS/AP

Most Americans believe someone in the Bush Administration did leak Valerie Plame's name to reporters – even though Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald indicted no one for doing that. Half of the public describes the matter as something of great importance to the country, and this poll finds low assessments of both the President and the Vice President – with the President's overall approval rating dropping again to its lowest point ever.

The nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court has had minimal impact so far, and assessments of the war in Iraq remain negative – with more than ever before saying the Administration was less than honest in discussing their reasons for war.

There is one less dark spot — perhaps reflecting lower gas prices, far fewer now than one month ago are pessimistic about the future of the economy.

ASSESSING THE INDICTMENTS

The indictments handed up last week against former Vice-Presidential Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby included perjury — but they did not charge Libby or anyone else with actually leaking the name of agent Valerie Plame. However, six in ten Americans believe that someone in the Bush Administration did leak her name. This is up from July, when 52 percent thought so. One-quarter today, as in July, aren't sure.

DID SOMEONE IN BUSH ADMIN. LEAK AGENT'S NAME?

Yes
Now
62%
7/2005
52%

No
Now
14%
7/2005
21%

Don't know
Now
24%
7/2005
27%

Many Americans will withhold judgment on Scooter Libby for now: 54 percent say they can't tell now if they think the charges against Libby are true or not. Of those with an opinion, the overwhelming number thinks the charges against him are probably true.

ARE THE CHARGES AGAINST LIBBY TRUE?
Yes, probably true 39%
No, probably not 4%
Haven't heard enough to say 54%

Many Americans have not focused on the role of Karl Rove, the President's Deputy Chief of Staff, who was not charged with any crime last week: half says they don't know if Rove did anything wrong or not.

KARL ROVE: HIS ACTIONS IN CIA MATTER WERE…
Wrong & unethical 14%
Wrong & illegal 8%
Wrong, unethical AND illegal 7%
Did nothing wrong 19%
Don't know 51%

Americans view the actions of Rove differently from the actions of Libby, who was charged. Just one in three thinks anything Rove may have done would be serious enough to warrant prosecution, and many – four in ten – can't say at this point. As for Libby, 61 percent do think his actions are serious enough to deserve prosecution.

LIBBY & ROVE: DO THEIR ACTIONS DESERVE PROSECUTION?

Libby
Yes
61%
No
14%
Don't know
25%

Rove
Yes
36%
No
24%
Don't know
40%

Nearly two-thirds of Americans – 64 percent - say they have heard at least something about the investigation, including 27 percent who have heard a lot about it and 37 percent who have heard some. Last July, 19 percent had heard a lot about it. Still, even after Friday's indictments, more than a third say they've heard little or nothing about the investigation.

HAVE YOU HEARD OR READ ABOUT CIA LEAK INVESTIGATION?

A lot
Now
27%
7/2005
19%

Some
Now
37%
7/2005
35%

Not much/none
Now
36%
7/2005
45%

51 percent say the CIA leak is of great importance to the nation. This exceeds the 41 percent who, in January of 1998, said the matter between then-President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky was of great importance. It is closer to the 48 percent who gave such a level of import to Iran-Contra in February, 1987, although that was a few months after the scandal had broken. 53 percent placed Watergate in that category in a 1973 Gallup poll, which was also some months after the news had broken. Just 20 percent thought the Whitewater scandal in March, 1994 was of great importance.

HOW IMPORTANT TO THE NATION IS THE CIA LEAK MATTER?

CIA Leak
Great importance
51%
Some importance
35%
Little/no importance
12%

Clinton-Lewinsky (1/98)
Great importance
41%
Some importance
21%
Little/no importance
37%

Whitewater (3/94)
Great importance
20%
Some importance
29%
Little/no importance
45%

Iran-Contra (2/87)
Great importance
48%
Some importance
33%
Little/no importance
19%

Watergate (5/73; Gallup Poll)
Great importance
53%
Some importance
25%
Little/no importance
22%
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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