Poll: Two Wars, Two Reactions For Bush

generic bush poll white house CBS/AP

President Bush has focused a series of speeches this week on two things: the "War on Terror" and the war in Iraq. The White House has long contended that the post-9/11 offensive against al Qaeda and the 2003 invasion of Iraq are two sides of the same issue, but a new CBS News/New York Times poll finds that most Americans have very different opinions about each.

When asked to put in their own words what they like best about the Bush presidency, the war on terrorism garners the most responses. One in ten Americans – 11 percent of those polled – cites the president's handling of the war on terrorism as what they like best. Five percent say it is that the president is the "decider" – a term Mr. Bush has used to describe himself. The president's handling of the war in Iraq comes third, with 4 percent.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT THE BUSH PRESIDENCY?

Handling of war on terror

11%

Decisive

5%

Handling of war in Iraq

4%

Taxes

3%

Morality/religion

3%

What is most striking, however, is that more than half the country is unable to volunteer something they like best about the president or say they like nothing.

Nothing

19%

Don't know

34%

There was a clear winner when Americans were asked what about the Bush presidency they liked the least. The poll found overwhelmingly that the answer was the handling of the war in Iraq and its effects. Mr. Bush's handling of immigration, the handling of the economy, and the president's policies in general followed far behind.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE LEAST ABOUT THE BUSH PRESIDENCY?

Handling of the war in Iraq

38%

Handling of immigration

5%

Handling of the economy

5%

Policies in general

5%

Nothing

3%

Don't know

14%

These voluntary answers reflect both the president's low approval rating (36 percent in this poll) and what are clearly his strengths and weaknesses. Fifty-five percent of Americans now approve of the way the president is handling the campaign against terrorism, but only 30 percent approve of how he is handling Iraq.

Even for the president's partisans, the war in Iraq emerges as the number one dislike. It was mentioned by 23 percent of Republicans.

Read the complete poll results (.pdf)

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.


This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 1206 adults interviewed by telephone August 17-21, 2006. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the complete sample.
  • Joel Roberts

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