Bush's low job approval is far below that of some of his two-term predecessors at this point in their second terms. In November 1985, President Reagan had a 65 percent approval rating, and Bill Clinton's job approval in November 1997 was 57 percent. Bush's rating is higher than Richard Nixon's was at the same point in his administration.
BUSH VS. OTHER PRESIDENTS: APPROVAL RATINGS DURING SECOND TERMS
Nixon, Gallup Poll, 11/1973
Eisenhower, Gallup Poll, 11/1957
Both Reagan and Clinton endured scandals during their second terms. In January 1998, when facing questions about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, President Clinton's job approval ratings actually rose, reaching the low 70s, and remained at least in the 60s throughout the rest of that year. President Reagan's job approval rating dropped by more than 20 points to 46 percent in November 1986, just after public disclosures about the Iran-Contra scandal. During 1987 Reagan's approval rating hovered around 50 percent, but began to rise again in 1988. President Richard Nixon's approval rating fell as the Watergate scandal became public in the first half of 1973, and was at about 25 percent during 1974.
President Bush's approval rating has been experiencing a slow but steady decline since 2004.
BUSH VS. OTHER PRESIDENTS: APPROVAL RATINGS DURING SCANDALS
The President's ratings on specific issues also remain low, but are not much changed since last month.
PRES. BUSH JOB APPROVALS
Evaluations of President Bush's leadership fell markedly in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in early September, and have yet to recover. 49 percent of Americans think Bush has strong qualities of leadership, 47 percent think he does not. Before the hurricane (and throughout much of his prior time as president) about two thirds of the public saw Bush as a strong leader.
DOES BUSH HAVE STRONG QUALITIES OF LEADERSHIP?
A sizable segment of the public is concerned about the President's ties to evangelical Christians; 34 percent think evangelicals have too much influence in Bush's decisions. 14 percent think they have too little influence, while 25 percent think their influence is about right. 45 percent of white evangelicals themselves think they have about the right amount of influence, while another 25 percent think they have too little.
EVANGELICALS' INFLUENCE ON BUSH'S DECISIONS
The public continues to have doubts about U.S. involvement in Iraq; half thinks U.S. troops should leave as soon as possible. And views on whether the U.S. should have entered the war in the first place have changed little over the past few months. Half of Americans think the U.S. should have stayed out of Iraq, while 42 percent think taking military action there was the right thing to do.
DID U.S. DO THE RIGHT THING GOING TO WAR WITH IRAQ?
Should have stayed out
64 percent say the result of the war with Iraq wasn't worth the loss of American life and the war's other costs; 31 percent think it was.
IS RESULT OF WAR IN IRAQ WORTH ITS COSTS?
Moreover, Americans do not think U.S. efforts to bring stability and order to Iraq are going well. 57 percent think things are going badly for the U.S. in Iraq right now, while 40 percent say things are going well for the U.S.
As for Iraq's future, the public remains divided on whether Iraq will ever become a stable democracy. 48 percent think that will never happen, but about as many think it will. Most of those who foresee a stable democracy in Iraq say it will take longer than a year or two for that to occur.
WILL IRAQ BECOME STABLE DEMOCRACY?
Yes, in next year or two 3%
Yes, will take longer 46%
No, never 48%
As casualties mount, half of Americans think U.S. troops should leave Iraq as soon as possible, but 43 percent think they should stay until Iraq is stable even if that takes a long time. The number who want troops to leave soon is down from last month.
U.S. TROOPS IN IRAQ SHOULD…
Stay as long as it takes
Leave as soon as possible
ASSESSING THE SUPREME COURT NOMINATIONS
Overall, the public is not completely comfortable with the President's decision-making about Supreme Court nominees: 54 percent are uneasy about who the president will select for the Supreme Court, while 38 percent have confidence that Bush will nominate good justices. But the recent withdrawal of Bush's Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers and the confirmation of John Roberts as Chief Justice do not appear to have had much effect on these views; in July, prior to Bush making any Supreme Court selections, a majority of Americans were uneasy about who he might choose.
BUSH'S SUPREME COURT NOMINEES:
On Monday, President Bush nominated Judge Samuel Alito as Associate Justice to the Supreme Court, to replace the retiring Sandra Day O'Connor. At this early stage, Judge Alito is unknown to most Americans: Eight in 10 of those interviewed after he was named are unable to offer an opinion of him. Among those with an opinion, 11 percent have a favorable one, while 7 percent view him unfavorably.
This immediate public reaction to Judge Alito (in interviews conducted Monday and Tuesday) is somewhat different from the immediate reaction to Harriet Miers. Most Americans also were unable to voice an opinion of Miers immediately after the announcement of her nomination, but those with an opinion were very much divided: 11% viewed her favorably, while the same number viewed her unfavorably. The public's first read on John Roberts, ten days after President Bush nominated him, was much more positive than opinions of either Alito or Miers.
OPINIONS OF RECENT SUPREME COURT NOMINEES
Undecided/haven't heard enough 81%
Undecided/haven't heard enough 77%
Undecided/haven't heard enough 68%
In this poll, 26 percent of Republicans hold a favorable view of Judge Alito, compared to just 2% of Democrats.
In early October, Americans were split as to whether Miers should be confirmed. Today, 15 percent think Judge Alito should be confirmed as an Associate Justice to the Supreme Court, while 7 percent say the Senate should vote against him. Three-quarters cannot say whether he should be confirmed or not – a typical number this early in the confirmation process.
SHOULD ALITO BE CONFIRMED?
Can't say 75%
After three nominations to the Supreme Court, including one confirmation and one withdrawal, fewer than half of Americans describe the president's nominations as "about right" ideologically. 30 percent of Americans say President Bush's nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court have been more conservative than they would like, while just 16 percent believe Bush's nominees have not been conservative enough.
GEORGE W. BUSH'S SUPREME COURT NOMINEES HAVE BEEN…
Too conservative 30%
Not conservative enough 16%
About right 45%
Conservatives appear ideologically content with the President's nominations; 66 percent say his nominees have been about right. In addition, 68 percent of white evangelicals say Bush's nominations to the Supreme Court have been about right.
Americans want the Senate to consider a Supreme Court nominee's positions on the issues in addition to his or her legal qualifications. The public was much more divided on this question back in July, prior to the nomination of John Roberts.
WHEN EVALUATING A COURT NOMINEE, SENATE SHOULD CONSIDER:
Legal qualifications only
Positions on issues also
ASSESSING THE ECONOMY AND THE STATE OF THE COUNTRY
The public's views of the nation's economy have improved slightly from last month, but half still say the economy is in bad shape.
VIEWS OF THE ECONOMY
But there is even better news on the economic front. Today, 40 percent think the economy is getting worse – down 14 points from the 54 percent who thought that last month. 16 percent now say the economy is getting better, while 44 percent say it is staying the same.
ECONOMY IS GETTING:
The economy remains one of the most important issues Americans want the government to address, outranked only by the war with Iraq. These are followed by such issues as terrorism, gas and oil prices, and health care.
U.S. MOST IMPORTANT PROBLEM
War in Iraq 21%
Economy and jobs 17%
Gas/oil crisis 4%
Health care 4%
President Bush 4%
War in Iraq 18%
Economy and jobs 6%
Gas/oil crisis 5%
Health care 2%
President Bush 5%
Americans continue to hold a dim view of the state of the country overall. 68 percent say things in the U.S. are pretty seriously off on the wrong track, while just 27 percent think things are going in the right direction.
DIRECTION OF THE COUNTRY
ASSESSING THE ADMINISTRATION
While many Americans consider the CIA leak matter serious, the overwhelming majority of them admit they really know little about two of its main figures – Scooter Libby and Karl Rove. Those who do offer views on the two offer negative ones.
VIEWS OF LIBBY, ROVE
Undecided/can't say 71%
Undecided/can't say 68%
One Administration official did stand out as favorably-regarded: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Secretary Rice is seen favorably by 41 percnet and unfavorably by only 19 percent, more than a 2-to-1 margin. Still, four in 10 Americans are either undecided on her or haven't heard enough about her to offer an opinion.
VIEWS OF CONDOLEEZZA RICE
Undecided/ Can't say 40%
Most of the interviewing for this poll was conducted before the Democrats forced the Senate into closed session on Tuesday. Congressional approval ratings remain quite low, although about as many approve of Congress as approve of President Bush. They have been low most of this year. 34 percent now approve of the job Congress is doing.
CONGRESS JOB APPROVAL
Continuing a trend seen earlier this year, the Democrats in Congress are viewed in a more positive light than the Republicans, although both are low. 4 percent view the Democrats in Congress favorably, while 35 percent say the same about the Republicans.
But the Republicans may be doing a better job than Democrats at satisfying their own constituents. 62 percent of Democrats have a favorable view of the Democrats in Congress, while 29 percent are unfavorable. Among Republicans, 71 percent have a favorable view of Republican members of Congress, and only 20 percent have an unfavorable view.
This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 936 adults, interviewed by telephone October 30-November 1, 2005. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points.
Nov. 2, 2005