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Poll: More Bad News For Bush

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%


Six in ten Democrats say the matter is of great importance, compared to four in ten Republicans who agree. However, more than eight in ten Republicans rate it as at least somewhat important.

But as serious as it may be, Americans also see politics in the investigation, too. 51 percent describe it as mostly politics, while 43 percent say it is a very serious matter concerning the honesty of the White House. During the midst of the Watergate scandal in August 1973, 46 percent of Americans in a Harris Poll saw that matter as mostly politics, too.

THE CIA LEAK MATTER: MOSTLY POLITICS?
Yes 51%
No 43%

ASSESSING HONESTY
Some critics of the Bush Administration have seen the leak investigation as part of a larger theme, the rationale behind the Iraq war. When asked if the administration was telling all or most of what they knew about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, 32 percent of Americans think they were. But slightly more – 38 percent- think the Bush Administration was hiding important elements of what they knew, and another quarter believe they were mostly lying about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction before taking military action. The number who thinks the Administration was either hiding something or lying is the highest ever in CBS News polls.

BEFORE THE WAR, WHEN TALKING ABOUT WEAPONS IN IRAQ,
BUSH ADMINISTRATION WAS…

Telling all/most of what they knew
Now
32%
1/2005
37%
2/2004
40%

Hiding important elements
Now
38%
1/2005
36%
2/2004
39%

Mostly lying about weapons
Now
26%
1/2005
23%
2/2004
16%

In general, Americans don't excuse deception. 78 percent of Americans believe that lying, generally, is never justified, while 15 percent think it sometimes is. In 1998, during the Clinton–Lewinsky scandal, 69 percent said lying, generally, is never justified.

President Bush has not been mentioned in the investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame's name, and most Americans say George W. Bush has at least as much or more honesty and integrity than most others in public life. In mid-2004, a majority of registered voters said this as well. However, assessments of Bush's overall honesty may have been damaged by the 2004 campaign; at the start of that year, half the public thought he had more honesty and integrity than most people in public life. That has dropped more than 10 points since then.

COMPARED TO MOST PEOPLE IN PUBLIC LIFE, BUSH'S HONESTY & INTEGRITY IS…

More
Today
39%
7/2004 (reg.)
39%
2/2004
50%

About same
27%
7/2004 (reg.)
27%
2/2004
25%

Less
29%
7/2004 (reg.)
25%
2/2004
14%

Overall, the Bush Administration fares much less well, though just over half the public agrees most members are at least as honest as most people in public life.

COMPARED TO MOST PEOPLE IN PUBLIC LIFE, BUSH & HIS ADMINISTRATION'S HONESTY IS…

Bush Administration
More
20%
About same
35%
Less
31%

George W. Bush
More
39%
About same
27%
Less
29%

ASSESSING THE PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT
Favorable views of George W. Bush are down eleven points since the beginning of the year. Much of this drop has come among Independents: in January at the start of his second term, 41 percent of Independents gave President Bush a favorable rating; today 28 percent do.

The events of this year have also taken a toll on opinions about Vice President Dick Cheney. Today the Vice-President receives only a 19 percent favorable rating from Americans; in January it was 28 percent.

VIEWS OF GEORGE W. BUSH AND DICK CHENEY

George W. Bush
Favorable
Now
33%
1/2005
44%

Unfavorable
Now
51%
1/2005
40%

Undecided/can't say
Now
15%
1/2005
16%

Dick Cheney
Favorable
Now
19%
1/2005
28%

Unfavorable
Now
44%
1/2005
33%

Undecided/can't say
Now
36%
1/2005
38%

The President's job approval rating is now 35 percent, his lowest rating since taking office in 2001. More than half the public disapproves of the job he is doing as president.

PRESIDENT BUSH'S JOB APPROVAL
Approve
35%
Disapprove
57%

77 percent of Republicans approve of his job performance, and the President retains the support of some of his key constituencies. 61 percent of white evangelicals approve of the job he is doing (up from 55 percent a month ago), as do 54 percent of conservatives.

Democrats give the President widespread disapproval, and he gets little support from those Americans who profess no strong ties to either side of the ideological divide. Only 31 percent of Independents and 30 percent of moderates now approve of the job he is doing (nearly the same as a month ago).

BUSH'S JOB APPROVAL RATING AMONG GROUPS

Overall
Now
38%
10/3-5/2005
37%

Republicans
77%
10/3-5/2005
79%

Democrats
11%
10/3-5/2005
14%

Independents
31%
10/3-5/2005
29%

Liberals
14%
10/3-5/2005
15%

Moderates
30%
10/3-5/2005
28%

Conservatives
54%
10/3-5/2005
62%

White Evangelicals
61%
10/3-5/2005
55%

For Part 2 of the poll, click here.
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