Zogby poll: Bush approval rating drops among supporters

WASHINGTON, DC — In the face of rising gas prices, partisan sniping over his Supreme Court nominee, and a resumption of insurgent violence in Iraq, Pres. Bush’s job approval rating has slipped into a post-holiday funk, again dipping below 40 percent, a new poll by Zogby International found.

Bush’s approval rating almost mirrors the percentage of respondents — 40 percent — who said the nation overall is headed in the right direction.

The deterioration in the president’s numbers appears to be the result of eroding support among the investor class and others who supported him in his 2004 re-election bid, said pollster John Zogby. And the problem is the Iraq war — just 34 percent of respondents said Bush was doing a good or excellent job managing the war, down from 38 percent approval in a Zogby poll taken in mid-October.

Bush’s overall job approval rating in that poll was at 46 percent.

Among investors, Bush’s support for managing the war dropped five points since October, from 45 percent to 40 percent, Zogby data shows. But Zogby said the glaring split between how Republicans, Democrats and independents think the president is handling Iraq is remarkable.

“The numbers in support for the war in Iraq are extremely low among Democrats and independents,” Zogby said. “This is a partisan war.”

While 61 percent of Republicans said Bush was doing a good job managing the war (down from 70 percent in October), just 11 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of independents gave him good marks in that area. Among Democrats, 71 percent said Bush was doing a “poor” job with the war, while 17 percent said he was doing only a “fair” job.

Among men, 36 percent said the president was handling the war well, while 31 percent of women agreed. Half of those surveyed said they feel safer with Bush as president, compared to 38 percent who said they feel less safe.

Respondents rated the war in Iraq and the “war on terror” as the two top issues facing America. Jobs and the economy were also important, they said, with health care coming in a distant fourth, followed by concern over gas and fuel prices.

Asked about his leadership of foreign policy in general, 36 percent said Bush was doing a good job.

Asked about which party they would support when making a decision about the race for Congress in their home district, Democrats maintained a 33 to 26 percent edge over Republicans.

But as the nation’s capital sinks further into scandal talk revolving around Congress and allegations of improper gifts doled out by lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the poll shows the public has yet to hold one party more responsible than the other. Despite Democratic efforts to paint the Abramoff influence-pedaling case as a Republican scandal, the GOP holds a slight advantage in the minds of respondents when it comes to integrity — 35 percent said they believed Republicans have more integrity, while 34 percent gave the nod to Democrats. Of those polled, 19 percent said neither party had integrity.

The nationwide Zogby poll, conducted Jan. 9-12, included 1,030 interviews and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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