WASHINGTON – President Bush's (search) standing with the public has improved since his surprise Thanksgiving trip to Iraq amid signs of a stronger economy and following congressional passage of a prescription drug benefit under Medicare.
Bush's job approval was at 61 percent in the National Annenberg Election Survey (search) conducted the four days after the holiday, up from 56 percent during the four days before Thanksgiving. Disapproval of the president dropped from 41 percent to 36 percent, according to the poll released Tuesday.
Bush visited the troops in Baghdad on Thanksgiving — a move that even won praise from political opponents.
Public opinion about Bush personally also improved during the four-day, post-holiday span, with an increase in the number who view him favorably from 65 percent to 72 percent. Republicans shifted from 83 percent with a favorable view of Bush personally to 94 percent. Democrats moved from 46 percent to 55 percent.
Public opinion on the war in Iraq (search) did not shift significantly, however. People were about evenly split on whether the war in Iraq was worthwhile before the holiday and afterward.
Approval of Bush's handling of Iraq increased slightly, with 44 percent approving and 53 percent disapproving before Thanksgiving, and people evenly split on that question now. The public view of his handling of the economy also shifted from a 45-51 percent split before Thanksgiving to a public divided almost evenly on his handling of the economy, 50-48, afterward.
The margin of sampling error for the 789 people interviewed before Thanksgiving and the 847 interviewed after was plus or minus 3 percentage points.