President Bush’s job rating has dropped to the lowest of his presidency, and he would tie with an unnamed Democratic opponent if the 2004 election were held today, the latest FOX News poll finds.

The combination of growing concerns about Iraq and gloomy views on the economy appear to be reflected in Bush’s declining job performance rating and re-election support. 

The national poll of registered voters, conducted September 23-24 by Opinion Dynamics Corporation (search), shows an equal number saying they would vote to re-elect President Bush as saying they would vote for the Democratic nominee (39 percent to 39 percent) if the presidential election were held today, with 15 percent undecided. Three months ago, Bush topped the unnamed Democrat 51 percent to 30 percent (June 2003).

The poll also finds that 50 percent of Americans approve and 40 percent disapprove of the job Bush is doing as president. Early in the president’s term (and prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks), his approval rating stood at 55 percent, which had been his lowest rating before this most recent poll. The president hit his peak job rating to-date, 88 percent approval, following the 9/11 attacks (November 2001).

“The president's job approval has been supported by widespread and bipartisan support of his foreign policy namely the war on terror and the war in Iraq," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "Worries about the economy have been a drag on his ratings virtually from the beginning of the administration. Now with doubt growing about the conduct and cost of foreign policy, there is nothing to support the ratings. Furthermore, the growing partisanship surrounding foreign policy is pushing all the numbers back to the 50/50 split that is an underlying reality in our politics."

In a hypothetical matchup between Bush and the newest candidate on the list of Democratic hopefuls, retired Gen. Wesley Clark (search), Bush comes out on top 46 percent to 37 percent. It should be noted that at this point in the race, Clark might just be representing the “generic Democrat” slot for many voters in the horse race question, as fully 65 percent say they don’t know enough or have never heard of him when in a separate question are asked if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the candidate.

With 20 percent support, new entrant Clark tops the list as the Democrats’ choice for their party’s nomination. Clark is followed by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (search) (13 percent), Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (search) (10 percent), Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt (search) (nine percent) and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (search) (nine percent). The remaining candidates receive five percent or less.

When asked which Democratic candidate was doing the best job presenting his or her plans for the country and explaining how those plans differ from President Bush’s, voters say Dean is the candidate doing the best at making his case (13 percent), but a plurality says “none” (19 percent) of the candidates are explaining their positions and 35 percent are unsure.

Slim majorities of both men and women think it is unlikely a woman will land on either major party’s 2004 presidential ticket (52 percent unlikely to 43 percent likely). Even so, asked to choose between a Republican ticket of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney (search) and a Democratic ticket of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton (search) and Gen. Clark, the ticket with a woman garners support from almost four in 10 voters (50 percent for Bush-Cheney to 39 percent for Clinton-Clark).

Growing Concerns About Iraq

Despite continuing violence against U.S. troops in Iraq, most Americans still support having taken military action there and over half think troops should stay until the job is done. Even so, the number thinking that going to war was “worth it” has declined significantly in the last few months.

Today, about two-thirds of Americans (64 percent) say they support the United States having taken military action to disarm Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power, including nearly half (47 percent) saying they “strongly support” the action, according to the latest FOX News poll. 

These new numbers, while showing there is still support for the war, also show a considerable drop from earlier in the year. As would be expected, support for action against Iraq was much stronger during the major fighting peaking at 81 percent in early April.

The poll finds that a 54 percent majority thinks U.S. troops should stay in Iraq until the job is done rather than bringing the troops home now (36 percent). The number of Americans who think going to war with Iraq has been worth it dropped from 64 percent in late April to 46 percent today, and opinion of how the situation will ultimately turn out for the United States is decidedly split.

A plurality (44 percent) thinks in the long run the situation with Iraq will turn out well for the United States, while 34 percent think it will turn out badly and nine percent say “mixed.” Either way, a majority of the public, including more than a third of Democrats, disagrees with Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy (search)’s notion that the case for going to war was “a fraud” made up to give Republicans a political boost. 

The topic of Iraq is still a popular one at the water cooler, but the other slightly more popular topic people say they are discussing with friends and neighbors right now is the economy. Many Americans continue to rate the condition of the nation’s economy negatively, with less than one in five saying it is in excellent or good shape. In addition, less than half rate their personal financial situation positively, and less than a third say the 2003 tax cuts helped the condition of their family’s finances this year.

Polling was conducted by telephone September 23-24, 2003 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points. Results are of registered voters, unless otherwise noted. LV = likely voters

1. Dick Grasso

Favorable Unfavorable Can’t say Never heard
23-24 Sep 03 7% 12 19 62

2. Wesley Clark

Favorable Unfavorable Can’t say Never heard
23-24 Sep 03 24% 11 26 39

2. George W. Bush

Favorable Unfavorable Can’t say Never heard
23-24 Sep 03 53% 40 7 -
12-13 Aug 03 61% 32 7 -
17-18 Jun 03 66% 26 8 -
3-4 Jun 03 67% 27 6 -
11-12 Mar 03 62% 29 9 -
14-15 Jan 03 64% 27 8 1

4. Ted Kennedy

Favorable Unfavorable Can’t say Never heard
23-24 Sep 03 42% 42 13 3

5. Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president?

Approve Disapprove (DK)
23-24 Sep 03 50% 40 10
9-10 Sep 03 58% 33 9
12-13 Aug 03 57% 34 9
29-30 Jul 03 59% 31 10
15-16 Jul 03 59% 32 9
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 60% 27 13

6. Do you approve or disapprove of the job the United Nations is doing?

Approve Disapprove (Not sure)
23-24 Sep 03 31% 52 17
25-26 Feb 03 40% 42 18
30 Apr-1 May 02 42% 33 25

7. In your everyday conversations with friends and neighbors, what topic would you say comes up most often these days? (OPEN ENDED)

23-24
Sep 03
30 Jun-
1 Jul 03
8-9
Apr 03
29-30
Jan 03
Economy 17% 26% 5% 19%
Iraq/Saddam Hussein 14 12 65 42
Politics/Political issues 10 6 2 3
9/11 /Terrorism/
War on Terror
9 7 9 3
Family issues 7 5 3 5
Work/Jobs/Employment 7 5 3 5
Weather 5 3 2 2
Sports 4 4 1 2
Local issues 4 3 1 1
Education/Schools 3 2 1 3
Religion/Bible 2 2 1 1
Current events/World news 2 1 - 1
Taxes 2 2 - 1
Health Care 1 3 - 2
Elderly/Social Security 1 1 - -
Middle East 1 - - -
Drugs/Crime 1 1 - -
TV/Entertainment 1 na na na
Stock market/
Finances/Money
- 1 - 1
Other/Nothing 5 8 1 3
(DK/Ref) 4 6 6 6

8. Do you support or oppose the United States having taken military action to disarm Iraq and remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein? Is that strongly (support/oppose) or only somewhat (support/oppose)?

---- Support ---- ---- Oppose ----  
TOT Strngly Smwht TOT Smwht Strngly (NS)
23-24 Sep 03 64% 47 17 30 12 18 6
22-23 Apr 03 76% 61 15 20 9 11 4
8-9 Apr 03* 81% 68 13 16 6 10 3
25-26 Mar 03 78% 66 12 18 8 10 4

* March 25-26 and April 8-9, 2003, “Do you support or oppose the United States taking military action to disarm . . . ?”

9. All things considered, do you think the United States going to war with Iraq has been worth it or not?

Yes No (Not sure)
23-24 Sep 03 46% 41 13
17-18 Jun 03 53% 31 16
22-23 Apr 03 64% 25 11

10. In the long run, how do you think the situation with Iraq will turn out for the United States? Will the situation turn out well or badly?

1. Turn out well 44%
2. Turn out badly 34
3. (Mixed) 9
4. (Not sure) 13

11. Which of the following statements do you agree with more?

1. American troops should stay
    in Iraq until the job there is done
54%
2. American troops should be brought
    home as quickly as possible
36
3. (Not sure) 10

12. Do you agree or disagree with those who say that the case for going to war against Iraq was a fraud that was made up to give Republicans a political boost?

1. Agree 31%
2. Disagree 60
3. (Not sure) 9

13. Are you more likely to support a presidential candidate who has: (ROTATE)

1. A lot of military experience, but little
    or no experience on domestic issues
24%
    or a candidate who has…  
2. A lot of experience on domestic issues,
    but little or no experience in the military
39
3. (Depends) 20
4. (Not sure) 17

14. If the 2004 presidential election were held today, do you think you would be more likely to vote (to re-elect President Bush) or (for the Democratic candidate)? (ROTATE)
SCALE: 1. Re-elect Bush 2. Vote for Democrat 3. (Depends on Democrat/too soon to say) 4. (Not sure/Undecided)

Re-elect Bush Vote for Dem (Depends) (NS)
23-24 Sep 03 39% 39 15 7
15-16 Jul 03 42% 31 19 8
17-18 Jun 03 51% 30 11 8
22-23 Apr 03 47% 31 16 6
8-9 Apr 03 51% 26 15 8
25-26 Feb 03 42% 38 10 10
19-20 Nov 02 44% 21 27 8
9-10 Jan 02 49% 21 14 16

15. I'm going to read you a list of names of some possible candidates for the Democratic nomination for president in the next election. If a 2004 Democratic primary for president were held today, which ONE of the following candidates would you most likely vote for? (If not sure: Well, to whom do you lean at this time?) (RANDOMIZE)

                                   Summary Among Democrats (n=364)

Clark 20%
Dean 13
Kerry 10
Gephardt 9
Lieberman 9
Edwards 5
Braun 2
Graham 2
Sharpton 2
Kucinich 1
(Else/Other) 5
(Not sure) 19
(Would not vote) 2

                  • Retired Gen. Wesley Clark

Dem Ind
23-24 Sep 03 20% 16%

                  • Conn. Sen. Joe Lieberman

Dem Ind
23-24 Sep 03 9% 8%
9-10 Sep 03 16 17
12-13 Aug 03 18 15
17-18 Jun 03 15 20
6-7 May 03 19 13
25-26 Feb 03 15 13
14-15 Jan 03 29 28

                  • Mass. Sen. John Kerry

Dem Ind
23-24 Sep 03 10% 8%
9-10 Sep 03 17 11
12-13 Aug 03 13 7
17-18 Jun 03 15 16
6-7 May 03 12 12
25-26 Feb 03 10 10
14-15 Jan 03 13 17

                  • Mo. Rep. Dick Gephardt

Dem Ind
23-24 Sep 03 9% 6%
9-10 Sep 03 6 9
12-13 Aug 03 12 8
17-18 Jun 03 7 10
6-7 May 03 14 7
25-26 Feb 03 16 13
14-15 Jan 03 15 8

                  • N.C. Sen. John Edwards

Dem Ind
23-24 Sep 03 5% 5%
9-10 Sep 03 4 3
12-13 Aug 03 3 3
17-18 Jun 03 5 3
6-7 May 03 5 6
25-26 Feb 03 6 4
14-15 Jan 03 8 8

                  • Former Ill. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun

Dem Ind
23-24 Sep 03 2% 3%
9-10 Sep 03 3 1
12-13 Aug 03 4 2
17-18 Jun 03 3 1
6-7 May 03 2 3
25-26 Feb 03 5 1

                  • Former Vt. Gov. Howard Dean

Dem Ind
23-24 Sep 03 13% 9%
9-10 Sep 03 14 11
12-13 Aug 03 11 7
17-18 Jun 03 4 4
6-7 May 03 5 2
25-26 Feb 03 4 2
14-15 Jan 03 2 2

                  • New York Rev. Al Sharpton

Dem Ind
23-24 Sep 03 3% 3%
9-10 Sep 03 2 2
12-13 Aug 03 5 3
17-18 Jun 03 2 2
6-7 May 03 5 2
25-26 Feb 03 4 3
14-15 Jan 03 5 2

                  • Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich

Dem Ind
23-24 Sep 03 1% 1%
9-10 Sep 03 2 1
12-13 Aug 03 2 -
17-18 Jun 03 2 3
6-7 May 03 1 2
25-26 Feb 03 2 1

                  • Fla. Sen. Bob Graham

Dem Ind
23-24 Sep 03 2% 3%
9-10 Sep 03 3 1
12-13 Aug 03 2 7
17-18 Jun 03 5 4
6-7 May 03 4 5

                  • (Someone else/Other)

Dem Ind
23-24 Sep 03 5% 5%
9-10 Sep 03 7 7
12-13 Aug 03 5 11
17-18 Jun 03 8 9
6-7 May 03 3 12
25-26 Feb 03 5 10
14-15 Jan 03 8 11

                  • (Not sure)

Dem Ind
23-24 Sep 03 19% 25%
9-10 Sep 03 24 31
12-13 Aug 03 22 31
17-18 Jun 03 33 23
6-7 May 03 29 28
25-26 Feb 03 33 43
14-15 Jan 03 20 24

                  • (Would not vote)

Dem Ind
23-24 Sep 03 2% 8%
9-10 Sep 03 2 6
12-13 Aug 03 3 6
17-18 Jun 03 1 5
6-7 May 03 1 8

16. Which one of the Democratic presidential candidates do you think is doing the best job of presenting his or her plans for the country and explaining how those plans differ from President Bush’s? (OPEN ENDED)

(Former Vt. Gov. Howard Dean) 13%
(Retired Gen. Wesley Clark) 9
(Conn. Sen. Joe Lieberman) 8
(Mass. Sen. John Kerry) 5
(Mo. Rep. Dick Gephardt) 4
(N.C. Sen. John Edwards) 3
(New York Rev.  Al Sharpton) 2
(Former Ill. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun) 1
(Fla. Sen. Bob Graham) 1
(Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich) -
(Someone else/Other) -
(All) -
(Several) -
(None) 19
(Not sure) 35

17. If the election for president of the United States were held today, for whom would you vote if the candidates were: (rotate order)(Push for decision)

1. Republican George W. Bush 46%
2. Democrat Wesley Clark 37
3. (Neither) 7
4. (Not sure) 10

18. In the 2004 presidential election, let's say the Republican ticket is President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney versus a Democratic ticket of New York Senator Hillary Clinton for president and retired General Wesley Clark for vice president. If the election were held today, which ticket would you support?

1. Bush-Cheney 50%
2. Clinton-Clark 39
3. (Neither) 5
4. (Not sure) 6

19. In the 2004 presidential election, let's say the Republican ticket is President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney versus a Democratic ticket of retired General Wesley Clark for president and New York Senator Hillary Clinton for vice president. If the election were held today, which ticket would you support?

1. Bush-Cheney 50%
2. Clark-Clinton 40
3. (Neither) 5
4. (Not sure) 5

20. Thinking ahead to this November's elections, if the congressional election were held today, would you vote for the Republican candidate in your district or the Democratic candidate in your district? (If undecided) Well, if you had to vote, which way would you lean?

-- Republican -- -- Democrat --  
Vote Lean Total Vote Lean Total (Other/Not sure)
23-24 Sep 03 RV 32% 4 36 35 6 41 23
22-23 Oct 02 LV 36% 5 41 35 5 40 19

21. How likely do you think it is that a woman will be on one of the presidential tickets in 2004, either as a presidential or a vice presidential candidate?
SCALE: 1. Very likely 2. Somewhat likely 3. Not very likely 4. Not at all likely 5. (Not sure)

Vry Smwht Ntvry Not (Not sure)
23-24 Sep 03 15% 28 31 21 5
13-14 Sep 99 36% 38 16 7 3

22. If a Democratic candidate invites former President Bill Clinton to campaign for him or her, will you be more or less likely to vote for that candidate?
SCALE: 1. More likely 2. Less likely 3. (No difference) 4. (Not sure)

  More Less (No diff) (Not sure)
23-24 Sep 03   30% 46 18 6
Dem 55% 17 22 6
Rep 6% 81 9 4
Ind 24% 45 27 4
16-17 Sep 98   22% 41 33 4

23. According to the United States Constitution, a person must meet certain requirements in order to be eligible to be elected president. One such requirement is that the individual be born in the United States. Would you support or oppose a constitutional amendment that would allow individuals who were born outside the United States, but who have become American citizens and been a U.S. citizen for at least 20 years, to run for the office of president?

1. Support 32%
2. Oppose 60
3. (Not sure) 8

24. On a scale of excellent, good, only fair and poor, how would you rate economic conditions today?
SCALE: 1. Excellent 2. Good 3. Only fair 4. Poor 5. (Not sure)

Exclnt Good Fair Poor (NS)
23-24 Sep 03 1% 17 42 39 1
12-13 Aug 03 1% 15 40 43 1
3-4 Jun 03 1% 19 48 31 1
8-9 Apr 03 1% 20 47 30 2
11-12 Mar 03 1% 13 41 44 1
14-15 Jan 03 1% 12 46 40 1
8-9 Oct 02 LV 5% 20 44 30 1
9-10 Jul 02 1% 23 51 24 1
30 Apr-1 May 02 3% 27 53 16 1
9-10 Jan 02 2% 26 47 22 3
19-20 Sep 01 4% 25 45 24 2
11-12 Jul 01 4% 38 44 13 1
18-19 Apr 01 4% 35 45 14 2
14-15 Mar 01 3% 36 42 18 1
21-22 Feb 01 5% 41 44 9 1
10-11 Jan 01 9% 50 29 10 2
18-19 Oct 00 LV 19% 54 20 6 1

25. How would you rate your personal financial situation – excellent, good, only fair or poor?

Excellent Good Fair Poor (Not sure)
23-24 Sep 03 5% 39 38 16 2
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 9% 48 29 12 2
8-9 Apr 03 9% 46 33 10 2

26. A year from now, do you think your personal financial situation will be better or worse?

Better Worse (Same) (Not sure)
23-24 Sep 03 53% 14 26 7
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 56% 12 27 5
8-9 Apr 03 63% 9 22 6
23-24 Jul 02 57% 19 21 3
22-23 Aug 01 49% 19 24 8

27. Do you think the 2003 tax cuts have helped your family’s finances this year? (If helped, is that a lot or only a little?)

1. Yes, helped a lot 10%
2. Yes, helped a little 20
3. No, didn’t help 61
4. (Not sure) 6
5. (Didn’t receive) 3

28. Do you support or oppose allowing homosexual couples to form civil unions that are not marriages, but would give gay couples rights such as inheritance, insurance and hospital visiting privileges?

1. Support 46%
2. Oppose 44
3. (Not sure) 10