10/16/03: Slim Majority Approves of Bush Job Performance

Just over half of the public approves of the job George W. Bush is doing as president today, up very slightly from the end of last month but still lower than the high ratings to which he had become accustomed during the major fighting in Iraq and after the 9/11 attacks. In addition, slim majorities approve of the job several cabinet members are doing, with Secretary of State Colin Powell's  (search ) rating remaining significantly above the rest.

In this week's FOX News national poll, President Bush's job rating stands at 52 percent approve and 37 disapprove. Striking differences are seen between the ratings the president receives from his own political party (85 percent of Republicans approve) and Democrats (26 percent approve), though he receives similar ratings among men (53 percent approve) and women (51 percent approve).

Whites are much more likely than non-whites to approve of Bush's job performance (55 percent and 38 percent respectively). And young people under age 35 are at least 20 percentage points more likely to approve of the president's job than those over age 60.

Opinion Dynamics Corporation (search ) conducted the poll of registered voters on October 14-15, soon after the president began a public relations campaign on Iraq that included giving several regional press interviews.

"It appears that the president has stopped the fall in his ratings that was apparent last month," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "However, whether ratings rise will depend on both the economy and the Iraq situation over the next several months. No amount of spinning can compensate for bad news — and counter-spinning by the Democrats won't hurt good news."

Bush received the highest rating of his term thus far (88 percent approval) in the months following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and his lowest rating came just three weeks ago when approval dipped to 50 percent.

Even though Secretary of State Powell's job rating is down from earlier in the year, he receives the highest approval rating of all members of the Bush administration tested on this survey. Here's how some of the administration's officials are rated currently:

Many Americans rate President Bush's leadership skills positively, although these numbers are down from the beginning of the year. Today, 22 percent rate Bush's leadership as "excellent" and 35 percent say "good." In January, 33 percent rated his leadership skills as "excellent" and 36 percent "good." Currently, Bush's leadership is seen as "only fair" by 22 percent and "poor" by 20 percent.

A 64 percent majority believes President Bush is honest and trustworthy, including fully 90 percent of Republicans, 40 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independents.

Polling was conducted by telephone October 14-15, 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.

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

2. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Dick Cheney is doing as vice president?

3. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Rumsfeld is doing as secretary of defense?

4. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Colin Powell is doing as secretary of state?

5. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Condoleezza Rice is doing as national security advisor?

6. Do you approve or disapprove of the job John Ashcroft is doing as attorney general?

7. How would you rate President Bush's leadership skills?
SCALE: 1. Excellent 2. Good 3. Only fair 4. Poor 5. (Not sure)

8. In general, do you think President Bush is honest and trustworthy?