NEW YORK – Since August, President George W. Bush (search) has suffered from negative approval ratings, and the latest FOX News poll finds that is still the case today as more Americans disapprove than approve of the job he is doing.
In this week’s FOX News poll, 41 percent of Americans approve and 51 percent disapprove of Bush’s job performance. Moreover, when given the opportunity for a 2004 presidential vote “do over,” Bush receives less support now than he did on Election Day.
Of those that say they voted for Bush in the election, 86 percent say they would still vote for him today and 6 percent would switch their vote to Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry (search).
Bush’s job approval hit a record low of 40 percent in mid-October, when for the first time during his presidency approval among Republicans fell below 80 percent. Today, 79 percent of Republicans approve and 12 percent disapprove. The numbers are reversed among Democrats: 11 percent approve and 84 percent disapprove. For independents, 36 approve and 52 percent disapprove.
There essentially is no gender gap on Bush’s job rating, as 42 percent of men and 39 percent of women approve.
During Bush’s first term in office, his job approval rating went as high as 88 percent in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks (November 2001) and as low as 44 percent in the days following the 2004 Democratic National Convention and nomination of Democratic presidential challenger Kerry. The president’s average approval rating for his first term was 61 percent.
“The extreme polarization in the country probably sets a limit on how low Bush’s rating can fall,” comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman. “While Republicans could easily disapprove of Nixon and Democrats had no problem turning on Jimmy Carter, today’s strong partisan sentiments mean that Republicans are very committed to standing behind their president.”
Does Indictment Really Mean Guilty?
With possible indictments in the CIA leak investigation in the news, the poll asked how indictments are interpreted — does being indicted mean the person is guilty? By a slim 43 percent plurality Americans say yes, when they hear someone has been indicted that usually makes them think the person broke the law. Almost as many disagree (39 percent), and 12 percent say it “depends.”
More voters think the CIA leak investigation is a serious criminal investigation (47 percent) rather than just politics as usual (39 percent).
Separate from the job rating, the poll asked Americans how they feel about Bush as a person. Bush’s current favorable rating is 45 percent, down a touch from 47 percent in August and from 53 percent at the beginning of the year.
First lady Laura Bush continues to shine in the eyes of many Americans: 66 percent have a favorable opinion of her and 18 percent unfavorable. Mrs. Bush’s rating tops that of her predecessor: Nearly half of Americans (49 percent) have a favorable view of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and 41 percent unfavorable.
Looking at some other names in the news, overall views of Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and White House adviser Karl Rove (search) are negative, although each also has low name recognition with the public. Over half of Americans were unable to give an opinion on Reid and Rove.
“It is interesting to note that while the media and official Washington are consumed with debate over Karl Rove, half the people have no knowledge of the man,” notes Gorman.
Opinions on the two major political parties are divided. Slightly more people have a favorable than an unfavorable view of the Democratic Party (46 percent and 37 percent). For the Republican Party, opinions split evenly (42 percent favorable and 43 percent unfavorable). Views of the Democratic Party have held steady since earlier in the year, while the number having a favorable opinion of the Republican Party has dropped 6 percentage points (March 2005).
Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News on October 25-26.
Next month President Bush and the first lady will host a White House dinner for Prince Charles and his new wife Camilla Parker Bowles. The poll asked — where would you rather sit at the dinner? Nearly half of Americans (48 percent) pick U.S. “royalty” and say they would rather sit with President and Mrs. Bush, while a third (34 percent) would sit with Prince Charles and Camilla. One in seven (15 percent) would rather stay home.
• PDF: Click here for full poll results.