NEW YORK – President George W. Bush's approval rating recovered a few points in the week's FOX News poll, though slightly more Americans still disapprove than approve of his job performance. On the issue of pre-Iraq war intelligence, roughly equal numbers of Americans think the president shared the best information available as think he intentionally misled the country.
Today, 42 percent of Americans approve and 48 percent disapprove of the job President Bush is doing. Bush regained 6 percentage points from his standing earlier this month of 36 percent approval — the lowest approval of his presidency (November 8-9).
Much of this week's improvement can be attributed to increases in approval among Republicans (+ 6 percentage points), men (+ 8 points) and independents (+10 points).
"Some of the improvement may also be due to President Bush’s Wednesday speech on Iraq," comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman. "Interviews finished before the speech show a 40 percent approval rate, while those done after the speech show 43 percent approval. If any of this is due to the speech it may very well be temporary."
The long-standing polarization between the parties continues, as there are almost as many Republicans that approve of the job Bush is doing (78 percent), as there are Democrats that disapprove (80 percent). Among independents, 36 percent approve and 49 percent disapprove.
Overall, the public is sharply divided on whether before going to war President Bush knowingly gave the wrong impression about Iraq's weapons capabilities: 46 percent think the president gave Americans the best prewar intelligence available and 44 percent think he intentionally misled the country about the presence of weapons of mass destruction.
Here again, there are predictable partisan differences: 79 percent of Republicans think Bush gave Americans the best available prewar intelligence, while 72 percent of Democrats think he misled the country. Independents split, as 45 percent think Bush misled Americans and 43 percent disagree.
In addition, some Americans think there are still weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. A 42 percent plurality thinks Iraq had weapons before the war and moved or destroyed them, while 28 percent think there were no WMD at all. Almost one in five (19 percent) think there are still WMD in Iraq.
The current results are almost unchanged from opinions about a year and a half ago. At that time, 44 percent said the weapons were moved or destroyed, 28 percent said Iraq did not have any such weapons and 22 percent thought the weapons were still there (April 2004).
Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News on November 29-30.
In a speech to the Naval Academy this week, President Bush said the United States will "stay as long as necessary" in Iraq, and a recent FOX News poll found that a majority of Americans (55 percent) want U.S. troops to stay in Iraq and finish the job (Nov 8-9).
Even so, the new poll finds that by 47 percent to 41 percent, more Americans think there should be a publicly announced timetable for withdrawing troops than disagree.
By a 20 percentage point margin Americans disagree with Sen. John McCain's, R-Ariz., recent suggestion that more troops are needed to achieve success in Iraq, and more people think having U.S. troops in Iraq encourages (44 percent) rather than discourages (31 percent) terrorist attacks by the insurgents.
What would have happened if the United States had stayed out? Just over half of Americans (52 percent) think the world would be worse off and a 59 percent majority thinks Iraq would be worse off, if the U.S. military had not taken action.