FOX News Poll: Bush Approval Up; Nearly Half of Americans Think Surge Helped in Iraq

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The latest FOX News poll shows that while President Bush’s job rating remains low and a majority of Americans disapproves of his performance, his approval rating is up this week to its highest level in five months. Today 37 percent of Americans say they approve of the job Bush is doing, up from 33 percent last month, and 58 percent disapprove.

In addition, approval of Congress also increased: 32 percent of Americans approve, up from 24 percent in August, and 56 percent disapprove.

As Americans traditionally begin to focus more on political and public policy issues after the Labor Day holiday, several factors could contribute to this up-tick in approval. First and foremost it could simply be that more Americans like what they see and are giving leaders in Washington a thumbs up. In addition, the poll was conducted during a week that saw many events that could have created a patriotic "rally effect."

Click here to view full results of the poll (pdf).

Pollster Ernest Paicopolos, principal of Opinion Dynamics Corporation, explains that "a "confluence of factors" may have improved ratings for Bush and Congress, noting the September 11 observances, the Congressional testimony of General David Petraeus, and two video releases from Usama Bin Laden all happened while the survey was conducted.

Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from Sept. 11 to Sept. 12. The poll has a 3-point error margin.

The president’s approval rating among Republicans climbed back into the seventies for the first time since May by increasing 11 percentage points this month to 74 percent, up from 63 percent in August and 67 percent in July.

Situation in Iraq

Earlier this week General David Petraeus gave his much-anticipated report to Congress on progress of the U.S. troop surge in Iraq. Over a third of Americans (35 percent) think his report was "truthful and objective" and 40 percent think it was "slanted toward the administration." Twenty-five percent were unable to give an opinion on the Petraeus report.

The poll finds that nearly half of Americans agree with Petraeus that some progress is being made under the surge: 49 percent think the increase in troops has led to improvements in Iraq (17 percent "major" improvements and 32 percent "minor"), while 45 percent say the surge has not made much of a difference.

Looking ahead to next steps, Americans generally think the United States should withdraw troops from Iraq. Some 22 percent think the U.S. should pull out all troops immediately, up from 12 percent in January, and 42 percent say we should pull out troops gradually over the next year.

There’s less appetite today than there was at the beginning of the year for troops to stay longer term. Nearly 1 in 4 (24 percent) think the troops should stay until Iraqi troops are capable of taking over, down from 34 percent (30-31 January 2007).

Republicans (28 percent) are three times as likely as Democrats (9 percent) to think the troop surge has led to "major" improvements in Iraq, and Democrats (32 percent) are three times as likely as Republicans (10 percent) to think the U.S. should pull out all troops immediately.