Poll: Approval for Bush's Handling of Economy Drops

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While President Bush's overall job performance rating is on a gradual decline, it nonetheless remains lofty — even as approval of how he is managing the economy drops to a slim majority.

A new Fox News poll conducted by the polling firm Opinion Dynamics shows Bush's job approval rating at 69 percent — a rating most presidents would be pleased to receive — even though it represents a four-point drop from a month ago and a 19-point drop from his highest rating. This is the first time the president's numbers have registered below 70 percent since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

When asked to rate the president's job performance in specific areas, the public's approval holds fairly steady for handling terrorism, managing foreign affairs and dealing with Congress, but dips in the area of managing the nation's economy. Today, 55 percent approve of how Bush is managing the economy, down seven points in less than two months, and 37 percent disapprove, up nine points in the same time period.

In addition, Americans are divided on Bush's ability to deal with the recent bout of corporate corruption and accounting scandals. Less than half (46 percent) approve of how the president is dealing with the issue of corporate corruption, while 39 percent disapprove. It can only cloud the issue of Bush's handling of corporate fraud that a majority (59 percent) believes that big business has too much influence on Republicans.

"History teaches us that economic uncertainty among the public can lead to political trouble for presidents — and these data suggest the nettlesome problem of corporate corruption may pose some risk as well," said Ernest Paicopolos, a principal of Opinion Dynamics.

When choosing which poses the greater threat to the United States, about as many Americans see a stock market crash posing an immediate threat (41 percent) as are concerned with the threat of another terrorist attack (39 percent). Fifteen percent think a market crash and an attack are equally threatening to the country.

Something the White House might find reassuring is that the public seems to appreciate the difficulties President Bush has faced thus far in his term. When asked whether Bush or former President Bill Clinton has had the tougher job as president, most Americans say Bush has had the tougher job (77 percent Bush, 13 percent Clinton).

Polling was conducted by telephone July 23-24, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.

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

Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Bush is doing on the following issues?

2. Managing foreign affairs

3. Managing the economy

4. Handling terrorism

* Wording: "responding to the terrorist attacks"

5. Setting energy policy

6. Dealing with Congress

7. Dealing with corporate corruption

8. Based on President Bush's term in office so far, who would you say had the tougher job as president — President Bush or former President Bill Clinton?

9. Do you agree or disagree with those who say Democrats would rather use the economy as an election issue than work to improve the economy?

* Wording: "use the economic downturn"

10. Do you agree or disagree with those who say Republicans are too focused on the war on terrorism and not paying enough attention to the economy?

11. Over the weekend former Vice President Al Gore accused the Bush administration of lying to Americans about economic issues. Do you believe the Bush administration is lying to the country about economic issues or not?

12. Do you think labor unions have too much influence, too little influence, or the right amount of influence on Democrats?

ROTATE NEXT TWO QUESTIONS:

13. Do you think personal injury trial lawyers have too much influence, too little influence, or the right amount of influence on Democrats?

14. Do you think businesses and corporations have too much influence, too little influence, or the right amount of influence on Republicans?

15. Which of the following do you think poses the greatest immediate threat to the United States — another terrorist attack or a stock market crash?