WASHINGTON – Public approval for President Bush and Congress has sunk to the lowest levels ever recorded in The Associated Press-Ipsos poll.
Only 31 percent said they approve of the job Bush is doing, according to the survey released on Thursday. His lowest previous approval in the survey was 32 percent — a virtual tie with the new reading — recorded several times, most recently in June.
Only 69 percent of Republicans voiced approval of Bush, about where he has been in recent months but still an anemic showing for a president within his own party. That included only 29 percent from the GOP who said they strongly approve of the job he is doing.
Underlining the widespread political polarization sparked by the Iraq war and other issues, just 7 percent of Democrats and 19 percent of independents gave positive marks to Bush's work.
With the war dragging on and fears of recession at home, the poll showed public discontent with Bush on issues across the board.
A record low 34 percent said they approved of his handling of the economy, which has been battered by a major credit crunch and a feeble housing market. His prior low in the poll in that area was 37 percent.
Bush also hit a new low with 31 percent approving of his work on domestic issues like health care, just below June's 32 percent. The poll was taken as the president was about to veto a measure adding $35 billion to children's health coverage.
Twenty-nine percent approved of how Bush is handling Iraq, a slight dip from last month's 33 percent and virtually even with the record-low of 27 percent last December. Bush last month approved a plan to gradually reduce the number of troops in Iraq from more than 160,000 to just above the 130,000 who were there when this year's force build up began.
On foreign affairs and terrorism, 36 percent approved, just below September's 40 percent measure and about tied with the 35 percent low point he hit in December.
Congress' job performance was approved by just 22 percent, continuing a steady decline in the public's assessment since Democrats took over in January. Unable to force Bush to wind down the Iraq war, just a quarter of Democrats gave a thumbs-up to Congress' work, compared to a fifth of Republicans and independents.
Congress' lowest approval reading in the poll had been 24 percent, recorded most recently in July.
AP-Ipsos polling began in December 2003.
President Truman's approval ratings of 23 percent in both 1951 and 1952 were the lowest ever recorded by the Gallup Poll. Congress' Gallup Poll low was 18 percent in 1992.
The AP-Ipsos poll was conducted from Oct. 1-3 and involved telephone interviews with 1,005 adults. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.