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Bush Approval Rating Down to 60% Among Republicans

Bush Approval Rating Down to 60% Among Republicans

PRINCETON, NJ -- At a time when George W. Bush's job approval rating has fallen to 28%, just 6 in 10 Republicans approve of the job he is doing, the lowest of his administration.

Bush has had a 28% overall job approval rating in each of the last three Gallup Polls, the worst of his administration, and the worst for any president since Jimmy Carter's 28% approval rating in 1979. In the most recent poll, conducted May 1-3, Bush's approval rating among his own party's supporters has dropped to 60%.

Throughout his presidency, Bush has averaged 85% approval among Republicans, including a robust 92% his first term and 77% thus far in his second term. So the current figures among the GOP faithful represent a significant departure from the norm for the Bush presidency.

Lower support among Republicans is the primary mover behind the erosion in Bush's overall job approval rating in recent weeks. His approval ratings among Democrats and independents are already at low levels, and do not seem to be deteriorating much further.

While discouraging for Bush, his 60% approval rating among his natural political base is similar to the low points for several recent presidents, including Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Gerald Ford. Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy never had very low overall approval ratings, so even their lowest ratings among their own party were still quite high (above 70%). While Ronald Reagan's job approval rating among all Americans did fall as low as 35% overall, Republicans' approval of him never fell below 67%.

Carter is the president with the dubious distinction of having the lowest job approval rating from his own party since 1953, when Gallup began to compile presidential approval ratings by party affiliation.[1] Only 34% of Democrats approved of Carter in a pair of 1979 Gallup Polls. Carter's overall ratings at that time were similar to Bush's current overall ratings, but his ratings were not nearly as polarized along party lines as Bush's are: He did much better among Republicans than Bush is doing now among Democrats, while doing slightly better among independents than Bush is currently doing.

Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon also had troubled presidencies and are the only other presidents whose approval among their party's supporters fell below 50%.


George W. Bush's overall job approval rating had been running about 33% for quite a while, but has now fallen below 30% as some Republicans have stopped backing him. The most likely explanation for this loss in support could be rising gas prices, which historically have proven to act as a lead weight on presidential approval ratings.

Bush's job approval rating remains six percentage points above Harry Truman's all-time low, and if it falls below that, it will most likely do so as a result of further losses in support from his GOP base.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,019 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted May 1-3, 2008. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 287 Republicans, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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[1] Harry Truman has some of the lowest historical approval ratings, including 22% and 23% in late 1951 and early 1952. In those polls, his approval ratings among Democrats ranged between 42% and 44%. But Gallup did not compile approval ratings by party until the Eisenhower administration.

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