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Bush Approval Rating Doldrums Continue

PRINCETON, NJ -- George W. Bush averaged just 29.4% job approval for his 31st quarter in office, spanning July 20-Oct. 19. Despite the generally downward trend in Bush's ratings over the last eight years, his rating for the current quarter is slightly better than his 29.0% average rating in the prior quarter.


The most recent quarter included two Bush approval ratings of 25% -- the worst of his presidency to date, and just three percentage points higher than the all-time low 22% approval rating Harry Truman received in February 1952.

Even though this most recent quarter included Bush's personal low individual approval ratings, he had been doing slightly better earlier in the quarter, averaging above 30% until the financial crisis dragged his ratings down beginning in mid-September. As a result, his 31st quarter average was slightly better than his 30th quarter average of 29.0% because his ratings in the prior quarter consistently fell below 30%.


In any case, Bush's latest quarterly average is among the worst Gallup has measured for any president since 1945. For the 252 presidential quarters for which Gallup has data, only 9 are worse than Bush's most recent.


It looks like Bush will exit office in a manner similar to that of Harry Truman -- each suffering from a long string of low approval ratings after registering some of the highest approval ratings early in his presidency. Truman averaged 32% approval in his 31st quarter in office, and, like Bush, was below 50% for most of his second term as president.

Three other two-term presidents -- Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton -- were rated much more positively at this point in their presidencies.


After a stellar 62% average for his first term in office, Bush has averaged just 37% so far in his second term. As a result, his average for his entire presidency now stands at 50%.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with random samples of approximately 1,000 national adults each, aged 18 and older, conducted July 20-Oct. 19, 2008. For each sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 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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