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Bush Job Approval at 37%

Similar to 37% average rating for all of June

by Joseph Carroll

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- A new USA Today/Gallup poll finds 37% of Americans approving of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 59% disapproving. Despite many extraordinary events dominating the news over the past weeks -- including the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon and Bush's high-visibility trip to Europe -- this slight drop from the 40% approval rating measured earlier in the month is not statistically significant and falls within the margin of error between the two surveys. The current 37% rating is similar to his average approval rating of 37% for all of June.

Bush's job approval rating had been showing a slow, gradual improvement from his administration's low point of 31% in early May, but seems to have reached a plateau in the 37% to 40% range since mid-June. Bush's ratings were higher in January and early February, averaging 42%.

The poll also asked Americans to rate the president's performance on five issues facing the nation. Bush fares the best on his handling of terrorism, with 47% saying they approve of the way he is handling this issue. Fewer than 4 in 10 Americans approve of the way Bush is handling the economy (39%), foreign affairs (38%), the situation in the Middle East (37%), or the situation in Iraq, on which Bush scores the lowest, at 35%.

George W. Bush's Issues Approval
July 21-23, 2006

Approve

Disapprove

%

%

Terrorism

47

50

The economy

39

59

Foreign affairs

38

56

The situation in the Middle East

37

56

The situation in Iraq

35

62

With the exception of how Bush is handling the situation in the Middle East, all these issues were last updated in Gallup's June 9-11 survey. Since then, Bush's approval ratings on the economy, foreign affairs, and Iraq have essentially not changed. Americans' approval of how Bush is handling terrorism has declined four points, from 51% in the June poll to 47% in the latest poll.

Bush Issues Approval: June 2006 versus July 2006
Based on percentage who approve of Bush on each issue

June 9-11, 2006

July 21-23,
2006


Change

%

%

The economy

39

39

0

Foreign affairs

39

38

-1

The situation in Iraq

36

35

-1

Terrorism

51

47

-4

Gallup has previously asked Americans to assess how Bush is handling the situation in the Middle East five times between March 2002 and June 2003. In each instance, the president has scored well, with approval ratings ranging between 60% and 72%. Bush's ratings on the Middle East during this period were consistently slightly lower than his overall approval ratings.

The latest update shows that 37% of Americans approve of the way Bush is handling the situation in the Middle East. While this does represent a significant decline in Bush's rating on this issue from three years ago, it mirrors the decline in Bush's overall approval rating over the same period. The Middle East rating may more reflect general attitudes toward Bush than strongly indicate public reaction toward Bush's handling of the current situation between Israel and Hezbollah.

Partisan Ratings of Bush

Bush's job approval ratings continue to be highly polarized along partisan lines. The president's job approval ratings currently stands at 82% among Republicans, 27% among independents, and lower still among Democrats, at 9%. Since the beginning of July, Bush's approval rating dropped the most among independents, from 36% in early July to 27% currently. Republicans' and Democrats' ratings of Bush have not changed much over this period, with Republicans' ratings at 78% in early July and 82% now, and Democrats' ratings at 10% and 9%.

As would be expected, Republicans are significantly more positive about Bush's performance on each of the five issues than are Democrats. At least three in four Republicans rate Bush positively on each issue, while no more than 25% of Democrats approve of Bush on any of the issues. Bush scores the highest approval ratings on his handling of terrorism from both Republicans and Democrats.

Bush Issues Approval by Partisan Groups
July 21-23, 2006
Based on percentage who approve of Bush on each issue

Republicans

Independents

Democrats

%

%

%

Terrorism

82

39

25

Foreign affairs

77

28

15

The situation in Iraq

77

27

8

The economy

75

33

13

The situation in the Middle East

75

29

14

Survey Methods

The latest results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,005 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted July 21-23, 2006. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. 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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