RE: Bush tanks
Sheehan scores higher than Bush
President Bush's Numbers Sink to an All-Time Low
Deaths and Instability in Iraq, Soaring Gas Prices Take Their Toll
By Richard Morin and Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, August 30, 2005; 6:09 PM
Spiraling gas prices and continuing bloodshed in Iraq continue to take their toll on President Bush, whose standing with the public has sunk to an all-time low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The survey found Bush's overall job approval at 45 percent, down seven points since January and the lowest ever recorded in Post-ABC surveys. Fifty-three percent disapprove of the job Bush is doing.
The war has been a drag on Bush's presidency for many months, but his Iraq approval ratings in the new poll were little changed from two months ago, despite widespread violence, a rash of U.S. casualties, anti-war protests outside the president's Texas ranch and a growing debate about reducing U.S. troop levels.
What may have pushed Bush's overall ratings down in the latest poll is pervasive dissatisfaction over soaring gas prices. Two-thirds of those surveyed said gas prices are causing financial hardship to them or their families. Gas prices stand to go even higher in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's rampage through the oil-rich Gulf Coast.
More ominously for the president, six in 10 Americans said there were steps the administration could take to reduce gas prices. Slightly more than a third say the recent run-up has been due to factors beyond the administration's control.
"I supported him last year," said Gina Coleman, 29, a homemaker living in Camden County, N.J. "I wouldn't vote for him again. It's gas prices, the war, just the way he has been handling things. The rise in gas is something that has been happening for a long time, and the prices are getting worse. This makes me feel more negative about him, definitely."
Bush also received negative marks for his handling of immigration, the economy and Social Security, although his ratings on the latter two were not as low as two months ago. A majority of Americans support his handling of the campaign against terrorism.
The poll numbers paint a portrait of national frustration with the direction and leadership of the country, which if not reversed in coming months, is likely to color the environment for next year's midterm elections, putting incumbents in both parties on the defensive.
Dissatisfaction is not limited to the president. Public disapproval of the Republican-controlled Congress is in decline. Fewer than four in 10 Americans -- 37 percent -- approve of the way Congress is doing its job, the lowest rating for lawmakers in nearly eight years.
The survey also provided bad news for Democratic leaders, who are judged as offering Bush only tepid opposition. Slightly more than half of those surveyed expressed dissatisfaction with the failure of congressional Democrats to oppose Bush more aggressively.
Self-identified Democrats were particularly impatient, with more than two in three saying congressional Democrats have not gone far enough to oppose Bush on Iraq or on administration policies in general.
"Somebody needs to speak up," said Michelle Burgess, 41, a home health aide in St. Louis. "Enough is enough. I don't understand why we're over there in Iraq or what he's doing on other issues. There are too many lives being lost."
Independents were similarly dissatisfied with Democratic leaders for failing to challenge the president over the war and other issues, with six in 10 saying Democrats have been too meek in opposing Bush.
Public attitudes toward the war have not changed significantly since the first of the year, the poll found. Slightly more than four in 10 -- 42 percent -- approve of the job Bush is doing handling the situation in Iraq while 57 percent disapprove, unchanged in recent months. Slightly more than half - 53 percent -- say the war was not worth it, while 46 percent say it was, identical to the results of a Post-ABC poll two months ago. By a 51 percent to 38 percent ratio, the public says we're winning the war despite mounting casualties and relentless insurgent attacks.
A 54 percent majority continues to say the United States should keep its military forces in Iraq until civil order is restored there while 44 percent say we should withdraw our forces. Six in 10 oppose announcing a timetable for withdrawal. Only about one in eight -- 13 percent -- say U.S. forces should be withdrawn immediately.
Michael Strickland, 31, a factory worker who lives in Pine Bluff, Ark., said he opposed the war before the United States invaded in March of 2003. " It's just another Vietnam . . . No matter what we do over there, they are going to kills us." His solution: withdraw -- but not immediately. "Don't tell them when we're going to leave. . . . But do it in a reasonable time frame. Six months to a year. Even if we leave, it can't get any worse over there."
These ambivalent feelings about the war and Bush's policies in Iraq are felt even by many Bush's supporters who continue to support the U.S. invasion. "I have really mixed feelings, like probably the whole country has," said Wayne Almlie, 51, a warehouse worker and part-time pastor in Des Moines, who said he approves of Bush's overall performance. "We need to stay the course. I really think we do. The whole region would disintegrate if would pull out. . . . I'd hate to have to be making those decision."
Despite escalating bloodshed, the struggles to approve a draft constitution and the well-covered anti-war protests led by Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, the survey found little evidence that anti-war sentiment has increased during the past two months.
The survey also found that Sheehan, who has been protesting the war outside Bush's ranch near Crawford, Tex., has become the most visible symbol of the anti-war movement. Fully three in four Americans have heard or read about her.
Sheehan met last year with Bush at an event for military families and has been seeking another meeting with him. Slightly more than half of the country -- 52 percent -- say Bush should meet her again while 46 percent said he should not. Fifty-three percent support what she is doing while 42 percent oppose.
The poll found that opposition to the war has deepened among Democrats. Two months ago, two in three Democrats said they strongly disapproved of Bush's handling of Iraq; today that has risen to three in four. Over that same period, the proportion of Democrats who described themselves as "angry" over Bush's Iraq policies has risen from 36 percent to 46 percent.
The poll found that Sheehan's activities may have helped increase support for the war among Bush supporters. While eight in 10 Americans say Sheehan's protest has had no impact on their attitudes toward the war, one in 10 say she has made them more likely to support the conflict -- the same proportion who say she has made them less likely to support the war.
A total of 1,006 randomly selected adults were interviewed by telephone Aug. 25-28. Margin of sampling error for the overall results is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Assistant polling director Claudia Deane
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address