Bush Approval Rating at 39 Percent

Already at the lowest point of his presidency before Hurricane Katrina, President Bush’s approval numbers have plummeted to under 40 in the latest AP poll.

President’s Approval Rating Dips Below 40 (AP)

President Bush’s job approval has dipped below 40 percent for the first time in the AP-Ipsos poll, reflecting widespread doubts about his handling of gasoline prices and the response to Hurricane Katrina. Nearly four years after Bush’s job approval soared into the 80s after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Bush was at 39 percent job approval in an AP-Ipsos poll taken this week. That’s the lowest since the the poll was started in December 2003.

The public’s view of the nation’s direction has grown increasingly negative as well, with nearly two-thirds now saying the country is heading down the wrong track.


With gasoline racing past $3 a gallon, Bush’s standing on dealing with those prices may be one of his biggest problems — seven in 10 said they disapprove. And just over half in the poll, 52 percent, said they disapprove of the president’s handling of the hurricane.


The number of people who think the country is on the wrong track grew from 59 percent last month to 65 percent this month. Tumbling consumer confidence after Hurricane Katrina may be contributing to that sense of pessimism.

The amusing thing about this report is that it consists of a bit of data from the poll–extracted above–and several paragraphs of comments from people interviewed for the story (all redacted in the sections marked […]). Polls are aggregate measures, not individual anecdotes. The complaints and observations of three random people are unlikely to be particularly representative. If they were, we could certainly save a lot of money doing scientific polling.

Bush’s numbers will rebound considerably in the coming weeks, although it remains to be seen whether he’ll ever become truly popular again. He’s got a lot of work ahead to undo the perception that his team has been inept at handling the Katrina crisis, which naturally and properly leads people to question how well they’d handle a terrorist attack.

Still, Katrina will be out of the news everywhere but the Gulf Coast region soon. Ultimately, tens of billions of dollars in reconstruction money will be spent and the economy will recover. Gas prices will moderate and the public will get accustomed to permanently higher ones, which was becoming a reality even before Katrina damaged our refinery capacity.

Absent some breaking event, the president’s next big chance to impact public opinion will be in his choice to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court. John Roberts, his initial choice before he was chosen to succeed Chief Justice William Rehnquist instead, was a good one from the public’s perspective. Bush will need to find someone at least that solid the second go-round.

Then, as for the last three years or so, the focus will return to Iraq. Given how low the poll numbers are on that issue, the upside is huge. If the new constitution is ratified, a second set of democratic elections are held, civil war is averted, and our troop presence gets progressively smaller, the president’s numbers will go up tremendously. Otherwise, the war will likely be seen as a failure and his administration along with it.

Update: Commenter Ron wonders whether the AP-Ipsos poll is an outlier. RealClear Politics tracks current polls numbers from a variety of sources. It turns out that AP-Ipsos on the low end of a general trend:

Photo:  RealClearPolitics Poll Averages

Still, if you click through the link, we see that, aside from the Fox News poll and an occasional outlier, President Bush’s approval ratings have been in the red for months.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Ron says:

    The Rasmussen tracking poll has him at 46%, they are now tracking all people instead of likely voters, they estimate that number would be 2-3% higher among likely voters. His approval at re-election was 52% of likely voters.

    Since their methodology is consistent, their numbers may be off but they should be consistently off.

    Also, due to the 3 day averaging the full effects of Katrina’s impact may not be represented.

  2. DL says:

    I wonder what Christ’s approval rating was when they Crucified Him?

  3. AP-Ispos is always an outlier. Or should I say out- liar.

    the poll cosistantly tracks 5-10 points left on a consistant basis.

  4. Sgt Fluffy says:

    Nice to have a President that doesnt live by the polls

  5. Gosh, I guess this means that a lot of people won’t vote for him in the next Presidential election!

  6. Craig says:

    Bush is completely incompetent. The Katina debacle was nothing less than the biggest failure of the federal government in modern times.

  7. Benjamin says:

    Maybe Bush really doesn’t have it in him to lead a nation…maybe he doesn’t have it in him to aid in a disaster…maybe he just isn’t lucky…in any case, THIS is the reason i voted against him in both elections…if the federal government ever did what we pay them to, we ALL may very well be millionaires by now…

    To DL, Christ was told by God that he was gonna be crusified…God didn’t tell Bushie boy to sit on his thumb and stay on vacation, that everyone in LA would be fine…

    And to Director Mitch, luckily no one will be able to vote for him in the next election seeing how he can’t run for a 3rd term…

    Finally, if any of us had any brains at all, we would not have elected this brainfart twice…tho i fought against it, i mustn’t deny that i didn’t fight hard enough…anyone who still thinks this guy is doing a great job is either filthy rich, totally clueless, or heavily sedated…get this person out of our country’s spotlight and into the dungeon where he belongs…

  8. Herb says:

    Wow Benjamin, what bitterness you have, could it be that you are “just one more of the sore losers” And, by the way, what have you done for the good of the country late, except complain about Bush.

    If one thing is going to defeat the Republicans, It’s going to be energy price. Gasoline prices, heating oil prices, ant the price of natural gas will affect all Americans and cut deep into their pockets. I learned a long time ago that you can mess with just about anything, but when you cut into their pockets, they draw the line. The Democrats are no better than the Republicans on the energy issue, but, I think that right now, the Dems have the upper hand on the energy issue.

    Bush is going to have to “take the bull by the horns” so to speak and dissolve a lot of the environmental regulations that are impeeding energy production. if he is to survive this crisis. If he does, then he will be the “American Hero”

    Secondly, Bush is going to have to put the skids to the bureaucrats and their bureaucratic nonsense that they have put into the regulations designed solely to protect their “wards of the state” jobs.

  9. anjin-san says:

    Guess no on told Herb that one of the reasons NO was hit so hard is that the wetlands which form a natural barrier against storm surges have been dissapearing because of “progress” for the last 75 years.

    But what do I know? I am just another wacko who thinks leaving a planet in decent condition for our grandkids is more important than driving monster SUV’s and having families of four living in 4500 sq foot houses.

  10. Herb says:


    What in the world are you talking about ?

    Have you ever lived in Louisiana?

    Have you ever seen bayou country?

    And, what in the world does monster SUV’s and 4500 sq. ft. homes have to do with hurricane results

  11. anjin-san says:


    Guess you are right. God created this beautiful planet (including wetlands) only so that man could destroy it in search of creature comforts. Go to Wal-Mart & do some shopping Herb, all is well.

  12. anjin-san says:

    If anyone is interested in the link between Gulf Coast wetlands depletion and Katrina destruction go to:


  13. Herb says:

    You know Anjin-San, you environ(mental) wackos are all alike. Perhaps you need to go outside and save a stink bug or tie yourself to a tree. With your reference to that wacko website is an indication of your ability to believe anything that comes from your computer. Perhaps you should subscribe to Daily Kos or some other lefty loony organization. You talk just like them

  14. anjin-san says:

    Tell me Herb, do you believe in God? If so why do you have so little respect for his creations? Did it ever occur to you that God put stink-bugs here for a reason? Perhaps one beyond your little comprehension? Same goes for wetlands…

  15. Herb says:

    You know Anjin-San, you really make my day, you get excited so darned easy. When I saw your name on a comment, I thought I would have a little fun for the day. You did not disappoint me, I have laughed every time you made a comment.
    Gods, you are easy to get excited.

    Hope you got as big a kick out of it as I did

    Have a great day and tomorrow.

  16. jeremiah says:

    George W. Bush is the worst excuse for a president this country has ever had. He is totally incompetent at leading this country.
    Look at the record budget deficit, look at what gasoline costs and look at the bumbling fiasco in Iraq. Now Katrina!
    If he had any dignity or real concern for the American people, he should step down and let someone else lead. And to make matters worse, I voted for him.

  17. anjin-san says:

    Herb I can only hope your life is not as empty as it sounds…

  18. Herb says:

    Gosh Anjin San. you hold such bitterness that you are hilarious.

    You sure do get excited. Better get a nitro patch on before its to late.

    You really need to be under a doctors care.

  19. Andrew says:

    Well herb, you’ve proved to me that you are an idiot. and all it took was reading a few posts.. instead of actualy arguing back you just name call…and try to charater assasinate… classy…

    Now look, I’ve gone and responded to your name calling by calling you a name.. look what you made me do! also, You seemed to have gotten pretty “excited” yourself…Maybe a nitro patch would help Anjin, as you have proposed.. Unfortunately though for you, medcial science is yet to perfect a drug that could fix the problem you’ve got going on… But maybe, in time, something could be devoloped through stem cell research? OH WAIT! Too bad for you I guess…

  20. Ryan Lepore says:


    You can hell Bush to go to Hell!!! Because he deserves those very low approval ratings!!!! He’s a liar, a cheater, a thief, and a murderer!!!!

  21. Ryan Lepore says:


    You can tell Bush to go to Hell!!! Because he deserves those very low approval ratings!!!! He’s a liar, a cheater, a thief, and a murderer!!!!

  22. Jus Watchin The AC... says:

    I used to think that W was just slightly retarded. Now it’s clear that the tangled web he wove to get elected has simply forced him to make murderous decisions. OR, one might ask, has he made them of his own free will?

    Somebody compared him to Christ earlier in this string. Whooa! Dubya’s mentor must be very, VERY pleased to see comments like that. Who IS his mentor, you ask? Let’s just say, you should leave the light on after you tuck yourself in and start reading Revelations tonight.

    And remember – the primary definition of the word ‘revelation’ is “AN ENLIGHTENING OR ASTONISHING DISCLOSURE”!