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 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 Ã¢€” 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:
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.