Bush’s Approval Lowest Yet, Congress Even Lower

President Bush’s job approval has hit a new low, dropping to 35% in the latest CBS News poll.

Bush’s Job Approval Hits New Low (CBS)

Photo PRESIDENT BUSH'S JOB APPROVAL CBS November 2, 2005 Approve 35% Disapprove 57% Tempers cooled a bit in Washington today after the partisan meltdown that brought Senate business to a halt Tuesday. Even so, neither Congress nor the White House will find much in a new CBS News poll to put them in a better humor. President Bush’s job approval has reached the lowest level yet. Only 35 percent approve of the job he’s doing.

Congress is rated even lower. Only 34 percent approve of its work. Vice President Cheney has never been as popular as the president, but his favorable rating is down nine points this year to just 19 percent.

More results of the poll, which focused mostly on the CIA leak investigation, are here.

While historical comparison is somewhat problematic given that the political climate has changed dramatically in the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate, post-CNN era, these numbers are horribly low. Indeed, only Richard Nixon had lower poll numbers, dropping to 24% at his nadir.

The lowest approval ratings recorded by the CBS poll for recent presidentsHere are the low points for other recent presidents during second term scandals:

    Bush: 35%, Disapprove 57% (10/2005)

    Clinton: Approve 58%, Disapprove 29% (1/1998)

    Reagan: Approve 46%, Disapprove 45% (11/1986)

    Nixon (Gallup): Approve 24%, Disapprove 66% (8/1974)

It should be noted, too, that the Republican base is significantly larger now than in 1974. This would seem to indicate that President Bush is down to his core supporters.

Correction (1025): As my former colleague Don Baker notes in the comments, the numbers above do not represent the low points for those presidents, period. He notes that he recalls Clinton falling to the low 30s during his first term.

I took the numbers above from the section BUSH VS. OTHER PRESIDENTS: APPROVAL RATINGS DURING SCANDALS at the link above, naturally assuming they represented the low points for those presidents. In fact, that was not the case, strange as it may seem.

William Schneider:

Forty percent means trouble. Look at previous presidents whose popularity fell that far—or lower. A bad economy was most often the reason. Gerald Ford dropped below 40 percent during the stagflation of 1975. He went on to lose the 1976 election. The “malaise” crisis—remember gas lines?—took Jimmy Carter below 40 percent in 1979 and 1980. Carter lost, too. President George H.W. Bush was below 40 for most of 1992, when the economy hit the skids and cut short his presidency.

Did Ronald Reagan ever dip below 40 percent? Yes, briefly in early 1983, when unemployment was at its highest level since the Great Depression. Republicans had just suffered a setback in the 1982 midterm elections. The economy recovered, and so did Reagan. He never dropped to 40 percent again.
It’s not always the economy, stupid. The Watergate scandal brought down Richard Nixon, whose ratings were in the 20s during his final year in office. Bill Clinton’s problem was overreaching. He dropped to 40 percent, briefly, during his first two years in office, when he overreached with his health care plan. That spelled disaster for the Democrats in 1994. But like Reagan, Clinton recovered. During the impeachment process, Clinton’s ratings actually went up, into the 60s.

Wars can also bring presidents down. The Korean War kept Harry Truman’s ratings below 40 percent for three years (1950 to ’52). In fact, Truman got the lowest Gallup Poll ratings of any president on record (since 1940). The Vietnam War pulled Lyndon Johnson down in 1967 and 1968. LBJ was at 36 percent when he announced in March 1968 that he would not seek re-election.

Over the past 65 years, three presidents never dipped as low as 40 percent in the Gallup Poll. One was Franklin Roosevelt in his third and fourth terms (during World War II). Another was Dwight Eisenhower, whose low point of 49 percent approval came in 1960. The third was John F. Kennedy, who was elected with just under 50 percent of the popular vote but as president never dipped below 56 percent approval in the opinion polls.

So, presidents have hit 40 and recovered. But Bush is fighting the twin dragons of an unpopular war and worries over the economy.

Update (11-4, 0754): Here is an interesting graphic:

Photo: Poll results Nixon Bush Clinton

via CarpetBagger report via Kevin Drum via Bill Ardolino

FILED UNDER: Congress, Public Opinion Polls, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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. Paul says:

    Note that the sample in this “poll” is weighted heavily against Republicans. It’s weighted so Republicans are only 23.8%. Check the RealClearPolitics blog for more info.

  2. Bithead says:

    Look, how many examples of media bias are we going to endure before we start questioning the validity of these polls? We’d certainly be more than justified in doing so.

  3. ken says:

    Paul, Bithead,

    Seriously, you might support a president who lies about his reasons to take our nation to war but don’t expect the rest of the country to go along.

    And the 19% who approve of Cheney are the same minority of people who would willingly betray national security secrets for political advantage.

    The country is not completely blind as to what conservatives are really up to.

  4. Don says:

    Those figures for recent presidents are for second terms, right? I’m certain that Clinton’s approval was down in the 30s in the summer of 1993.

  5. whatever says:

    Wow, with these approval numbers he might not win a third term…

  6. Herb says:

    Leave it to Ken to jump on this. Ken will grab at any straw to satisfy his quest to convince everyone that Bush lied.

    Ken: I challange you to submit your evidense to all those here on OTB that “Bush Lied” Either “put up or shut up”. If you have proof that Bush lied, then you have the obligation and responsibility to give your evidense to a Federal Prosecutor and have Bush charged with the appropriate violation(s) of the law.

    Guys like you are sickening, all you do is shoot off your big mouths without any facts to back up your charges.


  7. Bithead says:

    Seriously, you might support a president who lies about his reasons to take our nation to war but don’t expect the rest of the country to go along.

    Ummm.. Ken?

    We’re not.
    We’re supporting Mr. Bush.
    Who was it YOU were talking about?

  8. odograph says:

    If Bush didn’t lie, why did the Republicans use their Congressional power to delay the investigation of the Whitehouse’s role in the “selling” the war?

    It strikes me that we all know Bush lied, and the delayed investigation is tacit admission of that fact.

    Come on, if an investigation would have CLEARED the Whitehouse, they would have done it before the last election, and cleaned the slate for themselves.


  9. Barry says:

    “Wow, with these approval numbers he might not win a third term…”

    Posted by whatever

    Whatever, if in 2008 the Republican presidential candidate runs *from* Bush’s record as opposed to *on* Bush’s record, he’ll be handicapped.

  10. Pug says:

    Those figures for recent presidents are for second terms, right? I’m certain that Clinton’s approval was down in the 30s in the summer of 1993.

    Didn’t exactly bode well for the Democrats either, did it?

  11. Chuckg says:

    The first four investigations *have* cleared Bush.

    The Democrats are stalling the fifth.

    Opinion Journal today

    (Free registration required)

  12. Herb says:


    Where is your evidense that the Reps. delayed the investigation”‘

    Let’s see so we can all share in you knowledge.

    Hope you don’t start citing the crap from the left wing press or think that Kennedy, Schumer Dean or Polisi wouldn’t tell a lie,

    Every lie or piece of garbage the Dems put out aids the terrorists. Do you remember what happened with Vietnan and how the Viet Cong watched the US Media every day and held out until they WON. Remember Hanoi Jane, the hippies, yippies and the flower children march along with the protesters and how many American lives were lost because of their tratorous actions. I remember only to well, were you there?

    If you do have “correct facts” that the Reps. delayed the investigation, Let everyone here see your proof so we can all share your knowledge with you.

  13. Bithead says:

    If Bush didn’t lie, why did the Republicans use their Congressional power to delay the investigation of the Whitehouse’s role in the “selling” the war?

    Actually, they’re not. They’re actualy runnning according to the agreed upon schedule. It’s just thet the Democrats wanted to step up the pace to get their bile out on the airwaves before election day…

    You’ve better lay off the kool-aid, Odo.

  14. Bithead says:

    Look, we’ve just gone through a bout with a couple hurricanes during which the press dove headfirst into fantasies about what was happening in NOLA… all of which they blamed on Bush, and none of which turns out to be true. At every opportunity in the last 6 byears and more, the press has been the left’s house organ, and on every occcasion, the anti-Bush crap the press has been tossing, has proven to be flat out lies… pure fabrications.

    So now they tell us Bush isn’t polling well, with an obviously lopsided polling structure, and we’re actually to take this report at face value?

    Sorry… no sale.

  15. Anderson says:

    Some days, I wish somebody would get Bush on videotape selling classified info to the Chinese, just so I could read Bithead’s explanation of why that was actually okay, and Herb’s explanation of why any Dem who objects to Bush’s crime is a traitor.

    But only some days.

  16. ken says:

    There is a small percentage of people, idiots, who are constitutionally incapable of acknowledging reality. These people call themselves conservatives.

    The rest of us, in tune with reality, know that Bush lied to us about the reasons for his War on Iraq. We know he lied about WMD, he lied about Saddam and OSL, he lied about how much it would cost, he lied about the whole thing.

    It is pathetic to think that people in this country are eager to put scum, like Bush, Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfield, people who destroyed our nations moral authority in the world, above the interests of our country.

  17. odograph says:

    Actually Ken there are rational conservatives, but Sturgeon’s Law sadly applies there, as well as on the more liberal extreme.

  18. odograph says:

    BitHead, you better check the polls, as more people catch up the numbers are tipping. On the question:

    “Do you think the Bush Administration deliberately misled the American public about whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, or not?”

    The numbers are climbing, to now 53% now admitting “Yes, Misled”

    The trend itself is more interesting than that though, as the disinformation machine (including the sliming of critics and the gaming of investigations) goes off the rails:


  19. anjin-san says:

    The people who support Bush are not conservatives. Conservatives believe in fiscal discipline. Bush spends faster then a navy of drunken sailors. Oh well he can always crawl to the Chinese for more cash when the next disaster hits.

  20. yetanotherjohn says:

    Just a thought, but did you notice a little slight of hand at the bottom of the survey. Look at the bottom of the very last page. The took the number of respondants for rep, dem and ind, then weighted them to lower the number of republicans. Since the party identification post 9/11 has become about equal (30% GOP, 31% dem; http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=750) why would the CBS report weigh the response to reduce the number of republicans. They don’t just leave the number unweighted, but wieght it against the republicans. Might that be a sloght clue as to why the numbers were low?

  21. McGehee says:

    YAJ, you can’t expect this crowd of Bush-bashers to notice facts in their haste to do the only thing they know how to do.

  22. Herb says:

    Ken: Now I know why you have never served in the Armed Forces. You could not pass the first requirement. that is, “You must be able to read and understand the English Language”

    Once again Ken: Either prouuce you evidense that Bush lied or keep your big liberal mouth shut.

    Anderson: You to: Produce your proof and evidense that Bush committed a crime.

    And both of you, Quit dodging and side stepping and produce your proof.

  23. ken says:

    No angjin-san, I have to disagree with you on what conservatives stand for.

    Do a review of the last thirty years of conservative government since Ronald Reagan was President. Every single time the conservative republicans gain controll of government they borrow and spend money with reckless abandon.

    Myths may be hard to die, but if you stand squarely in the reality camp you should acknowledge the truth about conservatives.

  24. Anderson says:

    why would the CBS report weigh the response to reduce the number of republicans

    Because Republicans are more likely to answer the phone, maybe? Or to talk to a pollster? Rather than ignoring the phone because we’re committing gay sodomy with a Communist Muslim terrorist?

    Herb: Bush didn’t really sell the Chinese any classified data. That was a hypothetical. Means I made it up to illustrate a point.

  25. anjin-san says:


    You mean like the fact “Brownie” was doing “a heck of a job” on the Katrina disaster when in fact he was writing emails about how he is a “fashion god”, asking “can I quit now? (sounds like Bush & the National Guard) and trying to ensure he was not disturbed during dinner.

    Those facts?

  26. How can people actually be worried about this economy?

  27. Herb says:

    Please notice that Ken and Anderson have once again dodged the chal;lange to either put up or shut up. I have cahllanged both of them to produce the evidense that Bush lied and that Bush committed a crime and both of these dense liberals have dodged the challange.

    Now everyone here on OTB can witness that both of these guys only throw names and and false charges that they can not back up with evidense.

    Typical left wing liberal tactics, but I am confident that everyone here can see through their distortions and falshoods. It sort of proves just who the LIARS really are.

  28. anjin-san says:


    Did Bush lie when he said Brown was doing “a heck of a job” or is he just clueless to what is happening in his own administration?

    Something tells me Herb will duck.

  29. ken says:

    Herb is one of those guys, a conservative, who, when told lies by dear leader, will fight anyone who tells him dear leader is lying. Pathetic really.

    The most recent poll shows us clearly that republican conservatives put their interest for power above the interests of the nation. Lying about WMD, employing torture, disclosing national defense secrets, all these and more are ok with conservatives.

    If you ask me, they are not real Americans.

  30. Herb says:


    You reall know all about “Real Americans. You a person who has let everyone else do their fighting for them, you who has never served a single day of service to our country, you, who makes charges that you can’t back up and you, who is now a “PROVEN LIAR” to everyone here on OT

    Ken you are nothing short of a COWARD who will NOT provide the evidense of the charges you made against Bush.

    And like I said to you before Ken, “Put up of shut up”

    And Anjin San:

    When you really get to know what America is all about and rid youself of your “High and Mighty” attitude along with your bloated ego of being so suporior to everyone here on OTB, then and only than can you question what the truth is or was about Bush. I am begining to think that you are upset with because Bush is cutting off your meal ticket. (you know, the liberal way of life)