Two new polls show Americans give President Bush poor marks for his handling of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, with one survey...
Two new polls show Americans give President Bush poor marks for his handling of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, with one survey showing that Bush is now losing support even among his Republican base.
Both polls contain additional bad news for Bush. A poll by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press gives him an overall job approval rating of 40 percent, down 10 percent since January, and a disapproval rating of 52 percent, among the highest of his presidency.
Bush’s job approval rating was 41 percent in a Zogby America poll, the lowest in that poll’s history, and 53 percent of those questioned said the nation is headed in the “wrong direction.”
The surveys were conducted in the week after the hurricane’s assault on the Gulf Coast and show that support for the president, at near-
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record lows before the storm, fell further amid anger over the federal government’s response.
“Americans are depressed, angry and very worried about the economic consequences of the disaster,” Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew poll, told Reuters.
“Uncharacteristically, the president’s ratings have slipped most among his core constituents — Republicans and conservatives,” Kohut wrote in an e-mail.
In the Pew survey, 67 percent of 1,000 adults interviewed by telephone Tuesday and Wednesday said Bush could have done more to speed up relief efforts; 28 percent said he did everything possible.
Hurricane Katrina produced a “major shift in public priorities,” according to Pew. For the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a majority of Americans now believe it is more important for the president to focus on domestic issues than the war on terrorism.
When asked what should be a priority for the president, 56 percent said “domestic policy,” an increase of 16 percentage points since January. Twenty-five percent said Bush’s top priority should be fighting terrorism, a 19-point decline from January.
The Pew survey shows Bush’s support among Republicans is strong but slipping, and since his support among Democrats and self-described independents remains consistent, Bush’s declining approval is linked directly to that slippage within his own party.
The new poll shows Bush with a job approval rating of 79 percent among Republicans, down nine percentage points since Pew’s July survey. Among Democrats, his approval was 19 percent, compared with 18 percent in July, and among independents it was 33 percent versus 32 percent, changes that in both cases are within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Bush’s overall job approval rating in July was 44 percent.
In the Zogby survey, Bush’s overall job approval rating slumped to a record low as three-fifths of those questioned criticized the government’s hurricane response.
Forty-one percent of respondents in the telephone survey Tuesday and Wednesday gave Bush positive marks for his job performance, down from 45 percent in a July 30 survey and 50 percent in mid-February. Bush got negative marks from 59 percent of respondents, up from 55 percent in July and 50 percent in February in the poll.
The poll showed 60 percent characterized Bush’s handling of the hurricane as “fair” to “poor,” while 36 percent graded his performance “good” to “excellent.” More than half of those polled — 53 percent — said the country is headed in the wrong direction.
The survey of 1,157 likely voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.