|Presidential Approval Ratings|
Mainstream media rarely provide context for the poll results of the day. We're doing just that for approval ratings for President Bush using trend data from the Washington Post. Approval ratings for the economy and the war in Iraq have dropped below 50 percent and have stayed there. For the first time in his Presidency, Bush's overall approval rating is negative by a margin greater than the margin-of-error.
The same questions were asked over a period from 25 February 2001 to 28 August 2005. The same methodology was used to select and question a representative sample of randomly selected adults (not all are self-described registered voters). The margin of error is +/- 3 points.
A poll of actual voters or polls with different questions might yield different results. Polling data from actual voters are often used to forecast election results, operating under the premise that post voters are likely to vote in subsequent elections.
Data from this poll tend to be more conservative than many others. For example, also in August, American Research Group data (random sample of adults, +/- 2.6 points) indicated that only 36 percent approve of how Bush is handling his job as president and only 33 percent approve of how he's handling the economy.
Presidential Approval RatingsOverall Approval is Down
What has been surprising about the data is that in general, for some time Americans have disapproved of the President's handling of the war in Iraq and with his handling of the economy (difference in approval and disapproval is greater than the margin of error) ... and yet until now they have been equally split, statistically, as to his overall handling of the job of the Presidency.
On 28 August, only 45 percent of those polled approved of how President Bush is handling the White House and 53 percent disapproved; this a stastically significant difference and the lowest approval rating. In comparison, at the end of his term, President George H. W. Bush had an approval rating of 56 percent and President Johnson, 49 percent.
Approval on Iraq Remains Down
Public opinion on the President's handling of the war in Iraq has trended steadily downward, dropping sharply between April 30, 2003 and July 10, 2003. There was a spike in approval ratings when Saddam Hussain was captured in December. But, since February of 2004, more people have disapproved than approved of the war (3-2 margin).
On 28 August, only 42 percent of those polled approved of how President Bush is handling the war in Iraq and 57 percent disapproved. What's notable is not that most people disapprove, but than more people haven't become disillusioned with progress in Iraq.
Approval on Economy Remains Down
Two days before planes crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Americans were tied -- 48 percent to 48 percent -- on the President's handling of the economy. The next Washington Post poll to ask "Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bush is handling the economy?" saw a phenomenal spike in approval ratings, to 72 percent. However, the trend since that time has been downward.
On 28 August, slightly more people approved of how the President is handling the economy than in June, but the difference was within the margin of error. Analysts hypothesize that continued pressure on gasolinen prices translate to poor ratings on the economy.
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All Data Washington Post Polls - Trends