numbers low as woes mount
WASHINGTON — A new poll suggests U.S. President George W. Bush's public support has eroded to its lowest level yet, with the Iraq war dragging on, a top White House aide facing felony charges and the administration rushing to replace a failed Supreme Court nominee.
Concerned that the president has lost his footing, some Republicans have suggested Bush should shake up his staff. The AP-Ipsos poll found the president's approval rating was at 37 per cent, compared with 39 per cent a month ago. About 59 per cent of those surveyed said they disapproved.
The intensity of disapproval is the strongest to date, with 42 per cent now saying they "strongly disapprove" of how Bush is handling his job - twice as many as the 20 per cent who said they "strongly approve."
"This is the poorest excuse for a president this country has ever had,"
said Max Hollinberger, a businessman from Stanwood, Washington, who leans Democratic.
He cited "the economy, going to war in Iraq for no reason, the way we can get to the tsunami victims before Katrina victims - the whole business."
A year after his re-election, Bush's second term has been marred by rising U.S. casualties in Iraq, a failed attempt to restructure Social Security, hurricane Katrina missteps, rising fuel costs and his forced withdrawal of the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers.
In a case involving the public naming of a covert CIA operative married to an Iraq war critic, U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney's former aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, pleaded innocent Thursday in federal court to charges of obstruction of justice, perjury and lying to investigators. The case casts a continuing cloud over Cheney and keeps Bush's closest adviser, Karl Rove, in legal jeopardy.
Republicans are starting to worry about the 2006 legislative elections and hope Bush can reverse his slide.
Several senior Republicans who are close to the White House and Rove say there has been a lot of talk inside and outside the White House about the need for him to leave, but they were picking up no indication from him or his associates that it will happen - at least anytime soon.
Neither Bush nor Rove has seemed to get the message, the Republicans say.
Democrats have kept up the attack.
"The 2006 midterm elections will be our next opportunity to change the environment of corruption and incompetence in Washington," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said Thursday in a fund-raising letter to Democrats.
Reid has called for Rove's resignation and a "thorough house cleaning" at the White House.
In the AP-Ipsos poll, nearly one in five Republicans disapproved of Bush's handling of his job, compared with nearly nine in 10 Democrats. Nearly seven in 10 independents disapproved.
Four in five Republicans still back the president.
The president has lost support from some key groups of constituents over the past year. He's dropped 16 points in his approval rating with men in that time, 18 points with people who have a high school education or less, 16 points among Southerners and 13 points among Republicans.
The poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 among 1,006 adults across the U.S. The margin on sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.