Americas

Bush’s Approval Rating Drops to New Low of 27%

Decline of 4 points since financial crisis intensified

PRINCETON, NJ -- According to a Sept. 26-27 USA Today/Gallup poll, just 27% of Americans approve of the job George W. Bush is doing as president, the lowest rating of his presidency.

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The new personal low rating for Bush comes amid the financial crisis that has rocked Wall Street in recent weeks. Bush's approval rating has declined from 31% in the previous Gallup Poll, conducted before the crisis intensified with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the near-collapse of Merrill Lynch, and the federal government bailout of AIG. It is down 6 points from 33% just after the Republican National Convention early this month. Bush's previous low had been 28%, measured at several points earlier this year. (The most recent poll was conducted before the House of Representatives voted down a bill to address the problems on Monday.)

The timing of the decline strongly suggests that it is because of the financial crisis, and the government's largely unpopular response to it. In a separate question in the Sept. 26-27 poll, only 28% of Americans approved and 68% disapproved of Bush's response to the financial crisis -- the worst of six government leaders tested in the poll (although no leader received a majority positive response). While most Americans agreed that some type of government action is necessary to address the crisis, last week only a small minority seemed to favor passing a bill similar to the Bush administration's original proposal.

Republicans are mostly responsible for the further erosion in Bush's job rating. Sixty-four percent of Republicans approve of Bush, down from 71% in the prior poll. Independents' and Democrats' ratings are essentially the same as two weeks ago.

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There has been an even sharper drop in Bush's ratings among self-identified conservatives, from 59% to 47%, likely reflecting opposition to the expansion of government involvement in the economy that the Bush administration proposed.

Bush's Long Losing Streak Continues

Low approval ratings have become routine for Bush. He has not had an approval rating above 40% for over two years, and only a handful of ratings at or above 50% his entire second term in office. The low ratings throughout much of his second term have arguably been because of the unpopular war in Iraq. But as conditions for the United States in Iraq have improved in the past year, the economy has gotten much worse and has served as an anchor on Bush's ratings.

Bush has registered 28% approval ratings several times this year, in the spring and summer months as gas prices rose. His high rating for the year is only 34%.

The all-time low rating for any president is 22%, for Harry Truman in February 1952. Bush now joins Truman and Richard Nixon as the only presidents who have had approval ratings of 27% or lower in Gallup Polls.

Bush, like Truman, has the distinction of having some of the highest individual approval ratings in Gallup polling history and some of the lowest. That includes a record-high 90% approval rating for Bush just after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Truman recorded an 87% approval in 1945 just after V-E Day.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,011 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Sept. 26-27, 2008. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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