Liberal, Moderate Republicans Show Large Drop in Support for Bush

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Approval rating has dropped 19 points among this group since January

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Since the start of his second term, George W. Bush's job approval rating has dropped almost 20 percentage points, including declines among key demographic groups. A Gallup analysis shows that Bush has lost the most support over this period from moderate and liberal Republicans, with most of this change coming in the last several months. Conservative Republicans remain solidly behind Bush, although their level of support for him has declined somewhat from the near-universal support they gave him at the start of his second term.

Bush's overall approval rating averaged 33% in the three most recent Gallup Polls, conducted in late April through mid-May. This is down from a 43% average in three polls conducted in January 2006, and a 52% average in three polls conducted in January 2005, as Bush began his second term in office.

The table makes clear that the decline in support for Bush over the last 16 months has occurred among all major political and demographic groups.

George W. Bush Presidential Job Approval, by Demographic Subgroup

Group

Jan
2005

Jan
2006

Apr/May
2006

Change,
Jan
2005-
Apr/May
2006

Change,
Jan
2006-
Apr/May
2006

%

%

%

Pct. Pts.

Pct. Pts.

All Americans

52

43

33

-19

-10

Party Identification

Democrats

20

11

8

-12

-3

Independents

42

31

23

-19

-8

Republicans

91

86

73

-18

-13

Political Ideology

Liberal

21

10

7

-14

-3

Moderate

44

37

26

-18

-11

Conservative

75

69

54

-21

-15

Party and Ideology

Liberal Democrat

13

4

1

-12

-3

Moderate Democrat

21

11

9

-12

-2

Conservative Democrat

30

20

11

-19

-9

Pure independent

33

24

21

-12

-3

Moderate/Liberal Republican

84

74

55

-29

-19

Conservative Republican

92

89

78

-14

-11

Gender

Men

53

47

35

-18

-12

Women

51

40

31

-20

-9

Age

18 to 29 years old

46

39

28

-18

-11

30 to 49 years old

55

46

35

-20

-11

50 to 64 years old

52

44

32

-20

-12

65 years and older

50

40

33

-17

-7

Race

White

56

47

36

-20

-11

Black

22

15

11

-11

-4

Region of Country

East

47

36

26

-21

-10

Midwest

53

42

32

-21

-10

South

57

48

40

-17

-8

West

48

45

31

-17

-14

Place of Residence

Urban

45

35

29

-16

-6

Suburban

53

45

32

-21

-13

Rural

57

48

39

-18

-9

Education

High school or less

52

40

30

-22

-10

Some college

54

47

34

-20

-13

College grad only

54

49

39

-15

-10

Postgraduate

43

37

30

-13

-7

Annual Household Income

Less than $30,000

45

33

25

-20

-8

$30,000 to $74,999

54

44

33

-21

-11

$75,000 and above

55

51

39

-16

-12

Bush's decline in support has been steepest among the group of Republicans who describe their political views as moderate or liberal. In the three most recent polls, 36% of Republicans identified as moderates and 6% as liberals, with the remaining 58% saying they are conservatives. Among the group of moderate and liberal Republicans, approval of Bush has fallen from 84% in January 2005 to 55% today, a decline of 29 percentage points. Most of that decline has come in recent months -- 74% of moderate and liberal Republicans still approved of Bush at the beginning of this year. The 19-percentage-point drop over the last four months is nearly double the national average loss of 10 points.

Bush's support among conservative Republicans has also declined, but to a lesser degree. Again, most of this decline has occurred more recently -- 92% of conservative Republicans approved of Bush in January 2005, compared with 89% in January 2006 and 78% today.

Conservatives and Republicans are the only groups analyzed who show majority approval for Bush in the latest polling. His approval rating among all Republicans -- regardless of their ideological leanings -- is 73%. Among all conservatives -- regardless of party affiliation -- Bush's approval rating is currently 54%.

Democrats have shown less change than have Republicans over time. This is partly because relatively few Democrats, 20%, approved of Bush at the beginning of his second term, making further large declines less possible mathematically. Now, 8% of all Democrats approve of Bush, a decline of 12 points from his rating among this group in January 2005. Support for Bush today is low among Democrats of all ideological persuasions -- conservative (11%), moderate (9%) and liberal (1%).

Twenty-three percent of independents approve of Bush, compared with 42% in January 2005 and 31% at the start of this year.

Geographically, Bush's support is greatest in the South (40%) and lowest in the East (26%), with his ratings in the Midwest (32%) and West (31%) falling between those extremes. Most of the drop in Bush's approval rating among Western residents has occurred this year -- it dipped by only three points (from 48% to 45%) between January 2005 and January 2006, but has since fallen an additional 14 points.

Eleven percent of blacks approve of the job Bush is doing as president, compared with 36% of whites. Bush began his second term with a 22% approval rating among blacks; black support for Bush has been cut in half since then.

Currently, there is only a small gender gap in ratings of Bush -- 35% of men and 31% of women approve of the job he is doing. Women's support for Bush dropped more between January 2005 and January 2006 (51% to 40%), while the drop in support among men has happened more recently.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with randomly selected national samples of approximately 1,000 adults, aged 18 and older, each conducted in January 2005, January 2006, and April 28-May 11, 2006. For results based on these combined samples, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±2 percentage points. Margins of errors for subgroups will be higher.

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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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/22954/Liberal-Moderate-Republicans-Show-Large-Drop-Support-Bush.aspx
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