Bush Job Approval at 57%

by David W. Moore

Up five points over past week and a half, but at "average" for year

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- According to the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, the American public generally approves of President George W. Bush's performance in office, both in general and on most of the specific issues measured in the poll. The poll was conducted last week, July 10-11, and the results give little support to recent commentary suggesting the president is in serious trouble with the American people.

While Bush's approval rating did fall to 52% at the end of June and has rebounded to 57% in the current poll, the basic trend has remained fairly stable since he assumed office. The June rating is the lowest Bush has received, but it was only one point lower than two of his other ratings -- one at the end of March, and another at the beginning of May. Overall, his ratings have fluctuated within an 11-point range, between 52% and 63%, averaging 57% since the first measurement last February -- the exact level where it is now. The average job approval ratings in May and June were 55% and 54%, respectively, down slightly from averages of 59%, 58% and 61% in February, March and April. By way of contrast, the job approval ratings of Bush's immediate predecessor, Bill Clinton, fell more than 20 points from late January to early June in his first year in office.

George W. Bush's Job Approval Rating

The poll also shows that a clear plurality, if not majority, of Americans approve of Bush's handling of most of the issues measured, with divided feelings expressed on the rest of the issues. For the most part, these views reflect few differences from those expressed in earlier polls, contributing to the picture of a president who has not gone through a major crisis with the public, but rather a president who has maintained a fairly steady base of support.

Americans express their greatest level of approval on Bush's handling of education and taxes, two issues where Bush has focused some of his most intensive legislative efforts. The tax cut has already been passed and signed into law, and the education bill appears likely to be enacted into law sometime this summer. Bush also receives high marks for the economy and foreign affairs, suggesting that uncertain predictions about the health of the economy have not taken a toll on his support, and that the public views his overseas diplomatic efforts positively.

BUSH JOB APPROVAL SUMMARY TABLE

 

2001 Jul 10-11
(sorted by "approve")

Approve

Disapprove

 

%

%

     

Education

63

25

Taxes

60

33

The economy

54

36

Foreign affairs

54

33

Prescription drugs for older Americans

52

28

Patient's bill of rights

51

28

Social Security

49

35

The environment

46

42

Government support for faith-based organizations

46

32

Energy

45

44

Campaign finance

37

40



Americans give the president relatively high approval ratings on prescription drugs for older Americans, the patient's bill of rights, Social Security, and government support for faith-based organizations. These ratings must be viewed cautiously, however, as it is likely that most Americans are not aware of specific actions Bush has taken on these issues and that they give Bush good ratings on these issues mostly because of their overall positive feelings about the president. On the patient's bill of rights, for example, a Gallup poll at the end of June found that just 36% of Americans said they were following the issue closely. Also, the results in the current poll show a relatively high percentage of respondents -- 21% -- expressing no opinion of Bush's performance on the patient's rights issue. By contrast, only 7% of Americans give no rating to Bush on taxes, and 12% give no rating on education.

On three issues -- the environment, energy, and campaign finance -- opinion is about evenly divided between approval and disapproval. Slightly greater numbers of Americans say they approve rather than disapprove of Bush's handling of environmental issues -- 46% to 42%; on the other hand, slightly greater numbers say they disapprove rather than approve of Bush on campaign finance -- 40% to 37%. But these differences are small and within the poll's margin of error. Similarly, the public is about evenly divided on energy, with 45% approving of Bush on the issue and 44% disapproving.

Major Divisions by Region and Race

There continue to be major divisions in the public over Bush's job approval -- divisions that generally reflect partisan differences across the country. The largest rating differences, as might be expected, are found between Republicans and Democrats, whose approval of Bush's performance is 90% and 31%, respectively. (Independents fall in the middle with a 52% approval rating.) There is also a large ratings gap between whites and nonwhites (62% approval vs. 34% approval).

The South continues to be Bush's area of greatest support, as his approval rating is 66% there, up by six points over early June. The East also shows an increase in approval, from 50% to 56%. The lowest approval rating, however, is in the West -- now at 44%, compared with 56% last month. No doubt the energy situation in California is reflected in these lower numbers among people in that part of the country.

The 27-point gap between high- and low-income Americans has narrowed to six points since a Gallup poll a month ago (June 8-10). Currently, 61% of those earning $50,000 a year or more approve of Bush, compared with 55% of those earning less than $20,000 a year. Last month, those in the high-income category gave Bush a 64% approval rating, compared with 37% among those in the low-income group.

The gender gap has also moderated from last month, from 11 to five percentage points -- with the current poll showing that 60% of men approve, compared with 55% of women. In early June, men were more likely to approve than were women, by 61% to 50%.

Survey Methods

The results reported here are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 998 adults, 18 years and older, conducted July 10-11, 2001. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. 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.

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?

 

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

 

%

%

%

       

2001 Jul 10-11

57

35

8

       

2001 Jun 28-Jul 1

52

34

14

2001 Jun 11-17

55

33

12

2001 Jun 8-10

55

35

10

2001 May 18-20

56

36

8

2001 May 10-14

56

31

13

2001 May 7-9

53

33

14

2001 Apr 20-22

62

29

9

2001 Apr 6-8

59

30

11

2001 Mar 26-28

53

29

18

2001 Mar 9-11

58

29

13

2001 Mar 5-7

63

22

15

2001 Feb 19-21

62

21

17

2001 Feb 9-11

57

25

18

2001 Feb 1-4

57

25

18



Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling -- [ROTATED]? How about -- ?

A. The economy

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

 

%

%

%

       

2001 Jul 10-11

54

36

10

       

2001 May 18-20

51

41

8

2001 Apr 20-22 ^

55

38

7

2001 Mar 9-11

55

32

13

2001 Feb 1-4

53

27

20



B. Foreign affairs

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

 

%

%

%

       

2001 Jul 10-11

54

33

13

       

2001 May 18-20

55

35

10

2001 Apr 20-22 ^

56

31

13

2001 Mar 9-11

52

27

21

2001 Feb 1-4

46

21

33



C. Campaign finance

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

 

%

%

%

       

2001 Jul 10-11

37

40

23

       

2001 Mar 9-11

38

36

26



D. Education

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

 

%

%

%

       

2001 Jul 10-11

63

25

12

       

2001 Apr 20-22 ^

62

28

10

2001 Mar 9-11

65

22

13



E. Energy

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

 

%

%

%

       

2001 Jul 10-11

45

44

11

       

2001 May 18-20

41

51

8

2001 Apr 20-22 ^

43

45

12



F. The environment

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

 

%

%

%

       

2001 Jul 10-11

46

42

12

       

2001 Apr 20-22 ^

46

44

10



G. Government support for faith-based organizations

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       

2001 Jul 10-11

46%

32

22



H. Prescription drugs for older Americans

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       

2001 Jul 10-11

52%

28

20



I. Patient's bill of rights

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       

2001 Jul 10-11

51%

28

21



J. Social Security

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

 

%

%

%

       

2001 Jul 10-11

49

35

16

       

2001 Mar 9-11

49

31

20



K. Taxes

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

 

%

%

%

       

2001 Jul 10-11

60

33

7

       

2001 Apr 20-22 ^

54

39

7

2001 Mar 9-11

56

35

9



 

^ Based on half sample



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