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Poll: Respondents dissatisfied with Katrina response

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President Bush and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco leave the USS Iwo Jima to tour damaged areas Monday.

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George W. Bush
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(CNN) -- A majority of Americans surveyed in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday said they disapproved of President Bush's handling of the response to Hurricane Katrina.

Conducted September 8-11, the poll said 54 percent of respondents expressed disapproval of Bush's handling of the crisis, compared to 43 percent who said they approved.

Fifty-two percent of respondents agreed that Bush was a strong decisive leader and 47 percent did not.

In a poll conducted August 28-30, 60 percent said he was a strong leader and 40 percent said he was not. (Interactive)

Seventy percent of respondents said they favored forming an independent panel to study the government response to the storm.

The results were based on telephone interviews with 1,005 adults and had a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.

Researchers did not try to call some areas of Mississippi and Louisiana that were declared federal disaster areas following the storm.

Respondents asked about the initial response to Katrina gave low marks to everyone involved -- from Bush to New Orleans residents.

Fifty-five percent said Bush's initial response was poor and 44 percent said it was good.

Federal agencies and state and local officials fared worse.

Almost two-thirds of respondents (63 percent) said that federal agencies did a poor job and 36 percent said their initial response was good.

Fifty-nine percent said state and local officials' initial response was poor, while 38 percent said it was good.

More than half of respondents (57 percent) said that New Orleans residents' initial response was poor, while 39 percent said it was good.

When asked about the response "in the last few days," the results were almost reversed.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents said that Bush's response was good in recent days, while 40 percent said it was poor.

Federal agencies were handling the storm's aftermath well, according to 56 percent of respondents, while 42 percent said they were handling it poorly.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said that state and local officials were now handling the crisis well while 39 percent said they were still handling it poorly.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said that New Orleans residents were now handling the situation well, while 37 percent said they were doing a poor job.

That section of questions had a margin of error of +/- 5 percent.

Ready for a crisis

When asked if they had confidence in the government's ability to deal with a future natural disaster, about one in five (22 percent) said they had a great deal of confidence, 38 percent said they had a moderate amount of confidence and 40 percent said they had no confidence.

The respondents did not express any more confidence in the government's ability to respond to a terrorist attack -- 21 percent said they had great confidence, 42 percent said they had a moderate amount of confidence and 37 percent expressed no confidence.

Those questions also had a margin of error of +/-5 percent.

Rating the officials

A majority of respondents (54 percent) had an unfavorable view of former FEMA Director Michael Brown, compared to 19 percent who had a favorable opinion and 27 percent who were unsure.

Brown stepped down Monday after intense criticism of his agency's handling of the storm's aftermath.

Respondents were split on Brown's former boss, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff -- 34 percent had a favorable opinion, 33 percent had an unfavorable opinion and 33 percent were unsure.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco had similar numbers -- 32 percent expressed a favorable opinion, 35 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion and 33 percent said that they were unsure.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, while 17 percent said their opinion was unfavorable and 45 percent were unsure.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city and lashed out at the slow response to the storm, was viewed favorably by 43 percent of respondents, unfavorably by 34 percent and 23 percent said they were not sure.

The margin of error for those questions was +/- 3 percent, except for the question about Nagin, which had a sample error of +/- 6 percent.

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