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Bush's approval ratings slide to new low

Poll: Only one-third say he's handling his job well

President Bush's low approval ratings are starting to worry GOP lawmakers facing re-election.



George W. Bush
Oil and Gas

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush's approval ratings have sunk to a personal low, with only a third of Americans saying they approve of the way he is handling his job, a national poll released Monday said.

In the telephone poll of 1,012 adult Americans carried out Friday through Sunday by Opinion Research Corporation for CNN, 32 percent of respondents said they approve of Bush's performance, 60 percent said they disapprove and 8 percent said they do not know.

That's a significant drop from the way Americans perceived the president a year ago. In a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll carried out April 29-May 1, 2005, Americans were split on their assessments of Bush's performance, with 48 percent saying they approved and 49 percent saying they disapproved. (Read the complete results document -- PDF)

CNN's poll has a sampling error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points for most questions.

It was one of four conducted within the past 10 days that have yielded similar results: a Pew Center poll carried out April 7-16 gave Bush a 35 percent approval rating; a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll carried out last Tuesday and Wednesday gave him a 33 percent approval rating; and an American Research Group poll carried out Tuesday through Friday gave him a 34 percent approval rating.

Asked whether the term "strong and decisive leader" describes Bush, 46 percent said yes, down from 62 percent who said they felt that way in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey carried out July 22-24, 2005.

Asked whether "honest and trustworthy" describes the president, 40 percent said yes, down from 56 percent in a survey carried out April 1-2 last year.

Americans were evenly split on whether Bush is "competent," with 47 percent saying yes, 47 percent saying no and 6 percent expressing no opinion.

Dissatisfaction with their leader appears to parallel Americans' unhappiness over gas prices. More than two-thirds of Americans (69 percent) said recent increases in the cost of gasoline have caused them hardship, with 28 percent saying they have not, and 1 percent saying they have no opinion.

Asked to rate the level of hardship, 23 percent described it as "severe," and 46 percent described it as "moderate."

That's up from last April, when a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found that 15 percent of respondents said the price of gasoline was causing them "severe hardship" and 43 percent said it was causing them "moderate" hardship.

Last week, a Lundberg Survey of gasoline prices found the average cost of a gallon of self-serve regular was $2.91. Last April, the average gallon cost $2.29.

Bush's flagging popularity might produce dividends for the Democrats. Asked about the congressional elections slated for November, half of registered voters said they would vote for Democrats if the election were held now, 40 percent said they would vote for Republicans and 6 percent said they did not know.

This question has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Still, that's not significantly different from last August, when 53 percent said they were likely to vote for a Democrat versus 41 percent who said they were likely to vote Republican and 6 percent who said they were undecided.

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