This CBS News Poll finds an American public increasingly pessimistic about the economy, the war in Iraq, the overall direction of the country, and the president. Americans' outlook for the economy is the worst it has been in four years. Most expect the price of gas to rise even further in the next few months.
A growing number of Americans want U.S. troops to leave Iraq as soon as possible, rather than stay the course, and the highest percentage ever thinks the United States should have stayed out of Iraq. When given a set of options for paying for rebuilding the hurricane-racked Gulf Coast, only one---taking money from the Iraq War---gets majority support.
President Bush's overall job approval rating has reached the lowest ever measured in this poll, and evaluations of his handling of Iraq, the economy and even his signature issue, terrorism, are also at all-time lows. More Americans than at any time since he took office think he does not share their priorities.
The public's concerns affect their view of the state of the country. Sixty-nine percent of Americans say things in the United States are pretty seriously off on the wrong track---the highest number since CBS News started asking the question in 1983. Today, just 26 percent say things are going in the right direction.
DIRECTION OF THE COUNTRY
Right direction 26%
Wrong track 69%
Majorities of the public have consistently said the U.S. is off on the wrong track since January 2004. In May 2004, shortly after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal came to light, 65 percent were negative. In November 1994, just as Republicans took control of both houses of Congress for the first time in decades, 6 percent of Americans said the country was off on the wrong track.
President Bush's job approval rating has fallen to his lowest rating ever. 37 percent now approve of the job he is doing as president, while 58 percent disapprove. Those in his own party are still overwhelmingly positive about his performance (nearly 80 percent approve), but the president receives little support from either Democrats or Independents. And while views of President Bush have lately not changed much among Republicans or Democrats, his approval rating among Independents has dropped 11 points since just last month, from 40 percent to 29 percent now.
PRESIDENT BUSH'S JOB APPROVAL
President Bush also receives his lowest ratings ever on his handling of the economy and Iraq, with only a third approving of either. Here as well, there has been a drop in approval among Independents since last month in both of those areas, although his ratings among Independents were low last month as well.
PRESIDENT BUSH JOB APPROVALS
Hurricane Katrina 45%
Recent hurricanes 46%
And for the first time in this poll, fewer than half the public approves of the way he is handling the campaign against terrorism. 46 percent now approve, but 46 percent disapprove.
Approval of Bush's handling of Hurricane Katrina is about the same as last month, and now stands at 45 percent. Overall evaluation of how he has managed all the recent hurricanes in the Gulf Coast is 46 percent.
Since earlier this year, the President has been viewed as out of touch with Americans. Only 32 percent now think he shares their priorities for the country, while twice as many think he does not. At earlier points in his presidency, more Americans felt he shared their goals.
DOES PRESIDENT BUSH SHARE YOUR PRIORITIES FOR THE COUNTRY?
On this question too, the President maintains the support of Republicans (69 percent of them feel he shares their priorities), but finds little among either Democrats or Independents.
President Bush receives less credit for empathy than he has in previous polls. 52 percent of Americans think he cares about people like them at least somewhat, the lowest figure ever.
There are continued questions about his leadership abilities: 52 percent now say they have a lot or some confidence in the President's ability to handle a crisis, and 45 percent see him as a strong leader, down significantly from views at previous points in his presidency, and the lowest number ever in this poll.
DOES PRESIDENT BUSH HAVE STRONG QUALITIES OF LEADERSHIP?
A sizable number of Americans express skepticism about whether President Bush has chosen qualified people for positions in his administration. 52 percent have at least some confidence in his choices, but almost as many, 47 percent, have little or no confidence.