Bush's Approval Ratings Decline as Support for His Social Security Plan Heads South
The latest Pew Research Center poll finds Bush’s approval ratings headed downwards. In the poll, Bush’s overall approval rating is now 46 percent approval/47 percent disapproval, compared to 50 percent/43 percent in January. His approval ratings on Iraq (from 45/50 to 40/53) and on foreign policy (from 48/43 to 43/46) have fallen even further over the same period. And even his approval rating on handling terrorist threats has declined from 62 to 59 percent.
The Pew poll also shows that, despite a recent uptick in optimism about prospects for stability in Iraq, support for the Iraq war itself is declining. The public is now split 47 percent-47 percent on whether using military force against Iraq was the right decision or wrong decision, the most negative reading ever on this poll question by Pew. Moreover, independents now believe using military force was the wrong decision by 53-42, the most negative reading yet among this particular group.
As for whether Bush has a clear plan to bring the Iraq situation to a successful conclusion, just 32 percent now believe he does, compared to 61 percent who think he does not. That is also the most negative result ever on this particular question. It would appear that the Iraqi elections, despite favorable initial reaction, have not fundamentally altered dubious public views of the Iraq situation.
The latest NPR poll provides the most recent evidence that Bush’s efforts to build support for his Social Security plan have been singularly ineffective. In this poll, despite findings that indicate Bush has a more favorable image than the GOP as a whole on approaching Social Security issues, an unaided question that simply refers to “President Bush’s proposed changes to Social Security” gets a very negative response: Only 30 percent say they favor his proposed changes, compared to 53 percent who say they oppose them. Moreover, only 13 percent strongly support these changes, while three times as many (38 percent) strongly oppose them.
Additional questions in the poll show that opposition is still high when respondents are given some details about Bush’s plan. When referred to as Bush’s “proposal to create voluntary Personal Retirement Accounts as part of the Social Security system”, opposition is 49-41. And when referred to as Bush’s “proposal to privatize Social Security and divert part of the Social Security system into private accounts”, opposition is a sharper 58-34.
Thus, no matter whether Bush’s plan is referred to with his preferred language or with that preferred by Democrats, the result is still opposition. This suggests the degree to which Bush’s persuasive efforts are hitting a brick wall.