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Itís a Nation of Unhappy Campers

by Ruy Teixeira

The whole country seems to be in a pretty surly mood. Hereís the lead to the Washington Post story on their latest poll:

Rising gas prices and ongoing bloodshed in Iraq continue to take their toll on President Bush, whose standing with the public has sunk to an all-time low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey found Bush's job approval rating at 45 percent, down seven points since January and the lowest ever recorded for the president in Post-ABC surveys. Fifty-three percent disapproved of the job Bush is doing.

And hereís the lead to Gallupís story on Bushís approval rating in their August 22-25 poll:

A new Gallup Poll reflects further erosion in President George W. Bush's job approval rating, continuing the slow but steady decline evident throughout the year so far. The poll -- conducted Aug. 22-25 -- puts Bush's job approval rating at 40% and his disapproval rating at 56%. Both are the most negative ratings of the Bush administration. Bush's previous low point in approval was 44% (July 25-28, 2005) and his previous high point in disapproval was 53% (June 24-26, 2005).

But thatís not all! Check out the lead to Gallupís story about their latest economic opinion data:

As oil prices soar past $70 a barrel in response to the potential damage created by Hurricane Katrina, there are widespread predictions of another surge in gas prices at the pump, and a slowdown in the U.S. economy. While the coming "soft-patch" in the economy will most likely be attributed to Katrina, the reality is that consumers' expectations for the economy were already tumbling in response to increasing gas prices prior to the storm hitting southern Louisiana on Monday (Aug. 30).

In a new Gallup Poll (Aug. 22-25), taken about a week before Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, two in three consumers say the economy is getting worse while only 28% say it is getting better. This suggests that the modest declines reported by both the University of Michigan on Friday (Aug. 26) and the Conference Board on Monday (Aug. 30) were significantly out-of-date even as they were announced. Of course, Katrina ,and the storm's aftermath, are likely to significantly exacerbate consumers' already plummeting expectations.

In this latest poll, 63% of consumers say current economic conditions in the country as a whole are "getting worse." This is the highest level of negative economic expectations recorded by Gallup since just before the beginning of the war in Iraq (March 3-5, 2003) when the percentage of consumers saying economic conditions were getting worse reached 67%.

It could be a mighty difficult autumn for the Bush administration. Stay tuned.