THE FIELD REPORT
By Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field
Only about one in four registered voters in this state (26%) approve of the overall job that President George W. Bush is doing. Almost two in three (65%) disapprove. These findings are very similar to what was found in the last Field Poll of voters conducted earlier this year.
Californians’ overwhelming unfavorable view of Bush’s handling of the situation in Iraq continues to be the chief contributor to the President’s low esteem. Three times as many voters disapprove of Bush’s actions in Iraq (72%) as approve (24%).
A growing proportion of Californians (65%) support either withdrawing all (39%) or some (26%) of the U.S. troops now stationed in Iraq. In addition, nearly six in ten (58%) favor Congress passing legislation that would set a deadline to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq by next spring.
Voters are somewhat less negative of Bush in his handling of the economy. Still, a 58% to 34% majority disapprove of his performance in this regard.
Bush’s overall job approval remains at very low level
During the months prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, President Bush received mixed overall job ratings from the California public (42% approve and 45% disapprove).
Immediately after the attacks, Bush’s approval rating spiked to 74%. However, the President’s job marks have declined steadily since then, to where only about one in four voters approve of his performance in polls conducted this year.
Currently, just one in eleven Democrats (9%) approve of the job Bush is doing, while 85% disapprove. Among Republicans, a little more than one-half (53%) rate the President positively, while 36% give him negative marks. The views of non-partisans are closer to that of Democrats, with 72% disapproving and just 19% approving.
Bush’s Iraq performance viewed very negatively
Three times as many California voters rate Bush’s handling of the Iraq situation negatively (72%) as positively (24%). This is similar to voter assessments last March and represents a continuation of the year-by-year drop in approval since the first month of the war in April 2003.
At the time the war began, 60% approved of Bush’s performance regarding Iraq and 37% disapproved.
Only about one in eleven California Democrats (9%) approve of the way Bush is handling the Iraq situation and 90% disapprove. Republicans are more evenly divided, with 49% disapproving and 46% approving. Three in four non-partisans (74%) give Bush poor marks on Iraq, while just 19% approve.
Growing support for U.S. troop withdrawal
Currently, 65% of California voters support either a complete (39%) or partial (26%) withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. This compares to just 18% who favor keeping the number of U.S. troops at their current levels and 10% who favor sending in more troops.
Today’s findings represent an increase in support for troop withdrawal compared to two years ago, the last time the Field Poll asked this question. In August 2005, a little more than one-half (52%) thought that either all or some of the U.S. forces in Iraq should be withdrawn.
Voter support for a troop withdrawal has increased across all partisan groups. Two years ago, 71% of Democrats favored a withdrawal policy. Now, 82% have this opinion.
Among Republicans, sentiment for drawing down troop levels has increased from 26% to 40% over the same period, while among non-partisans 66% favor withdrawing some or all troops, up from 56% two years ago.
Withdrawal deadline supported
By a 58% to 38% margin, California voters favor Congress passing legislation that would set a deadline for the U.S. to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq by the spring of 2008.
Seventy-five percent of Democrats and 68% of non-partisans endorse the idea of a troop withdrawal deadline. By contrast, just 30% of Republicans hold this view.
Bush’s handling of the economy also viewed negatively
Since 2003 California voters have consistently registered greater disapproval than approval of Bush’s handling of the nation’s economy. In 2003 and 2004 Field Poll surveys found disapproval in this regard running about ten percentage points higher than his approval rating. This negative gap has increased in subsequent years. Now, disapproval of Bush’s handling of the economy is 58% and approval is 34%, a 24 percentage-point gap.
Four out of five Democrats (80%) rate Bush negatively on the economy, as do 65% of non-partisans. By contrast, Republicans remain quite positive of Bush’s handling of the economy, with 65% approving and 26% disapproving.
See Related: FIELD REPORT