President Bush continues to talk up the progress the U.S. military is making in Iraq, but his relentless optimism isn’t having much of an impact on public opinion. According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, 58 percent of Americans disapprove of Bush’s handling of Iraq — which, the Post pointed out, marks the 13th consecutive month a majority of Americans have disapproved of his management of the war. In fact, the president’s policy of ignoring public opinion may be catching up with him; 58 percent of poll respondents also said Bush is ignoring the public’s concerns and focusing on issues that are not important to them.
The full poll results won’t be available until Tuesday evening, so it’s hard to know if respondents were specific about where they think Bush should back off. But Tuesday afternoon’s Post speculated that “partisan squabbles” and controversy over judicial nominees have fueled the perception that the president is out of touch with the electorate.
Bush is losing big particularly among self-described political independents, 68 percent of whom said they disagree with the president’s priorities. The Post characterized the potential loss of those independent voters as “ominous” news for the GOP: “That suggests Bush’s mixed record in the second term on issues the public views as critical — particularly on Iraq and the economy — may be as much a liability for GOP candidates in next year’s mid-term election as his performance in his first term was an asset to Republican congressional hopefuls last year and in 2002.”