If the White House was hoping that this week's CBS News poll was some kind of fluke, it's probably time to put that fantasy to bed. There are new polls out now from Fox/Opinion Dynamics, CNN/USA Today/Gallup and the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg. While the numbers are a little different in each, the trend in all is the same: down.
The CBS poll has George W. Bush's approval rating at 34 percent, down eight points in a month. Fox has Bush at 39 percent, down five points since last month. Gallup puts him at 38 percent, down a point since last month and up just one from his lowest level ever. The L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll has Bush at an all-time-low 38 percent, down five from January.
Most immediately, the cause seems to be concern over the Dubai ports deal. The backlash, coming from both sides of the aisle, has knocked the national security legs right out from under the president -- so much so that Bush is getting, for the first time in his presidency, negative approval ratings on things like his handling of terrorism. "The issue of security and terrorism was supposed to be the strength that drives Republican victories and generally has been the strongest suit of the president," University of Wisconsin political scientist Charles Franklin tells USA Today. "Now they don't have a strong suit to play."
Longer term, Iraq is probably the bigger problem. The question-by-question breakdown of the Gallup poll shows that 64 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Bush is handling Iraq; 55 percent believe the war was a mistake; and 65 percent say the U.S. should withdraw some (38 percent) or all (27 percent) of its troops now. Fifty-two percent of the public says that the United States either can't or won't win the war in Iraq.
Some other numbers of note: Fifty-nine percent say that Bush can't manage the government effectively; 52 percent say he isn't "honest and trustworthy"; and 58 percent say he isn't paying enough attention to what his administration is doing. And even those who support Bush now seem to do so halfheartedly. Only 20 percent of the public "strongly approves" of the way Bush is doing his job.
Tell us again about the mandate, George.