It's like Chris Matthews said: Only the "real whack jobs" dislike Bush

The president's appproval rating falls again; only 13 percent approve of his handling of high gas prices.

Published May 10, 2006 1:40PM (EDT)

A month into Josh Bolten's tenure as White House chief of staff -- and less than six months before midterm elections -- the president's poll numbers have just taken another dive. Mirroring a Gallup poll released earlier this week, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll has George W. Bush's approval rating dropping two points to 31 percent. Put another way -- yes, 6 percent of the public is still undecided about the president -- 63 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Bush is doing his job.

And that, relatively speaking, is the good news. Only 29 percent of respondents approve of the way Bush is handling Iraq; 28 percent approve of the way he's handling the economy; 27 percent approve of the way he's handling healthcare; 26 percent approve of the way he's handling immigration; and just 13 percent approve of the way he's handling high gasoline prices.

Thirteen percent? That's a really low number, but it's not the lowest polling result we've ever seen: In a 2002 Roper poll, 12 percent of Americans said that they or someone they know has had an up-close encounter with a UFO.

Need more polling perspective? The Times says that only two presidents in modern history -- Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon -- have had lower overall approval ratings than Bush is sporting now.

Will Bush's numbers mean anything to Democrats in November? There's some reason to think so. According to the new poll, 55 percent of Americans now have a favorable view of Democrats, while 57 percent have an unfavorable view of Republicans.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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