Bush faces an election disaster as voters turn Democrat

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The Independent US

Like Tony Blair, and for many of the same reasons, George Bush's popularity has hit a nadir and his Republicans risk losing control of Congress at mid-term elect-ions in November.

Apart from terrorism and national defence, Democrats sweep the board on the issues. In a New York Times/CBS poll yesterday, they are held to have the better policies on education, health care, taxes and immigration. By 57 per cent to 11 per cent, they are considered more likely to reduce petrol prices.

Most significantly perhaps, Democrats are judged to have better policies on Iraq, by a clear 48-30 margin. A narrow majority believe that some form of democratic government will emerge in Baghdad. But by a two to one margin, Americans do not believe Mr Bush can successfully end the war. By a record 56 per cent to 39 per cent, they now say it was wrong for the US to have invaded in the first place.

Even more ominously for the White House, more than four out of five of those surveyed say the Republican-controlled Congress has "not asked enough questions" on Iraq. This suggests Democrats would enjoy broad public support if - were they to win control of either the Senate or the House - they launched the major investigation into the origins of the Iraq war that the Bush administration has so far escaped.

Bush's one comfort, in America's new age of disillusion, is that few other leading politicians fare much better. Of those who might replace him, Hillary Clinton is regarded favourably by 34 per cent, but unfavourably by 35 per cent, with a third having no opinion.

Among Republicans, John McCain, the Arizona senator and current front-runner to win the party's 2008 nomination, has a positive 31-15 rating.