Polls show decline in support for Bush as fears mount in America

By Andrew Buncombe
Thursday 23 January 2014 03:37

George Bush's public approval rating has slipped yet further, driven down by concern over the way he is handling the war on terror and preparing to launch a military strike against Saddam Hussein.

Two polls published at the weekend highlight genuine concerns about Mr Bush's foreign policy, usually an issue that has little effect on voters.

They specifically suggest that despite the increasingly frenzied atmosphere in Washington over Iraq, the American public has yet to be convinced of the need for a unilateral strike.

A New York Times/CBS poll found that while 68 per cent of people agreed with taking military action against President Saddam, 56 per cent felt it was important to give the United Nations more time to try and secure the return of weapons inspectors. Sixty-four per cent said they believed the Bush administration had failed to explain its position in regard to Iraq and why military action was required.

Overall, the poll found that 63 per cent approved of the way Mr Bush is doing his job.

While that is a strong rating for a president almost two years into the job, the figure is down three points on his rating of 66 per cent in the summer and down 24 points on his 87 per cent approval record soon after the attacks of 11 September.

The poll found 54 per cent support for his foreign policy. Only two months ago 68 per cent approved of his foreign policy and last autumn the level stood at almost three-quarters approval.

A separate poll in The Washington Post put Mr Bush's approval rating at 69 per cent, down 23 points from a high of 92 per cent registered by the newspaper last October. Seventy per cent now approve of the way he is managing the war on terrorism, down 13 points from July and 22 points from last October's high.

The polls give a clear insight into the uncertainty felt by many by many as America gears itself up for action against Iraq.

These concerns have worsened in recent weeks as a number of high profile figures who served in previous Republican administrations have voiced their own doubts about President Bush's actions, particularly his unilateral approach. How such concerns will be reflected in this November's mid-term election results is hard to predict but there is little doubt that foreign policy will be an important consideration for voters.

One respondent in the New York Times/CBS poll, Leona Miller, 75, from Washington state, said: "I oppose the attack on Iraq. George Bush is on a vendetta started by his father. It is getting-even stuff."

Another respondent, Tom Tully, 35, from Columbus. Ohio, said he approved of a strike sooner rather than later. "Every day we wait to attack, Saddam Hussein is building more chemical weapons and some sources say he already has nuclear weapons. If not now, when? Might as well do it now than later when it gets more difficult."

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