Poll: Good News Fails to Boost Bush's Job Approval

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President Bush answers a question during a joint statement event with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in the East Room at the White House, on Thursday

A spate of good news at home and abroad has so far failed to boost how Americans feel about President Bush's job performance. Bush's approval rating slipped to 35% in a TIME poll taken this week, down from 37% in March (and 53% in early 2005). Only 33% of Americans in the survey said they approved of Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq, vs. 35% in March, and 47% in March 2005. His management of the U.S. economy lost supporters, too, as 36% approved, compared with 39% three months earlier. Bush's handling of the war on terror saw a slight gain in support, from 44% to 45%.

Bush's poll numbers remain stuck in a rut despite several high-profile victories scored recently by the Bush Administration. Earlier this month, U.S. forces killed al-Qaeda leader Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi in an air raid in Iraq. Also this month, Karl Rove escaped indictment in the CIA leak investigation. And the Commerce Department reported today that the U.S. economy grew 5.6% in the first quarter of 2006, the fastest growth in more than two years.

But continued pessimism about the situation in Iraq and a broad sense of unease about America's direction may be undermining Bush's popularity. In the TIME survey, 66% said the country is on the wrong track, vs. 28% who said it's going in the right direction. Those numbers have worsened since March, when the poll recorded a 60% to 34% split. When asked whether the new Iraqi government will be able to build a stable and reasonably democratic society, 48% of those surveyed said no, while 39% remain optimistic.

Congress isn't faring much better.

Americans have grown more critical of the job Congress is doing, compared with three months ago. Only 31% approved, down sharply from 39% in March. Asked whether they would be more likely to vote for the Republican or Democratic candidate in the district where they live if the election were held today, 47% said Democrat and 35% said Republican, a two-point improvement for Democrats.

The TIME survey was conducted among 1,003 adult Americans on June 27-29.