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Bush Approval: A Last Look

As George W. Bush's final days as president dawn, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds him leaving behind one of the lowest final approval ratings in history and a wounded Republican Party.

Bush's final approval mark stands at 33 percent in the new poll, above his career low of 23 percent reached in early October, but besting only Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Harry S. Truman in approval ratings recorded since Gallup began tracking the measure in 1938.

Just over half - 51 percent - strongly disapprove of Bush's performance over the past eight years, more than three times the percentage who strongly approve. A look at the numbers among the groups which formed the heart of Bush's winning coalitions in 2000 and 2004 reveals a wide GOP rift.

Overall, 68 percent of Republicans approve of the job the president did, but partisan views on Bush are further split by ideology. Among conservative Republicans, he is a resounding success: 82 percent approve, 53 percent strongly. But moderate and liberal GOPers have a more tepid take. Just over half (52 percent) approve, only about a quarter (26 percent) do so strongly.

And those positive vibes on the conservative side appear to be coming from a different direction than one would expect for the self-styled compassionate conservative: Bush finishes his term with a 49 percent approval rating among white evangelical Protestants, a group which formed the core of his campaign's famous turnout operation in 2004. On the other side of the conservative coin, Bush merits a 70 percent approval rating from small government conservatives.

Bush's vice president, Dick Cheney, fares about the same as the president: 30 percent approve of the job he did, including 58 percent of Republicans. Overall, 60 percent disapprove of the VP's performance.

With Bush returning to Texas, neither side of the Republican party appears enamored of the congressional leadership he leaves behind. Among Republicans, only about half (52 percent) said they have confidence in the Republicans in Congress to make the right decisions for the country's future, standing in sharp contrast to the Democrats set to control both the executive and legislative branches, 77 percent of Democrats have confidence in the congressional delegation, and 88 percent express faith in Obama.

Bush Approval: One Year In Office vs. Final Measure
                   Jan. '02   Jan. '08 
All                   83        33

Republican            98        68
Independent           81        34
Democrat              73         6

Conservative          94        57
Moderate              83        28
Liberal               72        11

Republicans by ideology:
Conservative         100        82
Moderate/liberal      97        52

Liberal Democrats     69         1

Small government
 conservatives        96        70

White evangelical 
 Protestants          95        49

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  January 18, 2009; 4:45 PM ET
Categories:  Post Polls , Presidential Approval  
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Next: The President-Elect and the Pastor

Comments

DO NOT LISTEN TO WHAT BARACK OBAMA SAYS, BUT CAREFULLY WATCH WHAT HE DOES !!!

Barack Obama is the greatest liar in history (no wonder he is an excellent lawyer!) During his campaign, he told lots of hope in future for America if he was elected, but now he warns Americans of oncoming darker economy and not to put too much hope in his promises. He promises a big plan to reduce budget deficit but his inauguration ceremony this January will be the most costly in history (50 millions) while the nation is in deep depression, as well as his presidential campaign (600 millions), which was far more than his opponent John McCain's. He swears to clean up Washington DC, but he failed to first clean up his homestate Illinois, one of the most corrupt state with the scandal of Governor Rod Blagojevich, who greatly helped Obama to win his state senate seat in 1996, 1998, and 2002. And his favorite slogan is "Yes, we CAN", yet he himself CANNOT quit smoking at all !!!

Posted by: TIMNGUYEN1 | January 19, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

As a teacher of, and writer on, American history, my observation is that Bush's enablers need to understand that he will very likely go down as the worst president in our history. No competition. Grant, Harding, Buchanan, Coolidge, Hoover, etc. -- all of their failings were largely failings of omission and, in the longer term, did little lasting harm to the nation that couldn't be patched up by their successors. Whereas Bush's failings were failings of active and enthusiastic commission. His disastrous presidency, both at home (Katrina, the implosion of the economy, massive political polarization, exploiting 9/11 and Iraq, rising debt and deficits) and abroad (losing TWO overseas wars, allowing 9/11 to transpire while taking a lengthy and undeserved vacation, alienating the entire world) may take decades to recover from. Bush and his many enablers can rationalize all they want, but FACTS are FACTS, and they won't be able to escape the judgment of historical inquiry.

Posted by: osullivanc1 | January 20, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

maybe no one will ever read this, so my prediction won't cause any problems...
i believe that we are only witnessing the tip of the iceberg of the chaos brought forth (unintentionally) by the Bush administration's disastrous economic and foreign policies. the last real depression gave birth to Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Franco, and many others. This recession will live on in Africa, Asia, and South America in ways no one could imagine (of course!) Also, the lack of moral compass of Bush et al. results in anarchy in many sectors, and totalitarian rule in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China.

Posted by: kbtoledo | January 21, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

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