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California voter approval of Bush
at new low

Field Poll shows Feinstein beating Republican challenger two to one

By Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field

June 4, 2006

The views that California voters have of George W. Bush's performance as President has reached yet another new low. The latest Field Poll finds just 28% approve of the job Bush is doing, while 65% disapprove.

Bush's 28% level of approval is the lowest rating given to any sitting U.S. President in California since August 1974, shortly before Richard Nixon resigned from office following the Watergate scandal.

The state's voters give similarly low job marks to the U.S. Congress, with 23% disapproving and 64% approving. While there are large partisan differences in the views that voters have of Bush, there is more of a bipartisan consensus with regard to the poor performance of Congress. Contributing to these appraisals is the view held by two in three voters (64%) that the direction of the U.S. is seriously off on the wrong track.

The electorate's overall negative assessment of the Congress does not carry over to its views about California's senior Senator, Dianne Feinstein. When she is paired against Republican former State Senator Richard Mountjoy in a simulated November general election match-up, Feinstein is favored for re-election by a nearly two to one margin (54% to 28%).

Bush's current 28% approval rating is now lower than the lowest rating given his father in July 1992, when 37% approved of President George Herbert Walker Bush's performance in office, shortly before his re-election defeat to Bill Clinton. It is also lower than the 33% approval rating which Californians gave to Jimmy Carter in July 1980, prior to his losing the Presidency to Ronald Reagan.

However, Bush's poor marks haven't reached the record low job appraisal given to Nixon in August 1974, shortly before he resigned from office.

Democrats are nearly uniform in their disapproval of Bush's performance as President, with 86% disapproving and just 10% approving. Non-partisans are also very negative in their assessments of Bush, with 74% rating him negatively and 16% positively. Only Republicans continue to view the President positively overall, although their impressions are now less than two to one positive (59% to 33%). All other major subgroups of the state's voting population rate Bush more negatively than positively, with the exception of political conservatives, who approve by a 56% to 36% margin. By contrast, just 6% of political liberals approve of the President's performance in office, while 93% approve.

California voters also hold a very negative view of the job the U.S. Congress is doing. Currently, just 23% approve, while 64% disapprove of its performance. These ratings are very similar to those observed in April, and are among the lowest ratings ever given that institution since The Field Poll began measuring the job performance of the U.S. Congress in 1992.

One of the distinguishing features of voter impressions of Congress is its bi-partisan consensus. Not only do 70% of Democrats disapprove of the job the nation's law-making body is doing, but about six in ten Republicans (59%) and non-partisans (61%) also disapprove.

Contributing to the very negative appraisals that California voters have of the President and the Congress is the fact that nearly two in three (64%) believe the country is seriously off on the wrong track, while just 28% feel it is moving in the right direction.

These findings are similar to those found in April and are also among the poorest assessments of the country's overall direction since 1992, when the U.S. was in the midst of a prolonged recession.

Despite the low assessments that voters have of the Congress, Californians appear inclined to re-elect U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein this year. When matched against her GOP challenger, former State Senator Richard Mountjoy, in a simulated November general election match-up, the incumbent holds a large 54% to 28% lead. These results are similar to two prior measures between Feinstein and Mountjoy dating back to February of this year.

Information about the survey

The findings in this report are based on a random sample survey of 986 Californians registered to vote. Interviewing was conducted in English and Spanish between the period May 23-31, 2006. Findings in the U.S. Senate race are based on 702 likely voters in the November general election. Telephone households were sampled using a random digit dial methodology, which randomly selects operating landline telephone exchanges within all area codes serving California households in proportion to population. Within each exchange, random samples of telephone numbers are created by adding random digits to each selected telephone exchange. This method gives each phone listing an equal chance of being selected and permits access to all landline telephone numbers both listed and unlisted. According to statistical theory, 95% of the time results from the overall registered voter sample have a sampling error or +/- 3.2 percentage points, while findings relating to the U.S. Senate election have a sampling error of +/- 3.8 percentage points. There are other possible sources of error in any survey other than sampling variability. Different results could occur because of differences in question wording, sampling, or sequencing or through undetected omissions or errors in interviewing or data processing. Extensive efforts were made to minimize such potential errors.




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