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THE FIELD POLL: Disapproval of President Bush and his handling of Iraq war at very high levels in California

By Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field

July 26, 2006

There has been no let-up in the unhappiness that Californians have with George W. Bush's overall job performance as President, with 61% now disapproving and 32% approving. A main contributor to this very negative assessment is the President's handling of the war in Iraq. Approval of Bush's performance in handling of the Iraqi war has hit a new low in the current survey, with 67% disapproving and just 28% approving.
A majority of Californians (58%) want the U.S. to withdraw either all (29%) or some (29%) of its troops from Iraq. However, the public is evenly divided on whether a specific troop withdrawal timetable should be set.

These are the findings from the latest Field Poll survey conducted among a statewide sample of 992 California voters.

Bush's overall approval rating remains low

Californians continue to be very negative in their appraisal of the job that Bush is doing as President. After steadily losing favor over the past two years, Bush saw his approval rating reach a new low of 28% in late May, down from 32% in April. The current survey shows that Bush's standing with voters has rebounded slightly since May and is similar to what was seen in April.

While a majority of Republicans (65%) approves of the President's performance, this contrasts markedly with the views of Democrats and non-partisans. Statewide, 84% of Democrats and 68% of non-partisans disapprove of the job Bush is doing overall, while just 10% of Democrats and 22% of non-partisans approve.

Bush's rating are lower in California than they are nationally

The findings of recent print and TV media-sponsored national polls reveal that the overall American public also registers strong disapproval of the President's job performance - averaging 38% approval and 58% disapproval. Compared to these national findings, Californians remain somewhat more critical of the President.

Record low approval for Bush's handling of the war in Iraq

Approval of Bush's handling of the war in Iraq has hit a new low, with just 28% approving and 67% disapproving.

Immediately after the U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq in the spring of 2003, a large majority (60%) of California voters approved of Bush's handling of the war. However, one year later in the spring of 2004, those disapproving of Bush's performance became a majority. Over time this majority has increased to the 67% mark found in the current survey.

Nine out of ten Democrats (91%) and seven out of ten (70%) non-partisans disapprove of the President's handling of the Iraqi war. Six in ten Republicans (60%), by contrast, continue to back the President's performance in this area, although 34% disapprove.

Majority supports either a full or partial troop withdrawal

A 58% majority of Californians want either the U.S. to withdraw all of its troops (29%) or some of its troops (29%) from Iraq. About one in four (23%) support keeping the number of troops at current levels, while 10% favor sending in more troops.

These findings represent a slight increase in the majority favoring withdrawing some or all troops from Iraq, when compared to an August 2005 Field Poll survey.

More than three in four Democrats (77%) and 63% of non-partisans went either a total or partial withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Just one in three (31%) Republicans take this position.

A larger proportion of women than men advocate U.S. troop withdrawals (64% vs. 51%). A somewhat stronger desire for a troop withdrawal (68%) also exists among the voters in the 18 to 44 age group, while older voters are more divided.

Ethnic voters, which include Latinos, blacks and Asians, are much more supportive of a full or partial troop withdrawal (70%) than are white non-Hispanics (51%)

Californians sharply divided over whether to set a timetable for troop withdrawal

Californians are sharply divided on the question of whether the U.S. should set a specific timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq. About one half (48%) favor a timetable and about the same proportion (47%) are opposed.

By an almost two to one ratio (62% to 32%) Democrats favor a specific timetable for withdrawal. A smaller majority of non-partisans (55% to 38%) also support a timetable, but GOPers are opposed (73% to 26%).

By a 57% to 40% margin, men think a timetable should not be set, while women take the opposite view (55% to 37%) supporting a troop withdrawal timetable.

Those in the 18 to 44 age group strongly favor a specific timetable 58% to 39%. There is a slight preference (50% to 43%) for not setting a timetable among those 45 to 64 years old. The strongest opposition to a timetable (61% to 33%) is found among those 65 and older.

A majority of ethnic voters (58%) support setting a timetable for troop withdrawal, compared to about four in ten white non-Hispanics (43%) favoring this idea.

Bush and the economy

More California voters disapprove (52%) than approve (38%) of the President's handling of the economy. This division of sentiment represents a slight decline in the proportion of Californians disapproving of the President's performance in this area from April.

There are almost mirror image contrasting views between how Democrats and Republicans view Bush's handling of the economy. Democrats disapprove 75% to 14% while Republicans approve 73% to 21%. By a nearly two-to-one margin (57% to 30%) non partisans disapprove of the President's performance in this area.

There has been a small improvement in the way California voters feel on the questions of whether the country is generally going in the right direction or is seriously off on the wrong track.

Last May 64% believed that the U.S. was on the wrong track and 28% thought it was going in the right direction. Now, the ratio of wrong track to right direction is 60% to 30%.
Large majorities of Democrats (75%) and non-partisans (67%) have a pessimistic view of where the country is headed. Republicans lean more to the optimistic side, with 53% believing the U.S. is on the right course, and just 38% thinking it is on the wrong track.




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