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
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
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
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