A Nation of Unhappy Campers

Bush may want to tout Iraq and the economy in Monday’s State of the Union, but the public has a different opinion about his success—or lack thereof.

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President Bush will deliver his last State of the Union Address on Monday. Two of his big themes will be fixing the economy and touting alleged recent successes in Iraq. And in general, he will try to convince Americans that his administration has actually been very successful and deserves their support.

The American people beg to differ.

On Iraq, the public has not budged in its basic view of the Iraq war and the terrible job Bush has done on the Iraq situation. One year ago, in early January, Bush’s approval rating on Iraq in an ABC/Washington Post poll was 34 percent. Today, it’s actually lower at 30 percent. As the chart shows, there has been only minor fluctuation in the public’s view in the last year, which has ranged from a low of 29 percent to a high of 34 percent. The surge may impress Bush and some pundits, but has not impressed the public.

On the economy, the public has completely lost faith in the Bush administration. Last January, 41 percent approved of the job Bush was doing on the economy. Today, that’s down to 28 percent as a result of a steady fall in approval that started last June. Bush is going to have a hard time selling his economic tonic to a public that has soured so dramatically on his performance.

No wonder an astonishing 77 percent now feel that the country is seriously on the wrong track.

Given these sentiments, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that about the last thing the public wants to do is continue in Bush’s direction. In an early November NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 74 percent of respondents said they think the next president should take a different approach than Bush compared to just 20 percent who said the next president’s approach should be similar.



Yes, it’s a nation of unhappy campers, and it seems highly doubtful that Bush’s State of the Union address will do much—indeed, anything—to turn that around.

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Ruy Teixeira

Former Senior Fellow

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