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Aiming For The History Books

More Record Lows For Bush And The State Of The Country; Plus: Frankenfoods vs. Famine

More Americans than ever -- nearly seven in 10 -- disapprove of President Bush's job performance, and voters' overall dissatisfaction with the direction the country is going has neared record highs. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll [PDF] shows Bush's approval rating at a record low of 31 percent, with 66 percent disapproving of his leadership.

According to Gallup and ABC News/Post polls taken since 1934, Bush is now in a class with only three other presidents whose ratings dropped lower than that: Jimmy Carter, whose approval rating hit 28 percent in 1979; Richard Nixon, who hit 24 percent in 1974; and Harry Truman, who fell to 22 percent in 1952.

 

Despite the strong sentiment against Bush's overall performance (52 percent strongly disapprove), a clear partisan divide is still present. Almost seven in 10 Republicans approved of Bush's job performance, whereas a mere 9 percent of Democrats and 24 percent of independents agreed. Still, the amount of GOP voters who said they "strongly approve" of Bush's performance is now at just 39 percent.

A Gallup poll taken earlier this month also shows both a strong partisan split and GOP voters' growing dissatisfaction with Bush. In this poll, six in 10 Republicans approve of Bush's job performance, which Gallup's analysis indicates is a "significant departure" from the higher numbers he's had throughout his presidency -- an average of 92 percent during his first term and 77 percent in his second. According to Gallup's analysis, this loss of support from the GOP base is "the primary mover behind the erosion in Bush's overall job approval rating in recent weeks," given that his numbers among Democrats and independents already bottomed out years ago.

Most Americans are also increasingly disgruntled over the direction the country is going. An overwhelming 82 percent of respondents to the ABC News/Post survey indicated that the country is on the wrong track, up 10 points over the past year and nearing the record high set in 1973. Sentiment diverges along party lines here as well -- 95 percent of Democrats and 86 percent of independents deem the nation off track, but only 62 percent of Republicans indicated as much.

 

Other polls have shown similarly dismal voter sentiment on both Bush's job performance and the state of the country as a whole. Recent surveys, such as this month's Diageo/Hotline poll, have measured their own all-time highs for respondents saying the country is on the wrong track. And just last month, Bush made headlines for surpassing Truman as the president who has gone the longest without the support of a majority of Americans.

Veepstakes Wide Open

As Barack Obama's chances of sealing the Democratic nod increase, so too will the pressure on him and his presumptive Republican opponent, John McCain, to begin winnowing down their list of possible nominees for vice president. Whatever decision they make will doubtless be picked apart and debated by the punditocracy, but according to the ABC News/Washington Post poll [PDF], most people aren't paying much attention to bottom of the ticket, at least for now.

When respondents were asked whether picking Hillary Rodham Clinton as his running mate would make them more likely to vote for Obama, a 54 percent majority said the choice wouldn't affect their decision one way or the other. And when pollsters inquired into just whom Democrats would like to see as Obama's VP, opinion was mixed and hardly enthusiastic. A 39-percent plurality chose Clinton, but that only put her 3 points above "no opinion," the second-most popular answer. There was even less agreement among Republicans; nearly half registered no opinion on the matter. (Second place was taken by former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, with 12 percent.)

A Healthy Solution?

The ongoing global food crisis has prompted debate on what steps can be taken by the international community to address shortages of staple foods. One proposal that is gaining traction: Planting genetically modified crops with the potential, supporters say, to produce more food at cheaper prices and in harsher climate conditions. But many countries have expressed concern that possible safety issues related to GM foods have not been sufficiently addressed.

 

So how do Americans feel about genetically modified food? In a new CBS/New York Times survey, 44 percent said that they have heard little or nothing at all about GM foods, but nearly nine in 10 respondents said they think food containing genetically modified ingredients needs to be labeled. A 53-percent majority said that they would not buy GM food products, while 43 percent said they would consider it.

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