After Falluja, Support for War Steady, but Bush Job Rating Slips

Source Organization: Pew Research Center

04/05/2004 - Public support for war in Iraq has been unaffected by the murders and desecration of the corpses of American citizens in Falluja. However, continued turmoil and violence in Iraq may be taking a toll on President Bush's approval ratings. More Americans now disapprove of the way he is doing his job than approve, though by only a slight margin (47% disapprove vs. 43% approve). Equally important, just four-in-ten approve of the way Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, his lowest rating ever and down from 59% in January. Bush's evaluations on other issues--the economy, energy and even terrorism--have fallen as well. And by a wide margin (57% to 32%) the public does not think he has a clear plan for bringing the situation in Iraq to a successful conclusion, according to the Pew Research Center.

Nonetheless, nearly six-in-ten Americans (57%) continue to believe that the United States made the right decision in using military force against Iraq, which is unchanged from a mid-March survey. However, public attitudes toward most aspects of the U.S. mission in Iraq have turned more negative since January, in the aftermath of the capture of Saddam Hussein. Just 50% of Americans favor keeping troops in Iraq until a stable government is established there, while 44% support bringing the troops home as soon as possible. In January, the public by nearly two-to-one favored maintaining U.S. troops in Iraq until a stable government is formed (63%-32%). 

The Pew Research Center national survey of 790 adults, conducted April 1-4, 2004, finds just 39% approve of Bush's handling of the economy, in spite of signs of an improving jobs picture. At this point, the spiraling price of gas may be overshadowing jobs on the public's radar. Public attention to news about rising gas prices, already quite high, increased markedly in early April - fully 58% paid very close attention to reports on the high price of gasoline, compared with 36% who followed the recent attacks on Americans in Iraq very closely. 

Read the full report After Falluja - Support for War Steady, But Bush Job Ratings Slip on the Pew Research Center Web site.

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