03/24/2005 - The American public is not happy with the nation’s political leadership. President Bush’s approval rating remains below 50 percent and just 39 percent approve of the job performance of Republican congressional leaders. Despite the paltry ratings for GOP leaders, however, Democrats have failed to benefit. The public has about the same low regard for the job performance of Democratic leaders as for the Republicans (37 percent approval).
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted March 17-21, 2005, among 1,505 Americans, finds that Democrats have increasingly soured on the performance of their own party’s congressional leaders. Democrats’ approval of the party’s leadership stands at 56 percent; by contrast, fully three-quarters of rank-and-file Republicans (76 percent ) have a positive view of their party’s congressional leaders. About a year ago, 63 percent of Democrats approved of the performance of Democratic congressional leaders.
The public, like Congress, is deeply divided over the issues at the top of the legislative agenda. Support for President Bush’s goal of private investment accounts in Social Security remains well below its level in December. Currently, 44 percent approve of the idea, compared with 46 percent last month and 54 percent in December. Support for the idea among younger Americans – who up to this point had been the most reliable backers of the proposal – has weakened significantly. Americans also are split over an administration-backed plan to permit oil and gas drilling in the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; 46 percent oppose that plan, while 42 percent favor it.