President Bush rates higher in polls after war

Friday, May 2, 2003

WASHINGTON -- President Bush emerged from the war with Iraq with higher poll ratings, especially in areas such as handling the war, terrorism and homeland security, a new poll suggests. He appears, however, to have significant vulnerability on domestic issues, including the economy.

The ABC-Washington Post poll released Thursday shows Bush's overall job approval at 71 percent. Approval of the way he deals with security issues was slightly higher, with about three-fourths approving.

Approval of his handling of domestic issues is sharply lower, with about half approving of his handling of the economy, taxes, Social Security and the environment. Just over four in 10 approved of his handling of the budget and prescription drugs and a third approve of him on health care.

The public was more likely to trust him, rather than Democrats, on the economy. Respondents are overwhelmingly more likely to trust him on Iraq, terrorism and homeland security.

The country leans toward optimism in this poll, a trend that could be helpful if it continues. Six in 10 say problems with the economy are not Bush's fault. Still, half say he is not spending enough time on the economy.

Three-fourths of those surveyed said Bush is a strong leader, but they were evenly split on whether he understands the problems of people like them. People were more than twice as likely to prefer government spending on programs like education, health care and Social Security to tax cuts.

The poll of 1,105 adults was taken April 27-30 and has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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