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Poll: Dim View Of Bush, GOP

President Bush and the Republican Congress show nearly record low ratings while Democrats are viewed much more favorably in their performance on the issues that matter most to Americans, according to the latest CBS News/New York Times poll.

Only 31% of those polled approve of Mr. Bush's job performance and 68% believe the United States is worse off today than it was before Mr. Bush became president.

Personal evaluations of Mr. Bush are the lowest they've ever been during his presidency. On the public's confidence in Mr. Bush's ability to handle a crisis, 51% had been the previous low in September 2005. That figure is now at 50%. The President's handling of the Hurricane Katrina crisis is tied to that decrease.

There is also concern that Mr. Bush is spending too much time on foreign policy issues: 55% think so. Also, on the issues that are most important to Americans, Iraq and gas prices, Mr. Bush's ratings have dropped.

On handling the issue of rising gas prices, Mr. Bush's performance rating dropped four percentage points from what it was a month ago (from 17% to 13%).

With the Iraq war, Mr. Bush's approval rating dropped one percentage point (from 30% to 29%) since last month. Similarly, only 30% of poll respondents said they have some degree of confidence Mr. Bush will be able to end the war successfully. The poll also reveals that 56% of those polled said that United States should have stayed out of Iraq; this number is the highest it's been since the start of the war.

The only area where Mr. Bush's approval rating is not at an all-time low is fighting terror: approval is at 46%.

Congressional Republicans get an eviscerating review in this poll. The GOP gets a favorability rating of 37%, exactly 20 percentage points lower than where it was in 1994. Inversely, Democrats in Congress had a favorability rating increase of 11 percentage points over what it was in 1994.

On the issues of Iraq and gas prices, the poll shows that the public believes Democrats are doing a better job. For instance, on Iraq, 48% said the Democratic Party is better while only 30% thought the Republican Party is. On keeping gas prices low, the disparity is even more pronounced: 57% say the Democrats perform better, while only 11% say the Republicans do.

Democrats also surpass Republicans in their work on issues such as prescription drug cots, improving health care and immigration, among others.

However, Republicans get a better assessment than Democrats in dealing with terrorism: 40% prefer the GOP's handling of the issue while 35% prefer the Democratic Party's.

The overall approval of Congress' performance has diminished vastly since 2001; only 23% approve now while 67% did in 2001. This figure reflects frustration over Congress' ability to challenge the President since 67% think Congress does not question his policies enough.

Also, 39% say that Congress would be in better condition today if Democrats were in charge, an increase from last month.

Heading into the 2006 elections, Democrats look to have quite an advantage. For instance, if the elections were held today, 44% of registered voters said they would support the Democratic candidate in their congressional districts, while only 33% would support the GOP candidate.

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