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          Front Page




51% Give Bush Negative Rating

By Jeff Jones
Copyright 2006 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Politics Writer
    About half of New Mexico voters give President Bush a thumbs-down on his job performance, according to a new Journal poll that mirrors national opinion.
    The poll found that 51 percent of the New Mexico voters surveyed disapproved of the two-term Republican president's performance. Thirty-eight percent approved of his job performance while 11 percent had mixed feelings.




    Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc., which conducted the poll, said Bush's approval rating among voters in New Mexico tracks with national polling.
    Mark Peceny, chairman of the University of New Mexico political science department, said the war in Iraq is a big reason for Bush's rating.
    "Increasingly, the public does not believe that war in Iraq is directly relevant to the broader war on terror— and they see no end in sight to the U.S. occupation," Peceny said.
    "Historically, when presidents have used force, there is initially a 'rally around the flag' effect when public support increases," he said. "But over time, as the war drags on, support almost always declines— for the president and for the war."
    Bush carried New Mexico over Democrat John Kerry in 2004 with a nearly 6,000-vote advantage.
    The new Journal poll found opinions on how well the president is doing his job closely follow party lines: 73 percent of Republicans backed his performance while 74 percent of Democrats disapproved.
    "We see tremendous polarization in attitudes," Sanderoff said.
    Approval of Bush's job performance was highest on the conservative east side of the state, where 57 percent of the voters said they approved.
    The negative rating was highest in the Democratic stronghold of north-central New Mexico, where two-thirds disapproved.
    The disapproval rate for the president in the Albuquerque metropolitan area, the state's population center, was 52 percent.
    Sanderoff said Bush enjoyed support from a significant number of Hispanic voters in the successful 2004 re-election bid. But the Journal poll found 59 percent of Hispanics now disapprove of the job he is doing while 29 percent approve.
    "His Hispanic support has eroded," Sanderoff said.
    Peceny said he believes another factor in the president's approval rating is a perception among many that the federal government did not effectively respond to Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the Gulf Coast a year ago.
    He added that, historically, other presidents have slipped in popularity the longer they are in office.
    "Presidents are judged, at least in part ... on questions of war and peace. They're judged on responses to natural disasters. And the performance of the Bush administration has not been strong on those dimensions in recent times," Peceny said.
    The margin of error for the statewide sample of registered voters, who said they are likely to vote in the Nov. 7 general election, is plus or minus 5 percentage points.