Public support for President Bush has fallen in recent weeks, led by eroding confidence in his energy and environmental policies as well as growing concern about the direction he and the Republican Party are leading the country, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The president's overall job approval rating stands at 55%, down 8 percentage points since late April. Of the last nine presidents, only two--Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton--had lower ratings at similar points in their presidencies.
With the Senate now in the hands of the Democrats, the survey found that most Americans say Bush should stop aggressively promoting his legislative agenda and instead should compromise on energy policy, patients' rights, Social Security and other leading issues.
And, public confidence in congressional Democrats is on the rise. Five weeks ago, nearly half--46%--of those interviewed in the Post-ABC poll said the country should "go in the direction Bush wants to lead it," while 36% expressed more confidence in congressional Democrats.
Democrats now hold a 42%-40% poll lead over the president on the question of who should set the nation's policy agenda.
On his $1.35-trillion tax cut, 58% approved of the way Bush handled the issue. But an even larger majority said they would rather he had spent the money on other popular federal programs.
The poll interviewed 1,004 randomly selected adults May 31 to June 3. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.