Poll Analysis: Bush’s First 100 Days
As George W. Bush finishes his first 100 days in office, the American public gives him a thumbs up for the way he is handling his job and the economy.
Nearly 3 out five Americans approve of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president, 33% disapprove and 10% are undecided. Californians give the president a decent grade, but not as high as the rest of the country. More than half of Californians (54%) think Bush is handling his job well, 32% disapprove. In comparison, 64% of Midwesterners, 63% of Westerners and 55% of Southerners approve of Bush's job performance. However, Easterners' support is tepid 47% approve, while 43% disapprove. His job rating is similar to past presidents at this juncture of their presidencies. Bill Clinton had a 55% job rating and 58% for George H.W. Bush. Ronald Reagan had a stronger showing at 67%, but that was after an assassination attempt on his life. Nationally, men and women feel the same way about Bush and give him high marks so far in his presidency, compared to California where there is a gender gap. There is also an income gap in California, but not nationally.
|Less than $40K||56%||33%||44%||37%|
The public also approves of the way Bush is handling the nation's economy (52% approve, 32% disapprove and 16% are not sure). However, less than half of Californians (48%) approve of Bush's handling the economy, as do 47% of those living on the East Coast. The other regions of the country give Bush solid marks in this category.
However, he doesn't fare well when it comes to handling the environment. The country is virtually split about his job performance in this category 41% approve, while another 38% disapprove, 21% are not sure. But regionally, there are distinctions. Easterners are not happy with Bush's environmental stance: 29% approve and 52% disapprove. The Pacific states specifically, are more disapproving of the president's stance on the environment than the Midwest, South and the Mountain states.
Easterners -- 29% approve of the way Bush is handling his job on the environment; 52% disapprove
Midwesterners -- 45% approve, 33% disapprove
Southerners -- 46% approve, 35% disapprove
Westerners -- 43% approve, 33% disapprove
Oregon -- 41% approve, 46% disapprove
California -- 33% approve, 42% disapprove
Washington -- 33% approve, 49% disapprove
Alaska and the Mountain States give Bush solid marks for his environmental performance.
Alaska -- 55% approve, 27% disapprove
Mountain States -- 43% approve, 33% disapprove
In this poll, 13% of the nation's public mentioned environment as the most important problem facing our country today (the third top mentioned problem after economy at 27% and education and crime each at 15%). In a Times poll taken last month, only 3% cited the environment as a problem and in January 1998, only 2% gave that as a response. Surprisingly, only 7% in California mentioned the environment as an important issue. However energy issues are more important for Californians (19% mention some form of energy, such as deregulation, gas, utility costs), while it was only mentioned by 9%, nationally.
Although environment, overall, has become more of an issue, the American public doesn't believe that environmental issues should be the top priority of the Bush administration, instead it should be one of the most important issues to be addressed. About one in seven Americans say it should be a top priority, but a hefty 73% say it should be an important issue, but not the top priority. Only 10% say the environment is not an important issue.
Another vulnerability for Bush on the environment is the perception by the American people that he cares more about the needs of business over the environment than the other way around. And he is also seen as one who will do little in protecting the environment. Knowing the negative press the president is getting on his environmental decisions, the Bush administration has upheld some of Clinton's environmental regulations, including a rule that increases protection of wetlands and another that greatly expands the list of businesses that must tell the public details of their emissions of lead into the air, soil and water. Even with this pro-environmental stance, the public still believes he is upholding these regulations not because of his concern for the environment, but for purely political reasons.
Protect the Environment
Concerned about Environment/Political Reasons
|Concerned about Environment||22%||21%|
About half of all Americans are concerned that Bush will go too far in allowing development and exploration of natural resources in wilderness land. In the Pacific region, 55% of Californians, 52% of Oregonians and 57% of Washingtonians are concerned that Bush will go too far, while 54% of Alaskans express little or no concern. People residing in the Mountain states are divided over this, 48%--44%. Also Easterners, are more concerned than their regional counterparts. Almost two thirds of Easterners are concerned about Bush's proclivity toward business and development and exploration in the country's wilderness lands. The other regions of the country are more ambivalent about this.
One of Bush's campaign themes was to explore the possibility of opening up Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling. The president and his administration say the country needs to do whatever it can to expand oil supplies. However, opponents say it would damage the environment in an unspoiled part of the country. Fifty-five percent of respondents are opposed to opening up this wildlife refuge for drilling even if it would supply enough oil to fuel U.S. consumption for between six months and three years. A third would approve of this idea. (Alaskans approve of this overwhelmingly 65%).