Continuing a slow but steady decline since the beginning of the “war on terror,” President Bush’s approval ratings have nearly fallen to the level they were prior to Sept. 11.
A poll by the Gallup Organization on Jan. 12 placed Bush’s ratings at 58 percent, their lowest point since September 2001, when the ratings skyrocketed up to 90 percent. However, Bush’s approval ratings still have not dropped to the level they were before the Sept. 11 attack, 54 percent.
Prof. John Brehm of the University of Chicago political science department said there are some obvious explanations for Bush’s low approval ratings prior to the attack.
“The economy was in tough shape, the tax cut was widely seen as benefiting a very small group at the expense of a balanced budget, and he had a slew of unpopular people in powerful positions around him,” Brehm said.
But, Bush’s approval rating skyrocketed after Sept. 11 most likely because of his quick and effective response, Brehm said.
“Bush was a very visible and effective leader. The attack on the Taliban was swift and their collapse even more so,” Brehm said.
A graph of Bush’s approval ratings throughout his term shows that, after the initial spike to 90 percent, his approval ratings have shown a steady drop. The most probable reason for this, Brehm said, is that none of the factors existing before Sept. 11 have really changed.
“My read is that Bush gained significant support solely for his response to Sept. 11, but hasn’t done anything to win widespread approval since, and this slide is inevitable,” he said.
The American public, showing a steady decline in support for their leader, have a number of concerns for the present state and future of their country, said University political science Prof. Paul Huth.
Huth said the falling approval ratings might be caused by “continuing doubts of the Bush administration’s ability to turn the economy around.”
Also, Huth said Americans probably feel a lack of support for the administration’s plan of action in the Middle East.
“The American public may feel the administration is moving too hastily toward a decision to initiate a military invasion,” he said.
LSA sophomore Lance Betway said he feels Americans are recognizing the threat of war and are choosing to show their disapproval of the Bush administration.
“The voice of those who have sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and friends who can potentially be sent off to die is finally loud enough to compare with the constant roar of those with the money,” he said.