WASHINGTON — In the waning months of his eight-year administration, President Bush is receiving low marks from Tennesseans, with just 37 percent saying he has done an “excellent” or “good” job, according to a statewide poll.
Forty-three percent of poll respondents said President Bush has done a “poor” job, and 19 percent gave him a “fair” rating.
Those numbers reflect President Bush’s low popularity nationwide, particularly as the financial crisis in the credit markets hit fever pitch this past week, said Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc., which conducted the poll.
“That probably pulled down his numbers some,” Mr. Coker said. “The numbers might vary 10 to 15 points, depending on whether you’re polling a Blue State or a Red State, but it’s pretty consistent. Those (approval) numbers were a lot higher in his first term.”
A similar Times Free Press poll in November 2006 found 47 percent of Tennesseans rating President Bush “excellent” or “good,” while an October 2004 poll had 58 percent in those two categories.
The poll of 625 registered and likely Tennessee voters, conducted Sept. 22-24, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.
But even with President Bush’s declining approval ratings, Tennesseans favor Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., over Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.
Even though respondents to a statewide poll indicated they favor GOP presidential nominee John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, most gave Republican President George Bush only a “fair” or “poor” performance rating.
* Excellent: 8 percent
* Good: 29 percent
* Fair: 19 percent
* Poor: 43 percent
* Undecided: 1 percent
Source: Sept. 22-24 survey of 625 registered and likely Tennessee voters by Mason-Dixson Polling & Research Inc. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent.
“Despite the Democrats’ natural efforts to link McCain to Bush, he’s not really a part of this administration,” said Ed Cromer, editor of the nonpartisan Tennessee Journal, a statewide political newsletter.
“I think McCain’s status as a war hero helps him in a lot of the state, and there are a lot of veterans in Tennessee,” Mr. Cromer said. “In a lot of the states, especially in rural areas, voters have a problem connecting with Obama.”
Just 3 percent of Democrats said they were satisfied with President Bush’s job performance, according to the poll, compared to 78 percent of Republicans. Among independents, President Bush registered a 35 percent approval rating, the poll shows.
South Pittsburg, Tenn., resident and poll respondent Doris Dorim, 70, who identified herself as a Democrat, called President Bush “the dumbest president we’ve ever had.”
“I think he’s done some bad things for our country,” she said. “For one thing, all this financial mess that we’re in. No oversight. And the Iraq War, I think that was a terrible mistake. We shouldn’t be there. As I remember, he went into this election saying we couldn’t dictate to the world, and yet here we are, trying to tell them how to live.”
But Johnson City, Tenn., resident Steve Lusk, 59, a self-identified Republican who is retired from the military, gave President Bush an “excellent” rating, saying the news media has distorted his record.
“I think he’s done outstanding,” Mr. Lusk said. “He has done everything he said he would, contrary to what the media says. He said he would solve the problem in Iraq, and he did. He said he would stabilize the economy, and he did. It’s the news media flipping around what he’s done to make him look bad.”