WASHINGTON - President Bush has been given his lowest approval rating yet from the American public, and Congress has reached its previous low point, according to a new Associated Press-Ipsos poll.
Only 30 percent of those surveyed said they liked the job Bush is doing, and his support by Republicans reached an all-time low. Congress's approval fell to just 22 percent, equaling its poorest grade in the survey. Both marks dropped by four percentage points since early January.
The dour public mood seems to chiefly reflect distress over the doddering economy, which has seen job cuts, financial market slides, and real estate losses stoke recession fears.
Bush's approval for handling the economy dove to 29 percent, a slide of four percentage points in a month, matching his low on that issue, with noticeable slumps among middle-income people, Southerners, and city residents.
"He's spent billions of dollars on the war, and the economy here is suffering," said Ron Brathwaite, 41, a Democrat from Brooklyn, N.Y., who was interviewed in the poll. "If you're leading this country, you should start fixing within this country."
Bush and Congress have been overshadowed in recent months by a presidential campaign in which both parties' candidates have emphasized how they would change Washington - an implicit criticism of the president and the Democratic-led Congress.
Even the leading Republican contenders have spent little time defending Bush, though they haven't attacked him frequently because he remains popular within the GOP.
Yet Bush's acceptance by his own party is at bottom in the AP-Ipsos poll. Just 61 percent of Republicans gave Bush positive reviews; his previous low was 65 percent last month. Only 28 percent of them expressed strong approval.
About one in 10 Democrats and three in 10 independents gave Bush positive marks.
Bush's previous overall low in the AP-Ipsos poll came in November when his approval rating was 31 percent. His current level is essentially even with that.
Congress also hit 22 percent in October. It usually has lower ratings than the president because it is an institution people love to criticize.