Elon University Poll: Public lacks trust in Congress, Bush

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A majority of residents in the southeastern United States disapprove of the way President George W. Bush handles his job, according to the latest Elon University Poll, and nearly the same percentage of people indicated little or no confidence in Congress.

The poll, conducted Nov. 4-8 and 12-14 by the Elon University Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, surveyed 1,374 residents from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents disapprove or strongly disapprove of the way Bush is handling his job as president. Fifty-six percent disapprove or strongly disapprove of the way he is handling the economy, while 63 percent disapprove or strongly disapprove of his management of the war in Iraq.

Fifty-three percent said they lack confidence in Congress, though overall, poll respondents said they trusted the Democrats there more than they do Bush (44 percent to 32 percent) to do a better job addressing the issues facing the nation within the next year. Fifteen percent say neither can be trusted to do a good job.

“Citizens are clearly frustrated with both branches of government,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll. “But, at least in these states, it appears they blame the president more than Congress for problems in Washington.”

Poll respondents were divided on whether the Iraq war has protected the United States: 42 percent think it has made the nation less safe, while 38 percent think the war has made the nation safer from terrorism.  Fifty-two percent said the United States should no longer be in Iraq, compared to 43 percent who support a military presence there.

Fifty-three percent support setting a timetable by the beginning of 2009, and 57 percent support doing so by summer of 2008.  More than half of respondents (52 percent) feel the war with Iraq was not worth fighting, and 40 percent say it was worth it.

“When you consider the military presence in these five southern states, then see the opposition to the war from their residents, it should carry added significance in Washington,” said Bacot.