Washington — Americans approve of President Bush's performance in office, but they don't necessarily agree with his priorities or see him as someone who understands their problems, a poll says.
About six in 10, or 63 percent, in the ABC-Washington Post poll approved of the job Bush is doing, while 32 percent disapproved.
The public has doubts about Bush's priorities, however. By a 2-1 margin, those polled said Bush is more interested in holding down the size of government than in providing needed services. By the same margin, they thought it was more important to provide needed services than to hold down the size of government.
Just under half 47 percent of the survey respondents thought Bush understands their problems while 51 percent said he doesn't.
Some of the best news for the president came in the easing fears of recession evident in this poll. People were about evenly split over prospect of a recession. A month ago, nearly six in 10 thought a recession was on the way.
By a 2-1 margin, people thought the president cares more about protecting large corporations than about ordinary working people. And by 6-1, he was seen as more interested in economic growth and oil exploration than in environmental protection. Most said environmental protection is more important to them.
"You can admire the way a guy's doing his job, without necessarily loving where he's coming from," said Gary Langer, ABC News director of polling. "The danger is it doesn't leave you with a reservoir of good will if times get tough."
The poll of 1,350 adults was taken Thursday through Sunday and has an error margin of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.