Washington Angry conservatives are driving the approval ratings of President Bush and the GOP-led Congress to dismal new lows, according to an AP-Ipsos poll that underscores why Republicans fear an Election Day massacre.
Six months out, the intensity of opposition to Bush and Congress has climbed sharply, along with the percentage of Americans who think the nation is on the wrong track.
The AP-Ipsos poll also suggests that Democratic voters are far more motivated than Republicans. Elections in the middle of a president's term traditionally favor the party whose core supporters are the most energized.
This week's survey of 1,000 adults, including 865 registered voters, found:
¢ Just 33 percent of the public approves of Bush's job performance, the lowest of his presidency. That compares with 36 percent approval in early April. Forty-five percent of self-described conservatives now disapprove of the president.
¢ Just one-fourth of the public approves of the job Congress is doing, a new low in AP-Ipsos polling and down 5 percentage points since last month. A whopping 65 percent of conservatives disapprove of Congress.
¢ A majority of Americans say they want Democrats rather than Republicans to control Congress (51 percent to 34 percent). That's the largest gap recorded by AP-Ipsos since Bush took office. Even 31 percent of conservatives want Republicans out of power.
¢ The souring of the nation's mood has accelerated the last three months, with the percentage of people describing the nation on the wrong track rising 12 points to a new high of 73 percent. Six of 10 conservatives say America is headed in the wrong direction.
Republican strategists said the party would lose control of Congress unless the environment changed unexpectedly.
"It's going to take some events of significance to turn this around," GOP pollster Whit Ayres said. "I don't think at this point you can talk your way back from those sorts of ratings."
He said the party needed concrete progress in Iraq and action in Congress on immigration, lobbying reform and tax cuts.
"Those things would give the country a sense that Washington has heard the people and is responding in a way that will give conservatives a sense that their concerns are being addressed," Ayres said.
Conservative voters blame the White House and Congress for runaway government spending, illegal immigration and lack of action on social issues such as a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage. Those concerns come on top of public worries about Iraq, the economy and gasoline prices.