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Survey: national Bush opinion mirrored at UA

By Ariel Serafin
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, November 28, 2005
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Student opinion at the UA regarding President Bush's performance thus far mirrors national trends that show college students are rating the president at all-time historic lows.

A recent poll by Harvard University's Institute of Politics found that college students, like most Americans, rate Bush at the lowest point in his presidency, with about 41 percent of college students saying they approve of his performance.

Out of the students polled in the Harvard survey, 62 percent said they support withdrawing some or all of the troops from Iraq, and 58 percent said they feel the country is headed down the "wrong track."

To find out the UA's stance, staff members of the Arizona Daily Wildcat handed out surveys to about 200 students over the last two weeks, asking them to rate the president on a scale from 1-10, whether they approve of his performance and how they felt about the war in Iraq. The sampling includes random students and members from Greek Life, the UA College Republicans and the UA Young Democrats.

The results follow the trends of the national consensus, with 42.6 percent of UA students saying they approve of president's performance so far, and 60.4 percent saying they disagree with the decision to invade Iraq.

When students were asked to rank Bush's overall presidency on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best, the average student gave a score of 4.96. Twenty-seven of the students gave Bush a score of 1 and two students gave him a score of 10.

One anonymous respondent refused to rank Bush's performance on a scale of 1-10, writing, "I do not advocate scales measuring war criminals and terrorists."

Survey Results

Do you approve of President Bush's performance so far?
Yes: 42.6%
No: 57.4%
How would you rate his overall presidency so far? (1= worst, 10=best)
Average score: 4.96
Do you approve of Bush's decision to invade Iraq?
Yes: 39.6%
No: 60.4%

*Not all respondents answered all of the questions.

Another student wrote they felt action needed to be taken against the terrorists and Bush's choice was a viable option. Instead of focusing on getting Bush out of office or dwelling on difference of opinions, the student wrote, "People should focus their attention on finding a better solution" because "now it's just a question of how to best resolve the situation."

The reasons behind these conflicting opinions are not all the same, with many giving different explanations behind their feelings on Bush and the country's involvement in the war on terror. Kyle Gale, secretary of the Young Democrats, said he marked that he doesn't approve of Bush's performance because he thinks the president inadequately planned for the entering of Iraq and has created an "out of control" fiscal policy.

"For the most part, on the big issues, he's not leading the country in the right direction," said Gale, an economics sophomore.

But given the assortment of disasters that have occurred during Bush's terms, like the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks and Hurricane Katrina, students like Mary Whitney Wheaton said he's handled his presidency well.

"I think he did a good job in the situation he was put in," said Wheaton, a psychology sophomore.

When it comes to the war in Iraq, College Republican Ashley Boyd said she thought Bush made the right choice when he decided to invade because it's the United States' job to teach and lead other countries.

"They needed help and they needed our help," said Boyd, a communication junior. "I don't think doing nothing about (terrorism) was going to get anyone anywhere."

But Gale said he didn't agree with Bush's decision to invade Iraq, and was disappointed in how he thought the president misled the public and planned for the war poorly.

"I think that primarily the war in Iraq is not going well," Gale said. "(Bush) didn't have a good plan and we're suffering the consequences."

Pierre Abi-ad, a communication senior, said he thinks the most prominent factor in Bush's drop in popularity isn't the public's perception but rather the president's deception.

"The way he misled the American public to believe there should be a war in Iraq without a doubt (lowered his popularity,)" Abi-ad said.

While some students blame Bush's low approval ratings on his poor performance, others said they think the low support results from issues beyond the president's control, such as the public forgetting the principles the U.S. tries to uphold.

"A couple of years ago, people were focusing on the fact we are fighting for justice," Wheaton said. "Now that it's been going on for a while, people think about the war itself and forget the reason we got into it in the first place."

Boyd agreed that Bush's popularity was based less on his performance than on outside factors such as the media.

"I think a lot of it just due to bad press," Boyd said. "The little things that (conservative presidents) do are blown out of proportion."

Boyd attributed Bush's dip in approval to something simpler.

"Popularity always goes down at some point," Boyd said. "You can't please everybody."

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