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Honeymoon's over: Bush's approval rating drops

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush's approval rating has dropped from its honeymoon high amid rising concerns about the country's energy situation, but rising gas prices and West Coast blackouts are not the only reason for the decline in Bush's numbers, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

Bush's job approval stands at 53 percent, compared to 62 percent last month, according to the poll.

At the same time, 58 percent of Americans now say that the energy situation in the country is very serious, a dramatic rise from early March when just 31 percent felt that way. Nearly half say that rising gas prices have hurt their family's finances, and a majority now believes that high gas prices are here to stay.

Eight-three percent predict gas prices will be even higher a month from now -- although only 38 percent forecast higher prices six months down the road.

Has the country's energy situation affected Bush's approval rating? It depends on which groups you look at.

Bush's decline was high among independents, suburbanites and parents -- all groups that have grown significantly more worried about energy.

On the other hand, energy worries peaked among Midwesterners, but Bush suffered only a modest drop in that part of the country, and his approval rating suffered most among 18-to-29-year-olds, who are notably less concerned about energy.

The bottom line: Energy is probably a part of story, but many other factors likely played a part in the drop in Bush's rating. The last poll was taken shortly after the return of the 24 U.S. crew members held by China, and good feelings from that incident may have faded in the past few weeks.

In addition, post-inaugural honeymoons rarely last. The real question is whether this is a temporary dip in Bush's support or the start of a longer-term trend -- particularly among independents and suburban voters.

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,005 adults nationwide. The poll, conducted May 7-9, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

How Bush is handling his job as president

 NowApril

Approve53%62%
Disapprove3329

Energy situation in U.S.
 
Very serious58%
Fairly serious36
Not serious4

Energy situation in U.S. is very serious
 
Now58%
March31

Rising gas prices caused hardship for your family?

  Last
 NowYear

Yes47%36%
No5364

Will rising gas prices cause you to drive less this summer?

  Last
 NowYear

Yes58% 41%
No4157

U.S. should emphasize ...
 
Energy conservation47%
Energy production35

Solutions to energy problem

 FavorOppose

Solar/wind power91%6%
New power plants 8313
New electrical lines 6923
New gas pipelines 6429

Favor increased energy efficiency in ...
 
Appliances87%
New buildings86
Cars85

Increased use of nuclear power
 
Favor 48%
Oppose44

Drilling for gas on federal lands
 
Favor 63%
Oppose33

Oil exploration in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
 
Favor 38%
Oppose57





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