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Inside Politics

Poll: Iraqi elections give Bush boost

George W. Bush

(CNN) -- The Iraqi elections that went "better than expected" produced a bump in President Bush's approval rating, according to the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll.

Between January 14 and 16, 51 percent of survey participants expressed approval of Bush's performance as president. But 57 percent of the 1,010 respondents surveyed Friday through Sunday stated that they approved of how the he does his job.

The margin of error for the telephone survey of all adults is plus or minus three percentage points.

Last week, 40 percent of participants said they disapproved of Bush's handling of his job, and 3 percent of the people stated they did not have an opinion.

While the responses to some questions -- like how the president is handling the economy and Social Security --- remained within the margin of error or unchanged from a January 7 poll to the one last week -- the most significant changes appeared on issues related to Iraq.

In the January 7 survey, 42 percent of respondents said they approved of how Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, and 56 percent expressed dissatisfaction. But, last week Bush gained 8 percentage points in his approval rating, with 50 percent giving him a nod and 48 percent disapproving.

On the question of whether sending U.S. troops to Iraq was a mistake, 52 percent said "yes" and 47 percent said "no" during the week of January 14. But last week, the numbers flipped with 45 percent saying "yes" and 55 percent saying "no."

In the February poll, the majority of respondents, 61 percent, said that the Iraqi elections went "better than expected," and 31 percent felt it was "about as expected." And a similar number, 57 percent, said it should be a high or top U.S. priority to support the growth of democratic governments. Forty-two percent said it should be a low priority or not one at all.

Between January 7 and last week's poll, opinions remained almost unchanged on Bush's performance on Social Security, the economy and foreign affairs.

  • Last month, 41 percent were satisfied with how Bush is handling Social Security and 52 percent were not. Last week 43 percent approved, and 48 did not.
  • On the economy, 50 percent approved in January and last week.
  • Forty-seven percent approved of Bush's foreign policy work last month, and 51 percent gave him the nod last week.
  • During January, 53 percent said Social Security had major problems and 18 percent labeled it in crisis. Last week, 55 percent said the retirement benefit system had major problems, and 17 percent said it was in crisis.

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