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Poll: Bush, Democratic Congress both failures

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: 57 percent say Bush presidency a failure; 55 percent say Dem Congress is
  • NEW: Respondents have more confidence in Democrats to deal with problems
  • NEW: Confidence in Democrats has fallen from 54 to 48 percent since November
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Americans think both President Bush and the Democratic Congress have been failures so far this year, but they still tend to put more confidence in the Democrats.

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President Bush and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi talk at a ceremony in July.

In a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Wednesday, 57 percent of those questioned say that Bush's presidency has been a failure; 55 percent say the Democrat-controlled Congress has been a failure as well.

Democrats won back Congress in last year's midterm elections. They have a slim majority in the Senate and a 30-seat advantage in the House of Representatives.

Frustration with the war in Iraq was considered one of the main reasons for the Democrats' victory last November. But so far, congressional Democrats have failed to alter the president's course of action in Iraq.

The issue will come to a head again when Congress reconvenes in September.

"The public clearly doesn't like what it sees coming out of Washington these days," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

But Congress has achieved some successes. Lawmakers passed a lobbying and ethics reform bill, a package of security measures recommended by the 9/11 Commission, a raise in the minimum wage, and an increase in federal funding for embryonic stem cells, which Bush vetoed.

Congress also is expected to complete final action in September on an increase in health insurance for underprivileged children and student loan reform.

The poll holds some good news for Democrats: By a 48 percent to 35 percent margin, Americans say they have more confidence in the Democrats than in Bush to deal with the major issues facing the country today.

"The good news for the Democrats is that Americans still have more confidence in them than in Bush," Holland said. "The bad news is that the number of people who have more confidence in the Democrats has dropped since last year, and is now under 50 percent."

President Bush's approval rating is mired in the mid-30s, but what exactly do Americans dislike about him? Is it a reaction to him personally or is it his stands on the issues?

According to the poll, it's definitely the latter.

Just 35 percent say they agree with Bush on the issues that matter the most, but 46 percent have a positive view of Bush's personal qualities and leadership skills. And since 2006, the view of Bush's personal qualities has gone up while positive views of him on the issues have dropped significantly.

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"What's really hurt Bush's standing with the public is his record on the issues," Holland said. "Since 2001, the number of Americans who agree with him on the issues has plummeted 14 points. By contrast, the number of people who have a positive view of his personal characteristics has only dropped eight points -- not a great track record, but nothing like the dissatisfaction with Bush on the issues."

The poll, conducted from August 6-8, interviewed 1,029 Americans and carries a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percentage points. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

All About George W. Bush

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