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Iraq doubts keep Bush's popularity on the slide
George Bush's popularity fell to a new low yesterday in a poll which suggests that there is an increasing level of scepticism about the motives for the Iraq invasion and rising concern about its consequences.
Nearly 80% of the Americans questioned in the poll for the New York Times and CBS news thought he had been either "hiding something" or "mostly lying" in his statements on Iraq.
Only 18% believed that he had told the "entire truth".
The figures show a dramatic collapse in the White House's credibility, in the absence of evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass production or of a substantial link between the Saddam Hussein regime and al-Qaida.
Mr Bush and his vice-president, Dick Cheney, have both insisted in recent days that such a link existed, in defiance of the finding by the bipartisan commission investigating the September 11 attacks that there had been no "collaborative relationship".
The poll shows that the president's popularity has eroded steadily since its peak after the September 11 attacks, despite a brief spike after the Iraq invasion.
Only 42% of Americans said they thought Mr Bush was doing a good job, the lowest figure recorded by the New York Times/CBS poll since the beginning of the presidency. Fifty-one per cent disapproved of his performance.
The results suggest that the Iraq invasion could yet prove fatal to his presidency.
Despite White House assurances to the contrary, 47% of those asked thought that the threat of terrorism against the US had increased since the war began, and 55% said the war was creating more anti-American terrorists.
Only 13% thought America was safer as a result of the invasion.
A poll published yesterday by CNN, Gallup and USA Today confirmed the pessimistic mood, four months before the election. It found that 60% believed the transfer of sovereignty to Iraqi leaders on Monday was a symptom of "US policy failure".
But the Democratic presidential challenger, John Kerry, still shows no sign of translating his opponents' woes into solid support. Only 29% of those asked in the New York Times poll had a favourable opinion of the senator, compared with 35% who said they did not think much of him.
The net result is that the presidential race remains a dead heat, both nationally and in the swing states.