President's Rating Drops

THE continuing commitment of United States forces in the Persian Gulf and increasing concerns about a slumping economy have begun to take their toll on President Bush's popularity, according to a New York Times-CBS News Poll published Sunday. The poll of 960 adults found economic concerns at their highest level in a decade and Bush's overall job rating the worst of his presidency, although that rating remains higher than that of other recent presidents at the same point in their administrations.

The latest survey, conducted Monday through Wednesday of last week, showed 60 percent of respondents approved of the way Bush was handling his job, down from the 76 percent recorded in a similar Times-CBS poll taken in August. The number of those who disapproved increased 15 percentage points from August to 30 percent, the highest disapproval rating of the Bush presidency thus far.

There was a dramatic drop in approval of Bush among citizens 65 and over, whose general economic concerns were aggravated by proposals to narrow the federal budget deficit by raising taxes and Medicare premiums.

Approval of Bush's handling of the Iraq crisis declined from 75 percent just after the Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait to 57 percent.

The Times said the figures in the survey were considered highly likely to represent the sentiments of the nation's adult population to within 3 percentage points.

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