WASHINGTON — Six months before Republicans try to hold on to control of Congress in the fall elections, a new poll shows President Bush has slid to the lowest approval rating of his presidency, and a majority of voters say they'll vote for Democrats in November.
A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday found Bush's approval rating at 34%, two points under his previous low. He also received the lowest ratings of his presidency on his handling of the economy, energy and foreign affairs. He tied his previous low on Iraq: 32%.
The poll showed Democrats leading 54%-39% among registered voters who were asked which party they would prefer in a congressional race.
POLL RESULTS:Text of all questions, responses
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the president is not focused on polls but "on achieving results for the American people."
A spokesman for the House Republicans' campaign committee, Carl Forti, said unhappiness with Bush doesn't doom the GOP's 29-seat House majority because "President Bush is not on the ballot."
Forti also noted that the poll showed 59% of respondents said their own representative deserves to be re-elected. However, poll data show that's the lowest percentage since 1994, when Republicans won control of Congress from the Democrats.
Sarah Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said voters are linking Bush's problems to his GOP colleagues: "The American people want change."
Since 1950, there have been six times when presidents had Gallup approval ratings below 50% in the spring as their party sought to keep control of Congress. The president's party lost House seats in all six years, ranging from five in 1968 to 54 in 1994.
A 15-seat switch in November would give the Democrats a majority in the House. A six-seat switch would give Democrats control of the Senate.
The poll comes as the Iraq war and a sharp increase in gasoline prices have contributed to public uneasiness.
Bush has repeatedly said he does not pay attention to opinion polls. At a fundraiser last week for Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., he said he wants congressional colleagues "who don't listen to polls and focus groups but stand strong for what they think we're doing right."