A strong majority of Americans oppose changing U.S. Senate rules to make it easier for Republicans to confirm President Bush’s judicial nominees, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll published on Tuesday.

The poll found 66 percent of respondents opposed a possible rule change to eliminate procedural roadblocks known as filibusters against judicial nominees, while 26 percent supported the idea.

Nearly half of Republicans surveyed in the poll were against any rule changes, along with eight in 10 Democrats and seven in 10 independents.

Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell said on Sunday Republicans had the votes to pass the “nuclear option,” a rule change to eliminate filibusters that Democrats have used to block some of Bush’s most controversial judicial nominees. Fifty-one votes would be needed in the 100-member Senate to ban judicial filibusters.

If Republicans eliminate the judicial filibuster, Democrats vow to retaliate by tying the Senate in procedural knots, slowing action on matters they consider nonessential.

Support for Bush’s proposal to add private accounts to the Social Security retirement program dropped to 45 percent in the latest poll from 56 percent in mid-March. Fifty-one percent now oppose the accounts, up from 41 percent in March.

Bush’s overall job approval rating was 47 percent, matching his all-time low in Washington Post-ABC News polls, while half disapproved of his performance.

The president’s ratings on other major issues were at or near new lows, the poll found. Less than half of respondents supported Bush’s handling of the economy, energy policy and Iraq.

The telephone poll of 1,007 people was conducted from last Thursday to Sunday, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 points.