Bush’s poll numbers rebounding

A successful Iraq election and an improved domestic economic outlook have lifted U.S. President George W. Bush’s job-approval rating to its highest level since March, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Monday.

Forty-seven percent of Americans now approve of Bush’s job performance, up from Bush’s all-time low approval rating of 39 percent in November and the president’s best showing since March when it was 50 percent, ABC said.

Struggling with low popularity ratings and wide public discontent with the war, Bush last month launched an aggressive campaign to bolster American support for the U.S. mission in Iraq and shore up his standing.

Bush outlined the administration’s Iraq strategy in a series of speeches and interviews and, in an Oval Office address on Sunday, appealed to Americans to not give up on Iraq.

The poll, conducted from Thursday through Sunday, found approval of Bush’s handling of the situation in Iraq up by 10 points from November to 46 percent.

Seventy-one percent said the Iraqi elections have moved the United States closer to the day U.S. forces can be withdrawn, the poll said. Fifty-four percent expressed optimism about Iraq in the year ahead, eight points more than at this time last year.

Despite five speeches devoted to Iraq since November 30, 60 percent of Americans said the president has not done enough to explain the reasons the United States is in Iraq, according to the poll.

With gasoline prices down by 86 cents a gallon from their mid-September peak, 45 percent of Americans were positive about the economy, a 10-point gain since November.

The telephone poll of 1,003 adults was conducted December 15-18 and has a three-point margin of error.