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Owens Ends Term With High Approval; Bush Low

October 11, 2006
Analysis by Floyd Ciruli

Governor Bill Owens moves toward the end of his gubernatorial term with a 60 percent voter approval – a strong finish to his eight years, which conclude in January 2007.

The latest statewide Ciruli Associates poll shows President George W. Bush has only 40 percent job approval among Colorado voters, mirroring current national polls.  Bush’ position is weak for helping Republican Party candidates as they face difficult midterm elections


Ciruli Associates, N500, 2006

Question: Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way that Bill Owens is handling his job as governor of Colorado?

Question: Do you approve or disapprove of the job President George W. Bush is doing?

The statewide survey was conducted by Ciruli Associates with 500 likely Colorado voters from September 26 to October 2, 2006.  The political questions were part of a survey concerning economic development sponsored by the Economic Developers’ Council of Colorado.  The statistical range of error is ±4.4 percentage points.  This analysis is the sole responsibility of Ciruli Associates.

Owens and Bush Began Terms With Positive Approval
Owens, who considered Bush a mentor, has often enjoyed better approval ratings than the President.  In a Ciruli Associates survey conducted shortly after Bush’s first election, Owens received a higher job approval than Bush, even though the President began his term in positive territory.

Ciruli Associates, N452, June 2001

Question: Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?

Question: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bill Owens is handling his job as governor?

Bush Approval no Help to Colorado Republicans
Bush has been a powerful and effective advocate for his party.  President Bush, more than most recent presidents, assisted congressional and senate candidates, both tactically and in his willingness to lend his popularity on the campaign trail.  His approval soared to the 80 percent level after 9/11 and remained above 60 percent for many months.  It began to drop precipitously as the war in Iraq dragged on and crossed into negative territory in 2004; it has remained there consistently in all of 2006.


Ciruli Associates, 2006

Question:  Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?

A job approval rating below 50 percent is considered in negative territory.  Low approval weakens presidential clout in Washington and reduces the president’s usefulness to the party in elections.  President Bush’s job approval ratings improved toward the end of September.  But last week has been especially difficult for the Bush Administration and national Republican Party.  The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) controversy, Bob Woodard’s book criticizing the war in Iraq and the Foley scandal have caused the President’s approval to decline yet again.

Gallup Polls of Presidential Job Approval
in 2006

























Although Bush has repeatedly visited Colorado and raised significant funds for candidates, including Rick O’Donnell running in the 7th Congressional District and most recently Beauprez, compared to the 2002 midterm when he and the War on Terror were popular, Bush is now on the political defensive and can offer little help, and indeed, could hurt Republicans running today.

Bill Owens’ Legacy
Owens’ approval has remained relatively stable during his term.  Unfortunately for Owens, his final high job approval rating does not reflect his party’s fortunes, which have declined mightily since the 2004 election when Republicans lost both houses of the Colorado Legislature for the first time in more than four decades, as well as U.S. Senate and House seats.  Current polling shows Republicans are behind in their races to retain the governorship and the very competitive 7th Congressional District.  Hence, Owens may leave office with personal popularity and a policy legacy, but with his party in tatters.

  • Ciruli Associates is a non-partisan research firm providing polling, election analysis and political commentary to Colorado and national media organizations since 1976.

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