President George W. Bush's approval rating has risen to 44 percent � his highest rating in a year � while only 51 percent now say they "disapprove� of his job performance, a new USA Today/Gallup Poll reveals.
Bush�s approval rating was as low as 31 percent in May and 37 percent as recently as Aug. 7-10.
The rating has risen largely on the strength of increased support from Republicans � 86 percent said they approve of his performance, compared with 70 percent in May.
The upswing in approval comes amid falling gas prices and a two-week drive by the president to highlight his administration's efforts to fight terrorism.
The new findings reflect "a consistent, persistent, tenacious effort to make . . . the Republican Party's ability to deal with terrorism the No. 1 issue in the campaign," political scientist Richard Eichenberg of Tufts University told USA Today.
In the new poll, slightly more than a quarter of respondents said Iraq is their top concern going into this fall�s elections; 19 percent cited terrorism and 18 percent chose economic conditions.
But for the first time since December 2005, a majority of people did not say the war in Iraq was a mistake; the split was 49 percent to 49 percent.
Other results of the poll reported in USA Today:
A 55 percent to 42 percent majority said they supported Bush�s terrorist surveillance program, the policy of wiretapping phone conversations between U.S. citizens here and suspected terrorists abroad without obtaining a court order.