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Bush’s First Sub-50 Approval Rating!

And it’s even in a Republican poll!! (DR doesn’t count the recent Zogby sub-50 reading, because they ask the approval question differently.) In the just-released Winston Group/New Models poll for the House GOP conference, W’s approval rating clocks in at 49 percent, with 46 percent disapproval. How sweet it is.

The poll also gives the Democrats a 5 point lead (45 percent to 40 percent) in a generic Congressional ballot question. If Karl Rove wasn’t nervous before, he might be starting to break a sweat.

More on That Post Poll

Yesterday, DR reviewed the latest Washington Post/ABC poll, which had a lot of very interesting findings in it. Jusiper also has some useful comments on the poll, highlighting Bush’s anomalously high approval ratings on education (56 percent) and the environment (51 percent). Jusiper is right to flag these ratings (though they don’t exactly mean that the public "favors" Bush on these issues), because they suggest missed Democratic opportunities. These are issues where the public tends to favor Democrats over Republicans by wide margins and where the Bush administration has performed miserably. So, how come his ratings in these areas aren’t in the tank along with his economy, health care and budget ratings?

Basically because the public doesn’t yet associate the administration’s failures in these areas with Bush personally. That’s work that needs to be done. By rights, Bush should be carrying net negative ratings in both these areas and with a bit of effort DR thinks we can get him there. Leave no Bush rating behind!

So Does the Public Really Think Saddam Was Behind 9/11?

Depends on how you ask the question. As reported in a recent Washington Post story, when asked whether it was likely Saddam "was personally involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks", 69 percent said it was very or somewhat likely.

But that figure’s pretty soft. A much better question fielded by the Program on International Policy Attitudes asked for the "best description of the relationship between the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein and the terrorist group al-Qaeda". Here are the responses: 7 percent said there was no connection at all; 31 percent said a few al-Quada individuals visited Iraq or had contact with Iraqi officials; 35 percent said Iraq gave substantial support to al-Qaeda but was not involved in the 9/11 attacks; and just 21 percent endorsed the idea that Iraq was directly involved in carrying out the 9/11 attacks.

In other words, only about a fifth of Americans really seem to believe that Saddam was involved in 9/11. That level of belief is bad enough, Lord knows, since there’s zero evidence that he was, despite the pronouncements of the apparently completely mad Dick Cheney. But it’s better than 7 in 10.