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Death Knell for the Bush "Bounce"

Last week, DR commented skeptically on reports that Bush’s popularity was enjoying a bounce or rally. Those reports didn’t seem justified when one looked across the range of data available at the time–not just the one poll (Gallup) that did show Bush’s approval rating going up.

This week, additional data have come in that suggest the Bush bounce may have been no more than a blip in Gallup’s data. Zogby released a poll on October 20 that had Bush’s job performance rating at 49 percent positive/51 percent negative, down from 50 percent positive/49 percent negative on September 22-24.

The Winston Group, a Republican polling firm, released a poll for the Senate GOP conference, also on October 20, that had Bush’s job approval rating at 50 percent, down from 51 percent in their previous survey.

Even the Republican polls aren’t cooperating. R.I.P., Bush bounce.


Ruy, excellent job with the blog and excellent job with your work in general. I'm a big believer that the blogs have become the progressive's talk radio, and you adding your voice is a good thing. I also noticed you are working with the Center for Progress, another good thing, I can't wait to see how this big push back by the Democrats works out.

Now on to Bush's poll numbers, one big question, does any of this matter, do you really think the country will swing too far one way or the other? From what I can see we are a country divided, and Bush's poll numbers just help prove the point.

In response to comments from "jbou," the numbers certainly do matter in the context of the approaching presidential election. The United States might be a politically divided country, but that division exists primarily among partisans on either side. Those in the middle, the so-called swing voters, are the ones who make a difference in a tight election. Bush is losing ground. His policies are not resonating with people. His leadership is suspect. The "likeability" factor is revealing itself as exactly what it is: marketing. The polls simply reflect this phenomenon. Bush has demonstrated that he has no inclination to adjust his hard-line neoconservatism in any substantive way. The PR efforts aimed at soothing the masses and downplaying the radicalism of his agenda are losing their effectiveness through overuse. This will matter in 2004. And don't forget, Bush actually lost the election last time around. Moderates, center-left voters and liberal partisans haven't forgotten this. We're ACHING for the chance to correct this abortion of Democracy.

I'm with Jbou... great work Ruy! Though one thing I never see you address in your entries here or your articles on Tom Paine is how the electronic voting machines figure into this. As I'm sure you well know, during the last election in Georgia, there were quite a few "surprises" that the polls didn't account for. What does this do for any plans to unseat Bush in the next election?

Also, these polls are reflective of the fickle nature of Americans. We saw Bush running sky high numbers at the beginning of the Iraqi invasion. What's to say an "October surprise" couldn't give a repeat of those numbers? Furthermore, the democratic party seems to have a difficult time getting many of its core constituents to the polls on election day. It doesn't matter how many working poor families might support the policies of the democrats if they don't get out on election day to vote. The continuing fight for the soul and future of the democratic party (centrist, progressive, etc.) seems to add to this conundrum. How does this square with the emerging democratic majority?

I'm inclined to agre with HK, these numbers do matter and I also agree that the democratic base does not want a repEAt of the Nader Left Fiasco of 2000. It appears, at least as of late, that bush has seen no good news in the numbers. I'm a bit torn though, I hate to see all these union members on strike all over the country and I hope they find some relief. (ONCE AGAIN PARDON MY CAPS LOCK #!@%$) ON THE OTHER HAND AS LONG AS THE ECONOMY IS UNRESPONSIVE TO THE BUSH SO CALLED "ECONOMIC STIMULOUS PLAN" IT SHOULD CONTINUE TO LOOK GOOD FOR THE DEMS. THINGS ARE PRETTY TOUGH ON WORKING FAMILIES HERE IN THE MID WEST AND IT LOOKS THE SAME ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. THERE IS TOO MUCH SUFFERING IN THE WORLD.

R.I.P. bounce- drive a steak through its heart and sever its head, just to make sure.

What interests me is the trend -- essentially we have now is essentially a 5-6 months downward trend in Bush-Cheney approval numbers anounting to 10-12 points, now hanging somewhere around the mid-point or a little under.

I assume Bush's base (those who would never change their allegiance) is somewhere in the mid 30's meaning that his approval will never go below that number no matter what he does. So what do we know about that part of the spectrum that are not actually part of the base, but still give approval to Bush when polled?

I am looking for relevant history -- in what other instances has a President experienced this kind of long downward trend? A year out from an election? When and under what circumstances has a downward trend plateaued? reversed itself? What sectors of the electorate lead these changes.

Got to second this motion...or perhaps you have a persuasive reason for why this issue should not be addressed?

(the copy and paste didn't work)

the issue I refer to is that of the voting machines and the potential for fraud, posted by Eric @ 2:00 PM

While it's true that the poll numbers don't show any kind of bounce, the numbers do suggest that the dramatic decline has seemed to have stalled at about the 50% point. It seems there was indeed a big plunge directly after Bush's request for $87B for Iraq, but that slide seems to have ceased.

My guess is that Bush is now once again in the mode of very slow erosion in support, but, if so, that'll take a good while to become evident.

The good news for Democrats is that there seems to be no likely piece of news that will pick up Bush's numbers. Bush has no solutions for Iraq or for the economy, and so I don't see how anything is going to turn around here for Bush.

One way to think about the Bush "bounce" is that it's really a bounce in the first derivative.

CBS poll shows Bush approval 3 point rise to 54 (from 51), Bush versus generic D changing to 46-34 (from 44-44).

Maybe a bounce, maybe not.


Time for pie.

Hey, frankly0, that would make a good talking point for Bush-supporting pundits: his approval ratings are concave up! Well, OK, it wouldn't be such a good way to spin things :) Ah, calculus humor.

A first-derivative bounce - love it!

Seriously, though, isn't this what we'd expect? This is still pretty much a 50/50 country. (I expect the next election to be close, either way, with any candidate.)

For Bush's approval to continue falling means cutting into his base, more or less the people who voted for him in 2000. As Rumsfeld might say, that will be a long, hard slog.

-- Rick Robinson