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Public to Bush: You're Out of Touch!

The new Washington Post poll has another boatload of bad news for the Bushies. A matchup of Bush with a generic Democrat gives him only a one point lead (48 percent to 47 percent). And in head-to-head matchups with specific Democrats, his lead has shrunk substantially since mid-September, particularly over John Kerry, where his lead has gone from 15 to just 6 points.

On the approval ratings front, his overall approval rating has gone slightly up, rather than slightly down, as in the recent Gallup and Quinnipiac University polls. However, consistent with other public polls, his approval rating on Iraq has slipped to net negative (47 percent approval/51 percent disapproval) from net positive in mid-September.

But from the standpoint of the Bush administration, the most disturbing approval findings may be these. His approval rating on taxes has slipped to a net rating of -12 points (41 percent approval/53 percent disapproval) from a 48 percent/48 percent split in mid-September. When you’ve got a net negative rating on your signature domestic issue, that’s very bad news indeed.

And when you look at two other key domestic areas, both of which seem likely to figure in the 2004 campaign, his ratings are beyond the merely bad: 32 percent approval/61 percent disapproval on the federal budget deficit and 28 percent approval/63 percent disapproval on the cost, availability and coverage of health insurance.

Turning to the war, the news here, as in other recent polls, is not good–in fact, terrible–for the Bush administration. At this point, 62 percent say the number of US military casualties in Iraq is unacceptable. That’s up from 28 percent on April 9. And the number opposing the additional $87 billion for Iraq is up to 64 percent, with only 34 percent in favor.

On the economy, the findings are equally daunting for the Rove team. For example, when asked whether most Americans are better off financially than they were in 2001 when Bush became president, just 9 percent (!) say Americans are better off, compared to 49 percent who say they are not as well off and 41 percent who say they are about the same. The comparable figures for Poppa Bush in October of 1991: 7 percent better off, 48 percent not as well off, 41 percent the same. Eerily similar, no?

And when asked how they themselves are doing financially during the Bush presidency, 22 percent say they are better off, 27 percent say not as well off and 50 percent say about the same. Again the analogous figures for Bush pere are almost identical: 20 percent better off, 27 percent not as well off and 53 percent the same.

Finally, DR’s favorite finding from the entire poll: Only 40 percent now say that Bush “understands the problems of people like you”, compared to 58 percent who think he does not. Sounds like folks think he’s out of touch. Say, didn’t they think that about some other president not so long ago?



So you say "donkey rising," and Zell Miller says "donkey about to keel over and die." Considering that there's a very real chance the Dems will have fewer than 40 senators by 2006, I don't see much rising going on.

Maybe Teixeira is the out of touch one?

Those are devastating numbers. I think the Christmas season is going to be his last chance for a turnaround before moderate GOPers in Congress abandon him this Spring. However, I don't think the administration is ideologically adaptive. They're literally going to try to run out the clock with some fancy ball handling and hope the new Texas districts and a couple Senate pickups come through next November.

Will they beat their moderates into ideological compliance? Will they try for another tax cut? More Iraq money? God, I hope so. Ruy, we've got to know more about how this Texas redistricting effort might sort out time wise. Are all these centrist/conservative Dems doomed? If so, when (and will the districts produce the sort of conservatives, would-be Speaker DeLay is anticipating)?


There's only so much to be gained by appealing to a motivated voting minority. The GOP has been masterful at it. How Roger, Karl, Dick, George, Grover, Tom D, and Newt have managed to rule from the fringe should be a case study in future political science courses. I'd be willing to bet on a Republican hegemony were it truly based on issues based more on inclusion than divide-and-conquer.

It will be a sad day when/if Dems have 40 or less seats in the Senate. But perhaps that's what is needed to let independent and disaffected voters get a real feel for what the GOP "Gang of Seven" is all about.


I just don't get all this "emerging democratic majority" and "donkey rising" stuff. By what I'm reading, GOP is going to pick up 2 governorships tomorrow (KY, MS) and retain another (LA). To paraphrase a recent Tom Daschle quote re Du(m)bya, I don't know how much more of this rising the donkey can take. And I don't pin it all on your gang of seven. They're excellent strategists, yes, but the Dems are simple out of constructive ideas and the GOP has tons of them. Sez me anyway, but what the hell do I know.

or Anybody,

The one # I cannot figure out in just about every poll is dubya's approval rating. His policies are tanking in every significant category yet he still remains in the low to mid 50s. What is the disconnect? Bush is president but doesn't have anything to do with the actual job?

Really curios in AZ

BC: It's not actually that baffling. If you look at the Post's detailed breakdown, it's pretty clear that the remaining support comes down to one thing: Sept. 11 and the overall fight against terrorism (as opposed to Iraq). Bush's approval is still above 60 percent there, and people consider this very important. It's true that Bush's overall job approval numbers are down to below what they were before Sept. 11, 2001, but I think it's safe to say that the economy alone would have driven them much lower than that.

Note that this terror-war-approval number has been slooowly, gradually dropping over the past two years, and the decline shows no sign of a halt. But I'd hate to see the stuff happen that would cause it to drop precipitiously. I'd rather see the Democrats gain public credibility on the issue, so that people don't continue to think of Bush as the only candidate who can protect them from terrorists.

Matt, what Dem senators are you expecting to see go so that the GOP will get up to 61 by 2007 ( you said 2006, but I assume you really mean 2007 since there will be no new senators sworn in in 2006 unless some retire or die mid-term)?

I see losing Graham, Edwards, Miller, Breaux, and Hollings to retirement in 2004. Fitzgerald's seat is a very likely pickup. That will leave 45 unless there is some extermely unlikely pickup for the R's. That assumes that D's don't pick up any potentially vulnerable seats in AL, AK, CO, KY, MO, OK, or PA and don't hold any southern seats at all (except AR).

In 2006 Dems would need to lose six seats to match your prediction. I just don't see where R's can make that kind of gain. Why don't you show us?


With a weak presidential candidate next year, Dems could be down to 43 senate seats from their current 48 (losing the seats you mention in GA, LA, SC, NC, FL). All in the South...ouch.

It's still a long way off, but the Republican seats you label vulnerable may not be as soft as you'd like. Recall the 2002 Senate races were a virtual GOP sweep, and that was in a midterm election. Really, even another seat or two on top of those 5 we've mentioned could put Dems down to 41 or 42. Not hard from there to get down to 39 in one more election.

I meant by the 2006 elections, of course. The senators would take their seats in Jan 2007.

Trying to be realistic here. If Dems throw Dean in there, they'd be lucky to walk out of the 2004 elections with 45 senators, and 41 or 42 seems more likely.

Don't shoot the messenger...

How to Save Social Security and Beat Bush in 2004

On Bush and taxes, here's a plank for Clark's platform: Abolish the cap on the Social Security payroll tax.

Other Democratic presidential candidates are talking about how much of the Bush tax cuts they would roll back. That’s silly. It puts them in a reactive mode – against the Bush program – instead of offering a proactive program of their own.

Clark should promise to let the Bush tax cuts stand. Let the high earners keep the low income tax brackets Dubya has given them. And let middle class and low earners keep the few bucks Dubya has given them.

BUT apply the social security (FICA) pay roll tax to all income. Right now the FICA tax stops after about the first $80,000 of earned income. Apply it to ALL earned income.

The Treasury will get a big boost to help with the boomers’ retirement, save social security, and get rid of the deficit. And this new revenue stream will come from high earners making over $80,000 per year.

Take the case of a CEO who earns $10,080,000 a year. The $10,000,000 on which he had not previously paid the FICA tax will yield the Treasury $1,500,000. That’s because the FICA is roughly a 15% tax, half borne by the employee and half by the employer.

But give the CEO no more social security benefits when he retires than are received by his $80,000 per year employee.

Extending the FICA tax to ALL earned income will much more than offset the Bush tax cuts. Bush moved the CEO in the above example from a 39% to a 38% marginal income bracket (with more cuts to come in later years). Adding the employee’s 7% plus share of the FICA tax will move the CEO to, in effect, a 45% tax bracket.

Meanwhile, folks earning under $80,000 are untouched and get to keep the tax cuts Bush gave them.

It's a much better plan than Dean's. He calls for taking away the tax cut Bush gave the middle class.

This is a plan that is fair because it says everybody should pay the same percentage of their income to support the Social Security System. It can even be sold on Republican principles as a “flat tax.” Right now the FICA tax is terribly regressive, with most people paying 7.5% but a $400,000 earner paying just 1.5% (because of the $80,000 cap the $400,000 earner pays one fifth as high a percentage as the $80,000 earner).

Clark can win the Democrats with this idea. It’s a fair, “flat” tax that will hurt no Democratic constituency and not strangle the economic recovery since it falls only on high earners with high disposable income. It’s anti-Bush and pro-Social-Security. What could be a better campaign platform for the Democrats in 2004?

Lets see, Bush is in trouble in South Carolina, Tennessee, Pensylvania, New Hampshire, Florida, and a host of other "secure" Republican States. Republican Congressmen are so worried about Bush's prospects that they are beginning to revolt. And the entire world opposes our invasion of Iraq.

And you people want me to believe that the Democratic Party is in trouble of fading. The Republican Party is going to crash and burn in the streets of New York in September of 2004.

Why would anybody trust Bush on National Security when the Survivers of 9/11 denounce him. Just wait, it will happen.

Re why Bush overall numbers haven't tanked yet: take a look at


All presidents after Eisenhower have seen their numbers converge on %50 approval at this point in their presidency. Weird! Take another look in about three months - if W is in the 40s by then, he is toasted. Which he should be, on "accomplishments", already.

BTW emerging whosis majority? Republican? Democrat? Read american history - these triumphant "majorities" never last very long. Even the Great Democratic Majority of FDR unfortunately was bolstered by Dixiecrats. Who now of course vote Republican. W has gone a long way toward destroying the Reagan coalition, by alientating the Military and therefore to a certain extent, the south.
Don't look for the Ultimate Triumph of Our Guys, whoever you think that is. Look for the re-alignments - that's where the policy is!

The URL for this site MUST change, its a farking joke.

If Papa Bush had similar numbers to Baby Bush, give me the candidate that looks most like Clinton. Maybe I should be watching old Bill's speeches instead of following what these candidates have to say for themselves.

For what it's worth, I agree with Lawrence: the system is set up such that one party never dominates forever; they just shift positions and alliances such that the split falls back toward fifty-fifty. The country as a whole shifts ideologically, but there's a great strategic restoring force in the partisan split.

Now, the one thing that might change this and bring about a true one-party state would be widespread and extreme corruption in the electoral process, which is why it's so important to be vigilant about that.

Excuse me, I have to go vote...

I have found now, that the more Bush speaks the less I'm willing to listen to him. The last speech he made I changed the channel before he ever took the podium. The announcer said, "President Bush to speak, possibly about Iraq, in two to three minutes." I was surprised at my response considering I...yes, I voted for him.

Bush talks, I change the channel because he has nothing to say worth listening too anymore. In my book, he is a non-issue. He and his barons have marginalized themselves and I'm looking for a new leader.

We progressive types are celebrating the fact that Bush's poll numbers have come down to earth. But when you look at how looney or just plain evil the administration's policies are, and how stupid or ignorant the man at the top sounds every time he opens his mouth, I despair at the fact that his approval rating is even in double digits. I used to wonder if the way my dog experienced conscious existence at all resembled the way I experience it. (Picture the world as seen through the eyes of the pet dog on Rugrats.) I'm beginning to wonder the same thing about "Red America."

OK Ruy, now the Dems are down to 21 governorships, and GOP governors sit in the statehouses of the 4 largest states in the union (Calif., Tex., NY., Fla.). They hold only 205 House seats to the GOPs 229. They hold 48 senate seats to the GOP's 51, and that's likely to drop by a big chunk next year to somewhere between 42-44. Their presidential candidates are pathetic (loved the debate last night, which focused on whether Howard Dean is a bigot for saying something about the Confederate Flag -- glad the candidates are tackling the tough issues).

When exactly is this Democratic Majority supposed to emerge? It looks like a rudderless, idealess, deflated party with no raison d'etre from here. If you've got some solutions, let's hear them. But the title of your book and blog simply sound delusional.


You're right -- in addition to being delusional, "Donkey Rising" makes it sound like the donkey's getting an erection. Or floating off into outer space. It's something the Onion would've named a fictitious Democratic website.

MattG, read the book. I'll summarize so you don't hector the boards with your comments.

The emerging majority is projected, not automatic, (though highly likely, IMO) and is based on demographics, so it will emerge over a period of time, which ranges from 0 to 15 years. Basically, the Repub party is only growing with white people, esp. males, and that is a statistically declining demographic. The growing demos are all those which have in the past and currently side with Dem positions, and, to a somewhat lesser degree, Dem party ID.

New Democratic party strategies to capitalize on this would be effective now, of course......but these things take time to develop. So 2004-2008 may or may not be harvest-able. It will improve with time. That doesn't at all mean '04 is out of reach. (though the south is)

I confess I haven't read the book (yet). But what concerns me about the demographics is that if the growth of the Dems' natural constituencies is concentrated in places like CA and NY, it won't help much unless those states far outpace the south in population growth and are allocated more electoral votes.

I too believe in an emerging Democratic majority, but it will be due to a crisis like the Depression that results in an electoral reallignment - either an economic crisis brought on by the Bush deficits or an environmental crisis resulting from global climate change. Unfortunately, in either circumstances the reallignment won't be worth the cost.

It's not concentrated just in NY and CA. Do a search on the web for an article about the book, it's easy to find.

In fact, I'd bet that Texas will be solidly Dem - but that one could take 25 years. Look at the pop numbers.

Depression? You're right, a depression would swing voters left. As might a so-far unseen tipping point in the number of uninsured. But I don't at all see any kind of such massive depressive events on the horizon, deficitwise or environmentally. People have forecast gloom before.....many times


Do you remember where the republican party was in 1979 in regard to the governor, house, and senate numbers you just cited? They were much worse off.

And keep in mind that no republican presidential candidate has gotten more votes than the democratic candidate since 1988...

I repeat: Bush has pulled off a political miracle - he has aliented the Armed Forces from the republican party!

Lawrence nails it.

Q -"Do you approve of Mr Bush's foreign policy i.e. premption?
A - No. I think it's the wrong direction.

Q - Do you approve of his domestic policies i.e. raising the deficit?
A - No. I think it's the wrong direction.

Q - But you approve of the job he's doing?
A - Absolutely

Q- You don't the direction he's taking you, but still like him. Why?
A - He's a strong leader!

Q - Sir. You are a passenger on a bus that you realize is being driven off a cliff, but you DO approve of the drivers posture, and the way he's keeping his hands safely on the wheel at the 10 & 2 positions.