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The Times They Are A'Changin'

Several recent polls provide a wealth of information about how the political terrain is shifting against Bush and the GOP.

Start with the latest Pew Research Center poll. According to this poll, Bush's favorability rating has dropped from 72 percent last April to 53 percent today. And, when respondents were asked to supply a one word description of Bush, they were evenly split (36-36) between those who supplied negative or positive descriptions. That compares to almost a 2:1 split (52-27) in favor of positive descriptions last May. And the most common negative description today? “Liar”, which nobody even mentioned last May.

Bush's approval rating in the poll has fallen to 48 percent (down 8 points since mid-January), the lowest Pew has ever recorded. His approval rating in the last month has dropped has dropped 9 points among white women, 10 points among those 30-49 years of age, 11 points among women under 50, 11 points among white Catholics (a critical swing group), 12 points among high school graduates, 12 points among white non-evangelical protestants and 16 points among those in rural areas.

The Pew poll has Kerry and Bush tied in a trial heat question (47-47), while other current polls show Kerry ahead, but this is still quite a shift from Pew's mid-January poll, when Bush was ahead by 11 points (52-41) in a matchup with Kerry. Republicans haven't budged in the last month, while Democrats have consolidated behind Kerry in the trial heat question and independents have dramatically shifted away from Bush, going from 52-37 Bush to 51-41 Kerry, a swing of 25 points. Similarly, political moderates have gone from 49-43 Bush to 55-39 Kerry, a shift of 22 points.

Another huge shift has been among white non-evangelical protestants, who have gone from 57-36 Bush to 49-46 Kerry, a swing of 24 points. It's also interesting to note that Bush's current lead over Kerry among white men is 16 points--believe it or not, a sign of weakness. In 2000, Bush beat Gore by 24 points among this group.

Big shifts among independents can also be seen in changing evaluations of the political parties. Last June, independents gave the Democratic party a 55 percent favorable evaulation and the Republican party a 54 percent favorable rating. Now 65 percent of independents rate the Democratic party favorably, compared to just 50 percent favorable for the Republicans. And it is entirely because of this shift among independents that the overall public now rates the Democrats more favorably than the Republicans (58 percent to 52 percent).

It's also intriguing to note that independents rate the state of Massachusetts (76 percent favorable) more highly than the state of Texas (70 percent). Hmmm.

More on the shifting political terrain tomorrow.....


Alright, between the few posts, it is becoming clear that Ruy is simply carrying water for Kerry. Democrats have NOT considated behind Kerry. Democrats are enjoying the benefits of an energetic race between two decent candidates. And there can be no doubt that all democrats are benefiting from the continuation of the race.

There is nothing wrong with having an oppinion that Kerry is the best candidate. But the recent posts have tried to mask this this oppinion as fact through the use of questionable assertions and selective use of polling data.

If the point of this blog is to serve as a meeting place for different views within the Party then it would seem that the threadmaster shouldmake a minor effort at pretending to keep an open mind until a nominee is selected. If this is just the blog of a Kerry supporter, thats fine, but the mission statement should change.

Anyway, its your blog, you can do what you want including campainging for Kerry. But you should realise that that is what you are doing. We all do.

Jon, your link does not provide access. Yahoo says you have no account there.

hi everybody, I've been off on the coast ignoring reality and watching the seabirds and ocean spray....but when I came back to work I had a pleasant surprise. My high school students have become vocal in their contempt for Bush. I know this is anecdotal and unscientific but it dovetails nicely with the shift in the culture that Ruy is showing us through polls. When my carfetish white (NASCAR son) 11th grader announces that "Bush is toast" a change must be in the air. I think the revelation that the WMD's were not there is hurting Bush a lot and I hope that all of the Democrats will start vociferously "outing" him on all of his lies.
I agree with jon and others who think that it is good for the Democrats to continue a compettition for the nomination. Both candidates benefit from the air time and it does give the Democrats opportunites to attack Bush. I'd like to see the competition go right up to the convention.

I like the Pew numbers. The trend does seem to be pretty healthy, and I am equally pleased the comedy programs have begun to poke some serious fun at Bush. I am convinced that psychologically jokes seal down changes of position or opinion. But questions...

Any sign at all that white evangelicals are shifting their position? I don't expect the majority to do so, but some small slice would be a good indication.

What do we know about Kerry's strength in African American communities? I know he was not first choice when we had nine candidates -- but is the process of consolidating around Kerry we see in various parts of the white community paralleled in the African American Community? How did he do in the African American community in Virginia and Tennessee?

We could be about to find out what capturing or killing bin Laden will do. Just finished going through the international press on the topic, and many (Singapore, Pakistan, India, China S. Africa and GB, and Bloomberg Service) have articles to the effect that he's been located within a 10 square mile area in a high mountain range North of Quetta in Pakistan. -- in the Topa Kakar range, peaks in the 10-11 thousand foot range. Pakistani Government is having a fight in their press over whether US Special Forces have been allowed into Pakistan (they say no, all the press reports say yes) and if he is caught, will Pakistan let the US have him. It's worth watching even though there have been many false promises before. Particularly interesting to see if it impacts any trends. If true, it may alter the trend and muddle the polls for a few weeks.

Rather off-topic, but I have a concern about an event that seems possible, or even likely, to occur before the election: the capture of Osama bin-Laden. I do not believe that this event should provide Bush with a sustained boost, but I fear that it will. Are we confident that Kerry and the Dems are prepared to deal with this should it occur? Politically, what is the most effective approach?

Just a quick comment at this point, mostly continuing the somewhat off topic discussion.

It does seem to me that the trends suggested by the Pew polls imply that, in the natural course of things, Bush has a very good chance of losing the election.

So I begin to worry about the unnatural course things may take instead, and the capture of Osama is one such potential event. The press about Osama being effectively trapped somewhere in Pakistan is one piece of evidence, which I might not take with any seriousness by itself, but a Republican Senator -- I think it was Grassley -- also said something that implied Osama would soon be caught (he asserted he had no inside knowledge to support this, but I doubt he'd admit it if he did). This is very similar to what was said by some Republican politicians directly before Saddam was caught.

Of course, should Saddam be caught at this time, the question will arise, why didn't this happen earlier? Did Bush's not so excellent adventure in Iraq prevent or distract our forces from pursuing and eliminating the real terrorist at the earliest possible date, allowing him perhaps to put into place further plans for terrorism that will haunt us in the future?

On the other hand, another potential event that I believe has a distinctly higher probability of turning out is one that could pretty well destroy Bush's chances: the indictment of major figures in the WH for their part in the Plame affair. Such an indictment would be destructive on a variety of fronts. It would of course suggest the criminality of major players in the WH, and Bush's insincerity in his pretense that he is an honest and honorable man who sought to root it out. It would show how dirty the Bush political operation really is, which would give the Dem nominee a great upper hand in the who's smearing whom argument. It would also demonstrate the utter hypocrisy of Bush and the Republicans when it comes to the use of patriotism to support their cause.

Now an interesting question is what would happen if BOTH events came about? I'd expect that the Osama capture would drown out Plame affair indictments, at least for a time, but it's hard to predict the ultimate overall effect.

oops, when I said, "Of course, should Saddam be caught at this time"

I meant OSAMA.

I guess I'm as confused as Bush.

I think the capture of Osama would have a lot more impact on people's tinking tan the capture of Saddam. bush is promoting the idea of himself as the war President in a war against terrorism and unfortunately no one seems willing to challege him on this. A few Democrats have suggested that he isn't fighting the right target but no one seems willing to suggest that it isn't possible to fight a military-style war against terrorism at all, that the very notion is ridiculous. The only way to fight terrorim effectively is to "fight " for hearts and minds. This alternative isn't being presented by anyone to my knowlegde This is another example of Democrats allowing Republicans to define the terms of the debate.
I wish Democrats would do three tigs; publicize Bush's failure to prevent the 911 attck, put Osama's capture in a law wnforcement context and express impatience that it hsn't happened yet, and promote the idea of a herats and minds victory in a competition, not a war, against terrorism.
Please excuse the typos. I'm preety astigmatic and i can't read the screen with any accuracy.

frankly, the commission which is investigating Plame is headed up by Lee Jean or something like that, who was a longtime Clinton foe and GOP hack. She knows what to do and what to say to get Cheney and Bush off the hook.

Sara, blacks went for Kerry in a big way in Tenn and Virginia. They helped him win. But I wonder if they will stay once the marriage amendment stuff starts up.