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New Polls Bring New Lows for Bush

Two new polls--one from Newsweek and the other from Time/CNN--have Bush hitting new lows in important ways.

First, the Newsweek poll. In this poll, Bush's overall approval rating is down to 42 percent, with 52 percent disapproval, his lowest rating yet in any public poll. (Note: Zogby also has his rating at 42 percent, but Zogby job ratings are based on a different question and are therefore not directly comparable with other public polls.) And Bush's approval rating on Iraq is down to 35 percent, with 57 percent disapproval, also a new low. Wow. It was just a few days ago that his Iraq rating went below 40 for the first time. Yes, the Bush campaign is on the move!

Bad as the Newsweek findings are for Bush, the findings from the CNN poll are probably worse. First, the poll finds Kerry ahead of Bush in practically every issue area, including protecting the environment (+22); health care (+19); reducing the deficit (+18); handling the economy (+13); and even taxes (+6). But here's the really significant part: besides these domestic issues, Kerry is also ahead of Bush on handling foreign policy (+2) and handling the situation in Iraq (+3). A couple of weeks ago, Bush had a healthy lead on handling Iraq; last week Bush had a small lead; this week, he's behind. Clearly the tide is turning.

And even on his "signature issue", as it were, handling the war on terrorism, he only has a 7 point lead over Kerry (49-42). I am quite sure that that is the smallest lead we have seen yet for Bush on this issue. If he loses a few more points and Kerry gains a few more, he and Kerry will be essentially tied on handling terrorism! I suspect that would get them kind of worried down at Bush-Cheney re-elect.

And here's more on Bush's declining terrorism advantage. According to the CNN poll, more people now think Bush is doing a poor job (47 percent) than think he is doing a good job (46 percent) on handling terrorism. Ouch. That's gotta hurt when you used to think that one issue guaranteed you re-election. (Note that this question isn't phrased as a typical job rating ("Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Bush is doing handling......"), so we can't really say his job rating on handling terrorism is now below 50. But, on the evidence of this question, I would not be surprised to see such a rating fairly soon.)

Turning to the horse race data, only one of the polls mentioned above, provides registered voter (RV) data--the Newsweek poll--and that poll has Kerry ahead of Bush, albeit by only a single point (46-45; though note that Kerry has a nice 7 point lead among independents). The CNN and Zogby polls both use the less desirable (in my view) likely voter (LV) approach and both have Kerry ahead by more--CNN by 5 (51-46) and Zogby also by 5 (47-42).

And here's something to chew on: in all three of these polls, the addition of Nader to the trial heat question does not reduce Kerry's margin, since Nader winds up drawing about equally from Kerry's and Bush's support. Interesting.


But what do you think will happen when June 30 comes and the US washes its hands of Iraq by means of the superficial handover of sovereignty?

Will the reporters go home? Will news reports on the debacle in Iraq dry up (like war reports in Afghanistan now)? Will that end the national attention on Iraq and cushion Bush's fall?

I wonder if Nader is drawing Republicans who can't bear to support a Democrat -- sort of a protest vote. His Reform Party endorsement probably helps that a little.

Of course when election day rolls around, I doubt they'll be motivated enough to go out and pull a lever for Nader.

Well, the current numbers certainly look good for Kerry when measured against past performances for incumbent presidents half a year before the election.

1964 JOHNSON-Goldwater: 59
1968 --
1972 NIXON-McGovern: 11
1976 Ford-CARTER: -6
1980 Carter-REAGAN: 8
1984 REAGAN-Mondale: 17
1988 --
1992 Bush-CLINTON: 6
1996 CLINTON-Dole: 14
2000 --
2004 Bush-Kerry: -6

Unfortunately, candidates have occasionally dug themselves out of deeper holes than this although no incumbent has ever managed the feat. In the spring of 1968, Nixon was trailing Hubert Humphrey by six points while the current moron's father was fourteen points behind Dukakis in 1988. Let's hope this election really *is* about the Administration's track record rather than about Kerry.
BTW, how could Kerry neutralize the Nader problem? By offering him a job in the Kerry Administration in case he is elected? At least Ralph should stay away from battleground states and only appear on the ballot in safely "blue" or "red" states...


If Bush does pull most of the troops out by July, and focus attention on the "economic recovery" and on the shameless 9/11 exploitation at the GOP convention, and on social issues, then these poll numbers don't mean a lot. They can change at any time. The only thing that say is that Rove is having a harder time figuring out what to do. The bad news against Bush is now very diverse and hitting from him all sides (even the tobacco farmers are turning against him!).

Hey, and don't forget that Bush's big "Let's go to Mars!" speech is coming up! That'll screw him for sure. I can already hear the comments:
"So, Mr. President, do you believe that you will find the weapons of mass destruction there?"

I can't wait.

I've been following the Zogby polls mainly because he was the most accurate during the last election. However, it's become quite interesting to see all (or most) of the polls showing something that makes me want to read all of them. That being, GWB's numbers tanking!!!!! Hopefully there isn't time for him to recover. I certainly believe we haven't seen the last of the other scandals (i.e. Plamegate, and 9/11 gate). There's too much going on for this guy to survive all the negatives.

Hopefully, I haven't jinxed this for Kerry by saying that.

Locally (Washington, DC) I listened to a political analyst on the way to work named Plotkin. He stated that traditionally people vote what they knew about the economy six months ago. I remember that from prior elections also. Other than voting machine fraud, I just don't see how Bush can survive all the heat put on him to date and going forward.

> But what do you think will happen when June 30
> comes and the US washes its hands of Iraq by
> means of the superficial handover of sovereignty?

Well, I think they need to pull the troops out of harm's way as well and I don't see that happening. As long as Americans are getting killed and as long as taxpayers (well, future generations of taxpayers -- "read my lips: no new taxes!") are being asked to foot the bill, I think Iraq will continue to be a liability. Besides, the dwindling but vocal neoconservative minority will scream like banshees if "Shrub" abandons the Great American Cause of creating democracy in Iraq. GOP voters and conservative pundits are grumbling a lot these days, but they still respect his "moral leadership" in the War on Terror. If "Shrub" starts backtracking on that crucial issue, what's left?

I am much more worried about the economy: wouldn't it be awful if the GNP and employment figures improved sufficiently for "Shrub" to squeak through in November? I hear the best guess is there won't be a sufficiently long string of good news for "Shrub" to use it effectively in his campaign, but nor will Kerry be able to use the data to his advantage. So it's most likely going to be a wash.

My greatest fear is Kerry will continue to stumble during and after the Demo convention when people finally start paying attention. That's when succcesful challengers such as Clinton and Reagan took off. Will Kerry prove appealing enough? I think he likely will, if the U.S. is in the same funk as it was during Carter's final months in office. But *if* the economy is doing acceptably and *if* Iraq/the Middle East is improving, I just don't see how he can win even if he is running a much better campaign than he is doing right now...


Kaus has been having much fun asking if it is too late for the Democrats to nominate someone other than Kerry. Maybe he should be asking if it is too late for the Republicans to nominate someone other than Bush?

I doubt many would compare Bush's skill as equal to Lyndon Johnson's (and I don't want to get too hopeful), but it appears that this one is heading where the 1968 election was going until Johnson retired.

TROOPS ARE NOT COMING HOME AFTER JUNE 30!!! I wonder just how many Americans are under the false impression that the "handover of sovereignty (to whom nobody knows) means that the troops will come home. If anything, troop numbers will be increasing over the next few months. If Americans are under the impression that we're pulling troops out this summer, they're going to be sorely disappointed and even angrier at Bush than they already are.

Please explain :/ re: lots of foreign ministers saying they will pull out if asked "(by who?) but...

Howard Fineman has an excellent column about Kerry in this week's NEWSWEEK. Summary of key points: Kerry isn't exciting, likeable or a "visionary" and he isn't even trying. But *if* "Shrub" manages to screw up Iraq & the War on Terror while mortgaging the future American economy in the process, who will be better positioned to benefit from it than John F. Kerry?

I think it's a good point. John Edwards would clearly be the best candidate if 2004 were are re-run of the 1992 elections, i.e. all about the economy and not about national security. But if the Dems want to win, they need somebody who can capitalize on the incumbent president's mistakes.


But politics is a game of comparison in which timing and context are all. And given where the war in Iraq is right now, the Kerry flips may matter less than where he flopped. In the new Gallup survey, Kerry and Bush are running neck and neck on the question of who can better handled the situation there. If the president can't handle it—and the doubts are growing—then what choice will voters have come November? Why not a guy with personal experience on a real battlefield who sounds like he can deal with the diplomats?

That’s the theory. And it’s one that Bush operatives are worried about more than they say. Their objective, of course, is to drive Kerry’s “negatives” beyond the “acceptability” range, but portraying his flip-flops as part of a larger problem: that he is somehow weak, and befuddled and, well, strange. “Troubling” is the word that Bush-Cheney ’04 has been using in TV ads.

But what really concerns Team Bush is their own man’s falling job-approval numbers. The rule of thumb: that overall figure is an almost exact predictor of an incumbent president’s actual vote. In the most recent Gallup survey, that number for Bush is 46 percent—the lowest of his presidency and a clear sign of danger. They take some comfort in the fact that Kerry hasn’t directly benefited. Indeed, the main beneficiary for now remains Ralph Nader, whose percentages in some polls are going up while those for Bush and Kerry show little or no movement.

The critical voters at the end will be the same ones they always are: undecided women. Many will be the now-classic “waitress moms,” single working women perhaps less concerned this year about the size of their paycheck than their children’s safety on this tumultuous, hate-filled planet. Who will better protect them? If the sheriff has made a mess of things, you might have to vote him out—even if he’s the one you’d rather see coming into the café.

Still want to know what a strategy would be if Bush DOES manage to run.

Isn't it only a matter of time before Bush's numbers hit the 30s? Then he will be totally at par with Carter in 1980. How did that election turn out?

I think that 40% threshold will sink Bush. Politics is about perception. There are still people in disbelief about his not "being popular." The GOP expected to campaign on his popularity. Now they have nothing. If he falls into the 30s, the realization will come about that he is not only "not popular," but is actually "unpopular" (there is a difference). They will start seeing Bush as a liability.

I still think Kucinich offered a complete reversal of Bush's policies. I wonder if he could really make his ideas a reality.

Kerry doesn't seem to be different enough. He seems to be shrinking away from anything that may have made him more receptive to the progressive community.

I've got a real problem with the irresponsible Left that seems to assume that one can just remove the troops from Iraq and wave bye bye. There is something called "collective responsibility" even if you were a hard anti-war protester pre-Iraq 2003, and I simply don't think that has sunk in to some proponents of just bring the troops home. Sadly, you cannot run the invasion backwards and depart.

What Kerry perhaps promises is a clean slate in dealing with potential allies. Bush is so profoundly unpopular abroad he has no hope of attracting any sort of meaningful help -- but Kerry at least offers that possibility. To win Kerry is going to have to speak two languages -- the one of Intnernationalization, cooperation, careful listening to the views of others, but at the same time he cannot forsake a strong identification with American Interests and all the rest of the "realist" language. It is a difficult order, and in many ways it depends on Bush proving himself most lnnept as a diplomat, as incapable of conducting advantageous foreign relations -- and Kerry seeming to be very comfortable in that role, but at the same time retaining an authentic American character around himself.

There is NO plan to remove the troops. They are building permanent bases in Iraq. No matter what people think the plan is for us to be there till the end of time. Which may come sooner than we expect with this bunch running things.

Bush I and Bush II both seem to be proving Lincoln's aphorism about fooling people. They used war to fool "all" of the people but it's only worked some of the time.

> There is NO plan to remove the troops. They are
> building permanent bases in Iraq. No matter
> what people think the plan is for us to be there
> till the end of time.

That is undoubtedly what the Neocons are hoping, but what happens if the Iraqi government doesn't want it? As this WaPo article explains [ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34643-2004May17.html ] ordinary Iraqis are increasingly turning against the U.S. "liberators" simply because there is a general perception the Americans are unable or unwilling to make the country a safe place. This apparently goes for Iraqi government officials too, who will be assassinated if they are seen as collaborating with the Americans. So it is by no means a given the Iraqis will ask the U.S. military to stay since they supposedly fear a "civil war" would erupt. Let's face reality: the country is almost there already and it's clear a very significant, violent minority will continue the uprising as long as the "crusaders" remain in the country.

Interestingly, it seems the Bushies may in fact be planning to pull out after all! If the Iraqi government asks the Americans to leave, wouldn't it be a golden opportunity for the Administration to cut its political losses while declaring "victory" in this battle in the war on terror?


I predict that if the American's pull out, the Bush Administration will be charged with the greatest flip flop since "Read my lips."

Why did so many Americans die? Why did we spend so much money? First, it was because of terrorism. No terrorists. Then, it was about WMDs. No WMDs. Now, it's about "liberating" Iraqi's and protecting the rest of the region from "irrational" Saddam Hussein. Well, Saddam may be gone. But what good would the war have done if Iraq decends into chaos and another dictator takes over. Or worse, civil war envelops the country.

Bush will face a revolt by his neocon base. It will be the total repudiation of his own doctrine (The National Security Strategy, Bush Doctrine) and their philosophy.