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Mr. Unpopularity

Wow! Three new polls are unanimous: Bush and his agenda continue to slide in popularity in all kinds of ways.

Start with the new Hotline/Westhill Partners poll. The basic message of this poll is aptly summarized by the lead paragraph of the report on the poll:

As President Bush approaches the 100-day mark of his second term, the latest Westhill Partners/Hotline poll asked voters to assess the administration’s performance to date. With growing uncertainty about the economy, the administration’s ongoing efforts to sell its Social Security reform plan to the public, and the continuing war in Iraq, President Bush is experiencing declining support – especially among Independent voters – on key domestic and foreign policy issues. On almost all broad metrics -- including overall approval, right/wrong track of country, and the economy – Bush’s numbers trend in a negative direction.

In other words, we are a nation of rather unhappy campers. Let's look at some of the specific findings from the poll.

1. Right direction/wrong track is at just 30 percent right direction/56 percent wrong track (28/58 among independents), which is substantially down from 38/50 in the March Hotline poll.

2. Bush's approval ratings are also all down from March. Overall, he is at 46 percent approval/51 percent disapproval (42/54 among independents), down from 52/46 last month. His economic approval rating is 39/56 (36/60 among independents), down from 43/54 last month. His rating on Iraq is now 41/54 and his rating on Social Security has actually dipped below 30 percent (29/58).

And when asked specifically about the job Bush has done in the first 100 days of his second, term, only 38 percent say excellent or good, while 58 percent say only fair or poor (30/69 among independents).

3. Has Bush been a uniter or divider? Voters know what they think about this one. By 53-33, they say he's been a divider not a uniter.

4. On Social Security, besides his abysmal approval rating on the issue, the poll finds that "given President Bush's position on Social Security" , if the presidential election were held today, 54 percent of voters say they not be likely to vote for Bush, compared to 41 percent who say they would be likely to vote for him. Too bad for the Democrats that Bush didn't push his privatization plan for Social Security before the election.

5. On Iraq, by 69-24, voters think it's important for the Bush administration to have a clear plan for withdrawing US troops from Iraq and, by 59-29, they think the Bush administration doesn't have one.

6. On governance issues, the Democratic party beats either Bush or the Republican party on who "governs with the interests of individual Americans in mind", "will restore the country's reputation globally" and "will adopt more progressive solutions to national issues". But both the Republican party and Bush beat the Democrats on "governs with the interests of businesses and corporations in mind".

Sounds about right.

In addition, by 55-29 (61-22 among independents), voters say Democrats should "provide a balance" to make sure Bush and the Republicans don't go too far with their agenda, rather than "work in a bipartisan way" with Republicans to help pass Bush's legislative priorities and avoid gridlock.

Finally, by 48-30, voters disapprove of taking away the Senate filibuster and approve, 48-35, of Democrats responding to a takeaway of the filibuster by a drastic slowdown in conducting Senate business.

More on Mr. Unpopularity tomorrow....