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Yeeeowch…A Whole New Low


The NYTimes has some details on the latest polling in the NYTimes/CBS effort — and it is getting ugly for the Bush White House.

Americans have a bleaker view of the country’s direction than at any time in more than two decades, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Sharp disapproval of President Bush’s handling of gasoline prices has combined with intensified unhappiness about Iraq to create a grim political environment for the White House and Congressional Republicans….

Mr. Bush’s political strength continues to dissipate. About two-thirds of poll respondents said he did not share their priorities, up from just over half right before his re-election in 2004. About two-thirds said the country was in worse shape than it was when he became president six years ago. Forty-two percent of respondents said they considered Mr. Bush a strong leader, a drop of 11 points since January.

Mr. Bush’s overall job approval rating hit another new low, 31 percent, tying the low point of his father in July 1992, four months before the elder Mr. Bush lost his bid for a second term to Bill Clinton. That is the third lowest approval rating of any president in 50 years; only Richard M. Nixon and Jimmy Carter were viewed less favorably.

Mr. Bush is even losing support from what has been his base: 51 percent of conservatives and 69 percent of Republicans approve of the way Mr. Bush is handling his job. In both cases, those figures are a substantial drop in support from four months ago….

Fifty percent said Democrats came closer than Republicans to sharing their moral values, compared with 37 percent who said Republicans shared their values. A majority said Republican members of Congress were more likely to be financially corrupt than Democratic members of Congress, suggesting that Democrats may be making headway in their efforts to portray Republicans as having created a "culture of corruption" in Washington.

By better than two to one, Democrats were seen as having more new ideas than Republicans. And half of respondents, the highest number yet, said it was better when different parties controlled the two branches of Congress, reflecting one of the major arguments being laid out by Congressional Democrats in their bid to win back the House or the Senate.

Yowza. There is even more in the article — it’s striking that there is so much of a difference in the President’s "base." (And I use quotes, because large amounts of the "base" appear to be substantially disaffected in this and other polling out there, notably the USAToday/Gallup which was out earlier.)

The May/June 2006 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine has an article by Daniel Yankelovich entitled "The Tipping Points" which I encourage everyone to read.  The thesis of the article is that there are multiple points — Iraq and terrorism, sure, but also environmental issues, big oil and even substantial discontent within the so-called "religious right" and disaffection around these issues that is substantially eroding support for President Bush across the political spectrum.

Yankelovich brings up some insights on these issues that I think will have real play up to and through the November elections this fall.  But by far, the thing that I found most intriguing in this article was his reporting on trends within the "religious right" which seem to indicate that the kool-aid is no longer so tasty, as personal issues like energy prices, increased grocery and other costs, and disgust with GOP corruption scandals begin to trump the "follow the leader" lemming voting that single-issue appeals from the GOP has had over the past few election cycles

No idea if this is why the NYTimes reported earlier this week that Rove is using the "if Democrats win, it will be scary" meme to excite the base, rather than turning to the usual "hate the gays, protect marriage, guard yer guns and rally round the flag" tactics (although Frist still has the marriage amendment and the flag-burning amendment on tap for debate in the Senate in June — just like clockwork for the manipulative, never gonna pass but we’ll stir up the pot anyway, election-year malarky that they always pull in stunt form).

But it certainly does put this earlier article from the WaPo into a much clearer context:

Tarrance said it would be extremely difficult for any president to bounce back this late in his administration and reassert influence on Capitol Hill when his approval rating barely exceeds his party’s base support and half of all adults surveyed said they "strongly disapprove" of his performance. An overwhelming 73 percent of independents disapprove of Bush’s performance, and two-thirds of those "strongly disapprove."

The new poll of 1,003 adults was conducted April 27-30 (after Bush had picked a new chief of staff, budget director and press secretary) and was released at a conference sponsored by the Cook Political Report. It contains plenty of other bad news for Bush and the Republican Party, and suggests that the growing unpopularity of the Iraq war may be turning this year’s midterm congressional elections from local to national issues.

One or two polls showing a downturn over a couple of months might not be a dire prediction. But when you have a trend across the board, and the margin of error in the polls puts you potentially into the 20s, it’s not good news.

When you have a trend even in the kool-aidiest reaches of your supposed base, that’s even worse news.  If you haven’t considered working on a local campaign for a Democratic candidate in your area, please do so.  Between now and November is crunch time — there is going to be a big need for a lot of boots on the ground if we are going to re-take both houses of Congress.  And I don’t need to tell you how much this nation of ours is in need of some accountability.

No more Rubber Stamp Republican Congress.  Had enough?  Vote for a Democrat and, better yet, get out there and work for one.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com