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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Hey-Hey, Ho-Ho, Swing Voters Say Bush Has Gotta Go!

Well, not exactly.  But they’re getting there.  Check out these two new poll analyses released by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) and Ipsos/Cook Political Report The Ipsos poll analysis looks at a group of swing voters who believe the war in Iraq was worth fighting but also believe the Bush administration intentionally exaggerated evidence on Iraq’s WMDs.  These voters, disproportionately moderate Democrats, residents of southern states, male, lacking college experience and working in sales or skilled trade positions, give Bush only a 49 percent overall approval rating, with 48 percent disapproval.  (The approval rating for all registered voters in the Ipsos poll was 54 percent.)
That’s pretty poor already, but not nearly as bad as these swing voters’ views on Bush’s handling of the economy: only 33 percent approval with 67 percent disapproval.  Wow.  That’s 2:1 disapproval over approval.  And Bush’s rating among these voters on handling domestic issues like health care, the environment and energy was almost as abysmal: 36 percent approval and 64 percent disapproval. 
Do these voters want to re-elect Bush?  They’re not so sure, to put it mildly.  Just 33 percent say they would definitely vote to re-elect Bush, compared to 32 percent who would definitely vote against him and 33 percent who would consider voting for someone else.
The PIPA poll analysis defines swing voters in a more conventional was as respondents who say they’re extremely confident they will vote in the upcoming election and identify themselves as independents.  But the news for President Bush isn’t much more comforting.
These swing voters give Bush a negative rating on handling the situation in Iraq (46 percent negative/38 percent positive) and a majority believes (52 percent) that Bush was being misleading when he presented evidence to justify going to war (only 36 percent of the general public believes this).  A majority of swing voters also say that the presentation of false evidence lowers their confidence in the President (52 percent) and that the war in Iraq was not necessary to stop Iraq’s WMD program since a regional military presence and a strong inspections regime could have contained the threat (51 percent, compared to only 36 percent with that view among the general public).
And do these swing voters want to re-elect Bush?  Nope.  If the election were held today 41 percent say they would vote Democratic, compared to 37 percent who say they would back Bush.  And, when asked how they would probably vote in 2004, 57 percent say they would vote for the Democrat and just 32 percent for Bush.
It’s a bit early, for sure, but these kind of numbers among two differently-defined groups of swing voters suggest that Bush may have some real difficulty capturing the center in the next election.  And that’s good news for donkeys everywhere.