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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Bush’s Approval Rating Goes Galluping Away

DR has highlighted for a while Bush’s declining approval ratings over the course of the summer in most public polls. Gallup, however, has been somewhat of an exception. Here are the Gallup approval ratings from June 10 to August 26: 62, 63, 61, 62, 59, 58, 60, 59. Not much movement and DR doesn’t pretend to understand why this was so.
But that just changed. Bush’s approval rating in the Gallup poll released yesterday has plunged to 52 percent. Perhaps it’s like the coyote in the roadrunner cartoons who suddenly realizes he’s running on air and starts falling.
And this poll is just chock-a-block with other bad news for the Bushies. Bush’s approval rating on the economy is 45 percent with 53 percent disapproval. His approval rating on foreign affairs is now just 52 percent approval/45 percent disapproval for a +7 net rating. That’s down from a +13 rating in late August. And his rating on the Iraq situation is now 51 percent approval/47 percent disapproval for a +4 rating, down from +16 over the same period.
Reflecting this unease with developments in Iraq, just 40 percent say the Bush administration has a clear plan for handling the Iraq situation, compared to 59 percent who do not. That’s a -19 point margin against the Bush administration having a clear plan, almost double the -10 margin on the same question in late August. And a direct question on whether Congress should or should not authorize an additional $87 billion in government spending for Iraq and the war on terrorism actually yields a modest majority (51 percent to 46 percent) against such an authorization.
And it’s getting to be a very grumpy public out there. Only 40 percent say they’re satisfied with the way things are going in the country today and 58 percent say they’re dissatisfied. That’s a net response of -18 points, up from -6 points on the same question in early August.
Given all this, it’s no wonder Bush is now performing so poorly in trial heats for ‘04 against a generic Democrat. This poll has him at 46 percent against 43 percent for an unnamed Democrat. That’s a slim 3 point margin for Bush, down from a 12 point edge just two weeks ago.
No doubt about it. The 2004 election should be real horse race. Stay tuned.