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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Public Just Says No to Iraq Authorization

On Friday, DR covered the latest Gallup poll, which says, among other things, that the public opposes Congressional authorization of the $87 billion requested for Iraq by President Bush. Today comes confirmation of this opposition. The new Washington Post/ABC poll has the public opposing Bush’s request by a lopsided 61 percent to 38 percent ( a larger majority than the Gallup poll, possibly because the Post question mentions the previous $79 billion allocated for Iraq and its reconstruction). It’s now clear that Bush’s speech calling for the new authorization was, shall we say, a “miserable failure”. Indeed, in another slap in the face to Bush’s approach, the public favors eliminating Bush’s recent tax cuts (41 percent) over cutting spending (28 percent) or increasing the deficit (19 percent), to pay for the authorization if it is passed.
Also consistent with the Gallup poll, Bush’s approval rating on the situation in Iraq is now just 52 percent, down an amazing 23 points since the end of April. (Oddly, his overall approval rating in this poll, unlike the Gallup poll, is still doing its Wile E. Coyote running-on-air act and remains roughly unchanged in the last month.) And on a wide range of domestic issues, his ratings are truly abysmal. They include: the economy at 42 percent approval/56 percent disapproval; creating jobs at 39 percent/55 percent disapproval; the federal budget at 38 approval/57 percent disapproval; prescription drugs for seniors at 35 percent disapproval/54 percent disapproval; and the cost, availability and coverage of health insurance at 32 percent approval/61 percent disapproval. Those are some pretty bad ratings and especially significant because they include three of four issues the public deems most important to their vote in the coming year: the economy; creating jobs; and the federal budget. (The other issue in the top four is education, where Bush has a better, but hardly stellar, rating of 56 percent.)
Other notably bad domestic ratings include Social Security at 43 percent approval/46 percent disapproval and taxes at 48 percent approval/48 percent disapproval. The latter figure is worth emphasizing since it is the first time disapproval has been as high as approval on Bush’s signature domestic issue.
In the like father, like son department, the public now strongly believes, by 52 percent to 9 percent, that most Americans today are worse off, rather than better off, compared to when Bush took office. The analagous figures for Bush I, from October of 1991, were 48 percent to 7 percent.
Finally, for the first time since 9/11 more people think Bush doesn’t understand “the problems of people like you” than think he does (51 percent to 48 percent). And in a nice bit of symmetry, 62 percent now believe large business corporations have too much influence on the Bush administration and 62 percent believe “people like you” have too little.
Uh-oh for the Bushies. Sounds like the public’s catching on to them.