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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

More On That Disappearing Bounce

A couple of days ago, DR flagged the fact that, according to the CBS News/New York Times poll, Bush’s approval bounce from the capture of Saddam Hussein had completely disappeared. Yesterday, he complained bitterly about the New York Times graphic that showed Bush’s approval rating going up at very time it appeared to be losing altitude rapidly .
Now the most recent Gallup poll has been released, which has Bush’s approval rating down to 53 percent, a 6 point drop from their last poll and 2 points below where he was in this poll before Saddam was captured. With this confirmation of Bush’s disappearing bounce, it’s a good time to delve more deeply into the detailed CBS News/New York Times results and highlight the many ways his political vulnerabilities have re-emerged as this bounce has dissipated.
Start with the classic right direction/wrong track question. Right before Saddam’s capture, the CBS News poll had this measure at 39 percent right direction/56 percent wrong track; right after the capture the measure suddenly moved to into positive territory, 49 percent right direction/43 percent wrong track. But now it’s back in solidly negative territory, 42 percent right direction/53 percent wrong track (this includes an abysmal 37 percent right direction/58 percent wrong track rating among political independents).
Bush’s favorability rating is now almost evenly split (41 percent favorable/38 percent unfavorable) for the first time in his presidency. His 38 percent unfavorable rating is his highest ever, as is his 45 percent disapproval rating on how he is handling his job as president.
Note also that the Democratic party now has a substantially higher favorability rating than the Repoublican party. The public’s view of the Democratic party is 54 percent favorable/36 percent unfavorable, while the public’s view of the Republicans is 48 percent favorable/43 percent unfavorable.
On the generic horse race question for 2004, 43 percent say they’d vote for Bush, while 45 percent say they’d support the Democratic candidate. That’s down from a 9 point lead Bush had after Saddam was captured and, again, is several points weaker than he was peforming before the capture.
And here are a wide range of results that speak to Bush’s continuing vulnerabilities. The public is split down the middle (49 percent/49 percent) about whether they confidence in Bush’s ability to deal wisely with an international crisis. And by a substantial 57 percent to 39 percent, the public says they are uneasy, rather than confident, in Bush’s ability to make the right decisions about the nation’s economy. That is by far the worst rating of his presidency on this question.
Just 41 percent think Bush has the same priorities for the country for the country as they do, compared to 54 percent think this isn’t true. This negative assessment is essentially unchanged since September of last year.
By about a 2:1 margin (58 percent to 30 percent), the public says Bush is more interested in protecting the interests of large corporations than those of ordinary Americans. CBS News has asked this question several times and this is the worst rating of his presidency, including the summer of ’02 when the corporate scandals were dominating the news.
In addition, by huge margins, the public thinks Bush administration policies favor the rich (57 percent), rather than the middle class (11 percent), the poor (1 percent) or all groups the same (25 percent). And, by almost 3:1 (64 percent to 23 percent), the public thinks big business has too much influence, rather than the right amount of influence, on the Bush administration.
Americans overwhelmingly (78 percent) believe their family has not made financial progress during Bush’s time in office–49 percent say they’ve stayed the same and 29 percent report they’re worse off. Just 20 percent say they’re better off. Americans are also very unlikely to believe Bush administration policies have had a positive effect on the number of jobs in the US; a mere 19 percent believe this to be the case. In contrast, 29 percent believe these policies have had no effect and an astonishing 45 percent believe Bush’s have actually decreased the number of jobs.
Finally, assessments of the effects of Bush’s tax cuts are not very positive and, in fact, haven’t changed much since September of last year. At this point, only 27 percent believe the tax cuts have been good for the economy, while most (68 percent) believe either they haven’t much difference (51 percent) or have been bad for the economy (17 percent). And how about this: more people believe Bush administration policies have made their taxes go up (32 percent) than believe these policies have made their taxes go down (19 percent)! The rest (44 percent) believe Bush administration policies have had no effect on their taxes.
All this indicates that the brief bounce in support Bush got from Saddam’s capture did not have a lasting effect on the broad vein of skepticism that the public has about Bush, his policies and their effect on the country. That skepticism remains and is likely to dog him througout this critical election year.

One comment on “More On That Disappearing Bounce

  1. Eric E on

    Nice assessment, DR.
    Billmon’s “Whiskey Bar” has also addressed the pronounced discrepancy between the NYT’s content and headline–a good read at http://billmon.org/archives/000975.html.
    The number I’m most impressed with is 43%: the number of people who *did not* say that Bush policies favor the rich. A list of those respondents’ addresses and phone #s would be a gold mine for spammers and telemarketers.


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