washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Bush Rating on Iraq Below 40!

I believe this is the first time I’ve seen this in a public poll: Bush’s approval rating on Iraq has been measured below 40 percent. In the latest CBS News poll, conducted May 11, his rating on Iraq clocks in at 39 percent approval/58 percent disapproval (only 37 percent among independents).
Also in the poll, his overall approval rating is down to 44/49 (42/46 among independents) and his approval rating on the economy is now just 34/60 (30/62–more than 2:1 disapproval–among independents). And even his rating on handling the campaign against terrorism is a less than stellar 51 percent.
So, let’s see, his overall rating is 44 percent and his average rating in what are probably the top three issue areas–the economy, Iraq and terrorism–is now a dismal 41 percent. Lo how the mighty have fallen.
And, wait, there’s more. For the first time, less than 30 percent (29 percent) say the result of the Iraq war was worth the loss of American life and other costs, compared to 64 percent who say it wasn’t worth the costs. And among independents, it’s now an amazing 3:1 against the war being worth it (69/23).
The poll has a similarly lop-sided result on whether US is in control of the Iraq situation. By 57-31, the public says the US is not in control of events in Iraq, a margin that rises to 59/25 among independents–almost 2:1. The increasing sense of lack of control is probably an important reason for the increasing willingness to turn over control to the Iraqis as soon as possible, even if Iraq is not completely stable, rather than keep troops in Iraq as long as necessary (now 55-38 for turning over control, up from dead-even at 46-46 in late April).
Could Bush’s ratings on Iraq get any worse? Based on the way things are going, I would have to say that’s a very strong possibility.

29 comments on “Bush Rating on Iraq Below 40!

  1. Sara on

    No, I agree the BJP is not a proxy for Republicanism, but one certainly can see the parallels. What impresses me about the Congress success at the polls was the strong commitment to a Secular India, distinct from the Hindu Nationalist themes BJP has used over time, though somewhat behind the curtain during this campaign. I too am a little concerned about Congresses dependence on the Nehru/Gandhi dynasty, which elected its 4th generation in this election, at some juncture Congress will have to deal with cutting away from that dependence. I suspect that will require the emergence of institutions that nurture alternative political leadership. It appears the Congress winners this time are quite new personalities, not re-treads from ten years ago. But what I really find critical was the ability to create a winning coalition around the people who have not benefited from deregulation and economic growth. I think it is very important that Americans supporting Kerry and the Democrats understand this even though there are great differences between the poor in village India and the lower working and unemployed classes in the US. At least part of Congress’s success involved going back to basics and speaking for and to those who have little or nothing and for whom the 8% growth rate was meaningless.
    As to whether capturing OBL will change Bush’s fortunes — I have doubts. I think Kerry is positioned to raise questions about Bush’s leadership in the war on terrorism that will not really be impacted by a capture now. Remember, in December-January 2001-02 Kerry traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and he has argued all along that Bush failed to “close” with OBL when he was isolated at Tora Bora, deciding instead to play with “rent-a-tribe” proxies even though he had Marines and the 10th Mountain Division available to go in for the destruction — and as a result allowing the “rent-a-tribe” to deal with the other side, and execute OBL’s evacuation to Pakistan. The underlying issue which we do not fully understand is what kind of deal the ISI and the Saudi’s made with Bush to allow this excape. I think Kerry is well prepared to lay all this on the table. I doubt if it will come from Kerry — but it will come. Once you get into BCCI (which Kerry investigated via the Senate) and lots of other related matters — you get into the story of the Bush Family’s at least 25 year relationship with the Saudi’s who made the Bush circle rich and at the same time funded OBL’s terrorist projects. A focus on OBL will bring lots of this to light.

  2. Haggai on

    Oh, and in keeping with the precise theme of this DR post, this appears to be the second poll with Bush’s Iraq rating below 40:
    “55 percent of those polled said Bush is doing a poor job of handling Iraq, compared to 39 percent who said he was doing a good job.”
    Baseball fans know all about the “Mendoza line,” the disastrously low batting average (.200, I believe) that marks true hitting ineptitude. Is there a political equivalent? Being below 40% on a major issue might be an analagous number.

  3. Haggai on

    Are you guys talking about these poll numbers?
    You must have misread the handling terrorism results:
    “Bush appears to have an advantage over Kerry on the war on terrorism with 49 percent saying he would do a better job, compared to 42 percent for Kerry.”
    Not such a big advantage, though. And in keeping with DR’s “referendum on the incumbent” message of his recent posts, this other part is probably bad news for Bush (as is almost everything else in this poll):
    “[I]n the fight against terrorism — one of Bush’s strengths in many polls — this poll showed a split over whether Bush is doing a good job. Forty-six of those polled said he was, but 47 percent said he was doing a poor job.”
    Bush is certainly counting on people to trust him more than Kerry on fighting terrorism. But surely it’ll be tough to convince someone who thinks he’s doing a poor job on that front to vote for him solely on that basis, even if they don’t think Kerry would necessarily do a better job. I.e., Bush’s approval ratings on handling terrorism are more important at this stage than horse race numbers with Kerry on that specific issue.

  4. Jeff Fecke on

    Holy @*&$, if Kerry outpolls Bush on the War On Terra, I don’t see any scenario in which Bush wins.
    As someone else noted, Bush did such a good job of tying Iraq to the War On Terra that he actually succeeded in doing so–and now it’s destroying any good he did in the aftermath of 9/11.

  5. demtom on

    Ruy’s going to do a Lord of the Dance when he sees the new CNN/Time poll. Kerry outpolls Bush, 49-48, on HANDLING TERRORISM. (Much bigger margins on Iraq or economy) If this holds, it’s game-set-match; Bush needs terror to be his ace of trumps.
    CNN didn’t show the Bush approval (which I still think counts most at this point), but the match-up, even among Ruy’s dread LVs, is 51-46 (with Nader, 49-44). The old “Bush is a popular war-time prez” thing is getting pretty hard to say with a straight face.

  6. Heckraiser on

    I think it’s about time the media brought up crime as an issue. Kerry is VERY strong on this issue, the International Brotherhood of Police has switched sides and endorsed him:
    Don’t forget to give it a 5 rating.
    Best of all, he’s got a long record of taking on white-collar and organized crime – and that takes a lot of guts and skill.

  7. dean on

    Capturing bin Laden will not be a magic potion now. In addition to the fact that many have predicted that October Surprise, thereby now longe rmaking it a surprise, the realities have been so enormous and so negative that it can’t save his neck now. It will just provide some screeching points for the tfools of the reich wing.

  8. wvmcl on

    I also tend to think that the political effect of capturing bin Laden may not be a great as many expect.
    Recent events have shown us just how many new and potential bin Laden’s we are creating out there. I, for one, am not going to feel much safer just because bin Laden is gone.

  9. Joe Zainea on

    In a report updated today, 5/14, Paul Bremer is quoted on the MSNBC website as saying that the US will leave Iraq if the new interim gov’t. asks us to leave. In a House Comm. hearing yesterday a State Dept. official responded to arch-conservative Dana Rohrbacher that we would indeed leave if asked.
    The congressman’s question was not asked for no reason and Bremer’s response today was a deliberately resonnating assertion of our intention.
    Boys and girls, get ready for an announcement, probably in August or maybe in September during the GOP convention, that we are leaving Iraq at the request of the newly “sovereign” gov’t. there.
    If they have to bribe the members of the new government, this administration will make absolutely sure that they obtain an “honorable” exit permit from the sticky mess they have created in that unhappy place. Will the voters buy it? We’ll see.

  10. Mayank on

    Slightly off-topic, but I must respond to Sara’s comments about the BJP in India as some sort of proxy for Republicans in India. That vastly oversimplifies the situation in India. AMong other things, the hand over of India back to a dynastic rule is somewhat unhealthy.

  11. Kent on

    just a nitpick: 59/25 is MORE THAN 2:1.
    “By 57-31, the public says the US is not in control of events in Iraq, a margin that rises to 59/25 among independents–almost 2:1.”

  12. Alan on

    Absolutely I don’t see any terrorist attacks or more Berg videos helping Bush at this point. Almost invariably when you see Bush support, the reason they cite is “I want to feel safe.”
    Does the Berg video make you feel safe?
    Would a bomb going off somewhere in the U.S. make you feel safe?
    All these events will simply show how ineffective Bush and Ridge and Rumsfeld have been. And how useless Cheney is for anything but making himself fat.
    Another thing is that caputuring OBL will not have that great of an impact, any more than caputring Saddam did. Yes, a little bump. No, when people realize that there is a lot more to terrorism than OBL, and the terrorists will move to “avenge” his capture rather than quitting.
    Nobody has been more pessimistic about ousting GWB than me, but the evidence that he is going down is undeniable and mounting.

  13. Oberon on

    I hope no one’s celebrating Bush’s low approval numbers — at this point he has nowhere to go but up, and the media will love to play the “Bush recovers popularity” when the inevitable rebound occurs.
    Iraq could still improve signficantly, and all the failures wouldn’t matter.
    The economy could keep improving, and the 3 weak years wouldn’t matter.
    Osama could be captured, and the bungling of the War on Terror, including having 5 anti-terror czars quit, wouldn’t matter

  14. Tim on

    James is wrong. You should look down this blog and see Ruy’s comments to the contrary of what you’re talking about.
    I don’t think that the Berg killing will “galvinize” the hawks. It’s not an event that will steer people back pro-war who have recently been peeling away to a more anti-war stance. What about the fact that Berg was detained illegally by the U.S. in Iraq?? His parents fault the Army for holding him without due process.
    I think that Bush is taking a nosedive in almost every poll. People are losing confidence and it doesn’t look good for him. He’s headed steadily to the sub-40 approval rating. It will be extremely difficult for people to come back to him at that point. Everyone knows who Bush is and as time goes on they like him less and less.
    As time goes on people will get to know Kerry and like him more and more. This election is more about whether voters will want to keep heading down the path we’re going (economy, Iraq, war on terror) with Bush.

  15. jeffs on

    If Iraq and Bush’s other Mideast policies are OBL’s recruiting dream come true, and Bush MUST “stay the course” (remember “Read my lips; no new taxes.”?), then it stands to reason that OBL WANTS Bush reelected.
    And if voters rally around Bush after a big terrorist event…
    Bush looks weak now, but 5 1/2 months is a looong time.

  16. James on

    These polls are now invalid because they were taken before Berg’s beheading. That galvanized the hawks and their reasons for fighting terrorism. That doesn’t mean our position in Iraq makes any sense but that doesn’t matter to them, or to many of the public. You can bet that Bush will go back up in the polls thanks to Berg, and also because the news in Iraq is calming down. Once the media lies enough to the public about the economy, they will flock back to Bush. They don’t even know Kerry that well and what they do know doesn’t seem that warm.

  17. reignman on

    or maybe the voters want the election to be about the future, not the past. GW could claim that he won the Cold War, and reiterate that he won the Gulf War, but voters decided to vote for who would lead them into a Cold and Gulfless world–and that was Bill Clinton. If the voters want to go w/ a guy who does the economy, the environment, health care, etc., poorly, solely because he captured Bin Laden, then that’ll be their decision, but quite frankly, Kerry has been saying that we could have caught him by now if we didn’t redirect attention to Iraq. After all, if they capture him then, Kerry could ask “Why did it take this long you guys?” and stay the course. I’m not exactly sure why an intelligent person would decide that Bush is better at catching terrorists than Kerry, after all, neither of them would direct where troops are going (specifically), and they’re not exactly out in the field and gathering intelligence.
    Yeah, it would give Bush a big boost, but I think I’d be too cynical to think that they could win the election that way. A more feasible way for them to rig it is to do what many GOP candidates have done–run in districts w/ electronic voting machines OWNED BY CORPORATIONS that leave no paper trail. Check out “We The People–A Call To Take Back America” for more info. on that.
    Come to think of it, I remember in Wag the Dog, that they said they’d bring back the “war hero” the day AFTER the election, so they could say “we’re closing in” or some such thing. if they do it a few weeks before the election, then the affect may wear off, and if they do it right before the election, voters should probably be able to put two and two together, and if Kerry doesn’t claim that they set it up that way (if Bin Laden IS captured right before the election), then he’s a huge idiot.

  18. Paul C on

    I hate to be an alarmist, but there is still one ace left for Bush to win this election — and Rove is smart enough to know it — the capture of Osama bin Laden. If shrub pulls that off, he can claim that he went mano a mano against the two most evil men in the world, and beat them both. His approval rating would go through the roof. I expect to see him double and quadruple his efforts — and even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while. Lets hope that scumbag (bin Laden) quickly dies of kidney failure at the bottom of a cave somewhere.

  19. Eldon on

    Thanks, Sara. Won’t it be wonderful if it is the Republicans who finally have to stew in their own rancid brew.

  20. Sara on

    The problem with a sub for Bush is that the machinery of the Republican Party, down to the Precinct captains, is in the hands of the hard right, and the only thing that will work for a Republican Re-hab job is a return to moderate to Progressive Republicanism — something the Right would never accept. The Southern Racists, the Pro-Lifers, the anti-regulators have the power of the system now, and before the Republican Party can change course, it needs an internal civil war.
    In the end, this is the wages of the sin of the full development of Nixon’s Southern Strategy. When it first became clear this was what Nixon was up to, I remember the internal debates in Dem Circles — a few wanting to go easy of support for civil rights and the other “new stuff” — but lots of us were so sick of a history of buttering up to the likes of Richard Russell and James Eastland, that we actually were willing to contemplate the loss of a few elections for the sake of achieving the kind of re-alignment FDR had talked about in the late 30’s and 40’s.
    Now Republicans are going to have to face this choice and all the heartburn that will result as they fight all the necessary internal battles. I will very much enjoy watching from the outside. In the meantime let’s be glad Americans are finally taking a good look at political reality, and making the move away from that power center Bush occupies.
    I am also pleased today with the outcome of the election in India. They voted to restore a Secular Government, ruturn the Congress Party with a female Italian born Prime Minister — voted against a government that went along with World Bank and IMF rules that hurt the poor (half the population), and disregarded the 8% growth rate that benefited only the elite — in favor of a coalition of Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) — that is to distinguish it from the other Communist Party, the Maoists. While I suspect Congress will keep many of the BJP reforms — they were returned to power by the poor who voted their interests, and I suspect they will demand some satisfaction. I cannot imagine that Bush would be all that happy about this news. It seems to me that at least some of the editorial content during the campaign did involve a rejection of Bushism — they certainly talked a lot about Bush and Enron. It was a great example of democratic “regime change” — and if India can do it, so can we.

  21. bt on

    I see Matt Miller’s latest column has W dumping Cheney for Giuliani at the time of their convention. A GOP “Exorcism” Scenario. Cheney reminds me of the “dentist” in the old Dustin Hoffman movie “Marathon Man”.

  22. Keith M Ellis on

    I agree with Mencken for a couple of reasons. Truculent is right. But also, nominating someone besides Bush would be an enormous role of the die; a strategy, if a failure, would destroy many, many careers. No one is going to take that chance. Bush may be (and, I think, is) the losing proposition this year; but it’s sort of like that old adage: “No one ever lost their job for choosing IBM”. No one is going to be eternally discredited by choosing the incumbent.

  23. Mencken on

    I dunno, no offense but it seems pretty easy to dismiss. the GOP is truculent and pathologically stubborn if nothing else; I can’t imagine bush would w/draw from the race.
    as to the poll numbers: bwa ha ha ha ha. thanks to bush, schadenfreude may become americans’ new national pastime.

  24. Eldon on

    I’ve been saying for some time that Democrats need to be thinking of an alternative plan in case Bush is not the nominee. I see no way this free-fall is going to stop. The honeymoon is over. Is it going to be a Kerry vs. McCain race? Not an idea to be blithely dismissed.

  25. don on

    I am sure the WH is discussing/talking about a withdrawal plan as we speak. State depart talked about it today. The WH will release the plan after 6/30.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.