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Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Gallup Delivers Bad News for President Bush

Gallup released their latest poll today and it contains mostly bad news for the president. And the poll, which was conducted June 3-6, and therefore partly overlaps with the period after Reagan’s death, certainly shows little evidence of a “Reagan death bounce” for Bush (though it remains possible that later polls will turn up evidence of such a bounce).
Turning first to the horse race numbers, Kerry leads Bush by 5 points among RVs (49-44), up from a 2 point lead in their May 21-23 poll. It’s also interesting to note that, for the second straight poll, Gallup’s LV numbers (a 6 point, 50-44 lead for Kerry) closely match their RV numbers.
Gallup helpfully provides a solid red/purple/solid blue breakdown of the Kerry-Bush RV matchup. That breakdown shows Kerry with a very healthy lead in the solid blue states (57-37( and Bush with a surprisingly modest one in the solidly red states (48-44). And, most critical to Kerry’s electoral chances, he replicates his national lead of 5 points in the purple states (49-44).
The poll shows Bush with a modest uptick in his overall approval rating (up 2 points in the last two weeks to 49 percent, with disapproval remaining steady at 49 percent). But his approval rating on the economy, despite the recent pretty good job numbers, has not budged since early May and remains mired at 41 percent. In fact, this latest poll shows his disapproval rating on the economy actually going up slightly (by 2 points, to 58 percent) in the last two weeks.
Bush’s approval rating on handling terrorism remains his relative strong point at 56 percent–but even that, of course, is way down from the gaudy ratings of 65 percent and above he consistently received until this spring. And his rating on Iraq is essentially unchanged from a month ago at a very poor 41 percent approval/57 percent disapproval. His rating on handling foreign affairs is only slightly better at 44/54.
But his worst ratings are in two domestic areas of potentially large significance to November’s outcome: energy policy and prescription drugs for seniors. In both areas, he receives identically abysmal 33/58 ratings. The energy policy rating suggests that high gas prices are indeed hurting Bush politically and the prescription drugs rating indicates that the new discount drug cards are not–despite the predictions of various Republican operatives–improving public perceptions of Bush’s performance in this area.
Not a lot of good news here for the current occupant of the Oval Office. No wonder Republicans have been floating the idea of a Reagan death bounce for Bush. Nothing else seems to be working.

30 comments on “Gallup Delivers Bad News for President Bush

  1. dave christoph on

    — Bush with a surprisingly modest (lead) in the solidly red states (48-44).
    key notes:
    — even in solidly red states, Bush’s reelect # is below 50%!
    — Bush’s lead in solid red states is less than Kerry’s lead in solid blue or even purple states!
    — Bush’s base of support is less than solid — previous polls have noted many instances in which Bush leans of soft support more than Kerry does on numerous issues and even in horserace comparisons.
    — Democrats are making more inroads into red America than GOP is into Blue America! Kerry is confident enough and financed well enough to expand the battleground states to include some considered solidly red!
    –compare this anemic 4% Bush lead to 2000 results in the solid red states:
    AL +14 (elected a Democratic governor)
    AK +31 (Democrats are actually competitive for a senate seat in solid red AK!)
    AZ +6 (Democratic governor)
    CO +14 (Kerry may just swing CO and has begun airing aids. Democrats are competitive for a senate seat and a congressional seat. One candidate is the incumbent attorney general Salazar.)
    GA +12
    ID +39
    IN +16 (Could Senator Evan Bayh as VP swing IN and consolidate the midwest?)
    KS +21 (KS elected a Democratic governor!)
    KY +16 (KY-6, which went Bush +13 has already
    repudiated a GOP congressional candidate who tried to run on Bush’s record, giving the Democrat Ben Chandler a +13 victory!)
    LA +8 (Kerry is confident enough to run ads and compete for LA, which already has a Democratic governor and 2 Democratic senators.)
    MS +17 (elected a Democratic governor)
    MT +25
    NE +29
    NC +13 (even Rasmussen’s pro-republican polls still see NC is in play, a double digit Democratic swing. NC is developing the high-tech economy and diversified ideopolises that foster Democratic voting patterns. Could Senator John Edwards as VP place NC in the blue?)
    ND +28
    OK +22 (Democratic governor Henry is providing leadership in health care that Bush is seriously lacking! OK has 5th highest number of uninsured residents)
    SC +16 (elected a Democratic governor)
    SD +22 (elected 2 Democrtic senators and a Democratic congresswoman, giving the GOP its second straight defeat in special elections in solidly red states in a row in 2004, even after Karl Rove and Speaker Hastert and Laura Bush worked to campaign and raise money for their candidate!)
    TX +21 (Even after engineering a favorable district map for his reelection, Tom DeLay is vulnerable. A 2:1 republican district TX-22 gives him a sub-50 approval rating and a relect # of 36%. Residents of his district have come to see his power-grabs and ethics violations and pending grand jury investigations as an embarassment and believe that he is not doing enough for his district, specifically blocking federal money to build much needed high-speed rail in his own district! Donations have been pouring in from across the country to his Democratic opponent Richard Morrison at http://www.richardmorrisonfordistrict22.com)
    UT +41
    VA +8 (even Rasmussen’s pro-republican polls still see VA is in play, a significant Democratic swing. VA is developing the high-tech economy and diversified ideopolises that foster Democratic voting patterns. Could Democratic Governor Mark Warner as VP place VA in the blue?)
    WV +6 (Historically one of the most loyal Democratic states that could return to its Democratic roots out of dismay at Bush’s poor economic policies. Many feel that the state party did little to help Gore and merely lifting a finger for Kerry in 2004 could make all the difference it would take to swing WV back to blue.)
    WY +41
    All these states provided Bush with margins of at least +6, many of them by double digits, and as much as +41, how much has Bush’s base eroded if he only holds a 4 point lead today? Every one of these states gave Bush at least 51% of the vote in 2000, but now the average reelect # is only 48!
    Bush’s support is failing just as Democrats are becoming more motivated and unified. 2004 may just be the embarassing landslide defeat that Bush deserves!
    Keep up the hard work and support to make it happen: volunteer, donate to campaigns, write to editors criticizing Bush, endorsing Kerry, and appealing to the obvious need for new leadership and a new direction. We need more eloquent voices for progress to be heard and read throughout the nation, in our media and in our daily lives!

  2. bt on

    Reagan’s effectiveness in helping bring about the end of the Cold War without a shot being fired was attributable to a degree of flexibility George Wannabee Bush has yet to exhibit.
    For backup on this (descriptive text and links courtesy of Josh Marshall, at http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com):
    Check out Fred Kaplan’s piece in Slate http://slate.msn.com//id/2102081/ on the interplay between Reagan and Gorbachev, how Reagan did play a key role in triggering, though not causing, the end of the Cold War — though not in precisely the way his hagiographers imply. Also take a look at this piece by Sid Blumenthal in Salon http://www.salon.com/opinion/blumenthal/2004/06/10/reagan/index.html , which looks at this dimension of Reagan’s presidency from a distinct though complementary perspective.

  3. Lawrence on

    “Or at least watching a baseball manager at work.”
    An even better example might be how Lincoln ran through a number of generals before settling on Grant as the really *effective* one.

  4. wash on

    “You may not like Bush (according to polls, there’s a lot of you that don’t!), but he makes a decision and sticks to it.”
    Where I come from, this is the sign of someone who can’t think. Decisions should always be reevaluated according to the changing facts on the ground. He should have learned this in business school. Or at least watching a baseball manager at work.
    Who never changes his batting order as the game progresses? Who never takes a starting pitcher off the mound when the game goes into crucial late innings?
    Come on, this ‘makes a decision and sticks to it” mantra is nonsense.

  5. S Robinson on

    No, you didn’t get my dander up. I thought maybe I got YOUR dander up.
    The war medals (at least the Purple Hearts) are under some scrutiny. His subsequent protest of the war and indictment of all his fellow soldiers lessens him, at least IMHO.
    Yes, I was going for the cheap laugh with the gravitas remark.
    I was never too impressed with the Iran-contra investigation, and I’m not the only one who saw no reason to establish relations with Vietnam.
    I’m not at all familiar with anything Bush did as governor. In 2000, I voted for him as an unknown (with conservative tendencies) over Gore because Gore’s views did not agree with mine.
    This year, Bush will be running on his record as President, not governor. That may save his job or be his undoing; it’s up to the voters to decide.

  6. SSJPabs on

    bt, I just meant that he could use it TO win. He can have a detailed plan, but he doesn’t have to be very specific about it until after the election thus preventing the Bushies from using anything in it to club him over the head with it. My point was for campaigning ONLY not once Kerry wins.

  7. Lawrence on

    P.S. I was hoping for an answer to this question as well:
    “Can you tell me what your positive reasons were to vote for W in 2000 (i’m assuming of course that you did).”

  8. Lawrence on

    “War hero”? Debateable. I’ll say he served his country and leave it at that.
    “20 years in the Senate” – Sure, but doing what?
    “gravitas” – Is that Latin for “I can’t make up my mind”?”
    Well, Mr. Robinson, I seem to have gotten your dander up.
    War Hero – he was awarded a Silver Star, as well as the usual and not very difficult to obtain Purple Hearts. That would usually be considered a reasonably sufficient qualification.
    “20 years in the Senate” – Sure, but doing what?
    He launched the Iran-Contra investigation (and got left out of the panel when it got going). He and McCain were the prime movers behind re-establishing relations with Vietnam, and going there to investigate and put to rest the persistant rumor that there were thousands of G.I.s being held in prison camps. His investigatorial focus seems to derive from his years as Assistant Attorney General of Massachusits (spelling?). Contrast that with Bush’s activities of the same time period: Failing to make a profit with his Arbusto oil company, getting bought out by a friend of his father, and then going on to baseball management.
    Now you tell me what Bush did as Governor of Texas.
    I’ll assume that you know the meaning of Gravitas and that that is merely a humorous remark.

  9. Jon Juzlk on

    ‘War hero”? Debateable. I’ll say he served his country and leave it at that.’
    Kerry received a Bronze Star, a Silver Star and 3 Purple Hearts. By just about any definition other than that of a wingnut, that would qualify as a war hero.
    ‘You may not like Bush (according to polls, there’s a lot of you that don’t!), but he makes a decision and sticks to it. ‘
    The problem is that he makes mostly bad decisions.

  10. S Robinson on

    “War hero”? Debateable. I’ll say he served his country and leave it at that.
    “20 years in the Senate” – Sure, but doing what? No major legislation, and voted against every military weapon. Now he wants to make sure we have a strong defense.
    “gravitas” – Is that Latin for “I can’t make up my mind”?
    You may not like Bush (according to polls, there’s a lot of you that don’t!), but he makes a decision and sticks to it. He doesn’t need a pollster to help him make it, either. In the face of all his negatives, the best thing Bush has going for him is his optimism for America and for Americans. Kerry strikes me as a doom-and-gloom type who is better suited for criticizing than leading.

  11. bt on

    Re SSJPabs, I think you may have answered your own question. Nixon (and, to be fair, Johnson) left a legacy of mendacity. Kerry devoted a chunk of his life to fighting the disastrous consequences of gross deception by two White Houses about the Vietnam War. I don’t see that he would want to adopt that style of leadership if he wins.

  12. Roy on

    “Kerry’s best chance comes not from any great desire to vote for Kerry but from extreme dissatisfaction with Bush”
    Well, yes, Bush is the incumbent. You could say the same, mutatis mutandis, for 1976 or 1992. But one should also distinguish between _our_ reasons for voting for Kerry and the reasons of swing voters (assuming that “reasons” is the correct word).
    My positive reasons are mainly a 90+ career rating from ADA and a distinguished, courageous record in helping to stop the Vietnam slaughter. I don’t expect many swing voters to have the same reasons.

  13. Lawrence on

    “Kerry’s best chance comes not from any great desire to vote for Kerry but from extreme dissatisfaction with Bush.”
    War hero, leader of VVAW, 20 years in the Senate, shows intelligence, skepticism, and gravitas. This makes quite a contrast to somebody who’s pre-presidential biography includes business failure and baseball team executive. I keep on thinking of what W was doing when Kerry was in the Senate casting all those votes that the RNC are criticising him for.
    Can you tell me what your positive reasons were to vote for W in 2000 (i’m assuming of course that you did).
    Vote Kerry – he would have thought twice before trading Sammy Sosa!

  14. S Robinson on

    I can’t help but notice that all the posts so far (except for those from wellbasically and bt) focus on Bush’s negatives and not on Kerry’s positives. It seems the readers on this blog feel Kerry’s best chance comes not from any great desire to vote for Kerry but from extreme dissatisfaction with Bush.
    Side note: Kerry’s latest ad in Ohio is terrible. It has him droning on in a retirement center about saving Medicare. The camera cuts away to seniors listening to the speech. The desired effect may be to show how intently the people are listening, but to me they look really bored. The ad certainly doesn’t make me want to run out and vote for Kerry.
    But what do I know? I think anyone who has read my posts knows I’m voting for Bush!

  15. Lawrence on

    Re: Reagan canonization bounce – CNN 24 hour funeral commentary. Fox, MSNBC, same thing. I pretty sure most people have already had more than enough. Looking at the polls, it’s possible that the lock-in point has already been reached, and Reagan funeral boredom is not going to help W. Maybe.

  16. SSJPabs on

    Why shouldn’t Kerry just stick with “I have a secret plan to win the Iraq war”
    …it worked for Nixon.

  17. bt on

    I am wondering if Reagan’s death and attention to his legacy has helped the Administration see some value in flexibility and pragmatism. After all, they appear actually to have listened and attempted to accommodate the concerns of other UN Security Council members in connection with the UN resolution on Iraq just passed.
    They might also have concluded they have no other choice at this point. So long as Kerry is permitting what appears to the public to be so little daylight between his and the Administation’s stance on Iraq, the Admin may conclude it has to rebut the argument Bush can no longer command the respect of the international community by showing they in fact are capable of listening and accommodating the concerns of other nations. They have to be able to make a passable case they can recover and lead in the world again and will swallow some of their pride to bolster their re-election chances.
    The controversy over the legal memos seeking to justify violations of the Geneva rules on torture is a watershed event in recent world history, one that is likely to have long-term repercussions.
    Right now it’s unclear whether the appearance of this story in the news during the week of Reagan’s burial will mean it is largely ignored by the public–or whether the national disgrace it amounts to will be exacerbated among those who feel the opposite emotion when recalling Reagan’s presidency.

  18. leftcoastindie on

    Beware the Trojan Horse of High Oil Prices…..
    As Prince Bandahar(sp?) told Bob Woodward the Saudi’s intend to drive oil proces down this summer, which by the way they have started doing, to drive gas prices down by election time in order to help Bush (or should we call him the Grand Inquisitor now??). If I remember correctly, something similar worked before. When oil proces collapsed in late 1983 inflation eased, unemployment went down and then voilla Reagans poll numbers went up. The next thing we knew, we were stuck with him and his dissasterous policies for another 4 years and one could argue 16 years. So I wouldn’t count on high oil prices to be much help.

  19. frankly0 on

    One more point.
    As some have noted, Reagan, despite his image, was, as President, far more flexible and pragmatic and far less ideological than Bush has been.
    The irony is that Bush has become in fact the recklessly ideological President that many feared Reagan would be before he was elected President.

  20. Ben on

    Can Ruy or someone else explain to me how the Gallup breakdown is mathematically possible? Up 5 among all voters, up 5 among purple, up 20 among blue, and down 4 among red. Doesn’t that imply something like 3 times as many red state voters as blue? That can’t be right. And do you really believe Kerry’s only down 4 in the red states? How much did Bush win them by in 2000? My guess is it had to be more than 10. Is it possible Texas is in play now?

  21. frankly0 on

    The Reagan death bounce seems particularly unlikely to work on the most important group of voters: the independents.
    Independents are not going to be much impressed by Reagan’s ideology. Insofar as they admire Reagan, it will be because of his leadership abilities. Yet every nostalgic clip of a Reagan speech puts under klieglights what Reagan had, and Bush lacks. God knows I’m no fan of Reagan, but even I get depressed when I see footage of the two Presidents side by side. With Reagan at least, there was a there there.
    Beyond this, the obvious points are: has Bush made us feel prouder to be Americans? Has Bush made us feel better off than we were four years ago? These are questions of considerable importance to independents, and the identical questions for Reagan worked wonders for him and his image. But the answers to them for Bush are diametrically opposite.

  22. Diane on

    Did you see the Daily Show segment on the Enron tapes (Monday night)? They should just run that. Killer.

  23. Marcus Lindroos on

    Fortunately (…), it seems the bad news pipeline will remain full for the next few months at least. We have the following things:
    * A highly critical new report on the CIA will be published in late July. Some of the dirt will probably hit the White House too.
    * The Valerie Plame investigations continue and have reached the point where “Shrub” reportedly decided to consult a personal lawyer.
    *Abu Ghraib will not complete fade from the picture, e.g. we recently learned (thanks to WSJ[damn liberal media!]) that there appears to be a secret White House memo essentially legalizing torture. It will most likely become very hard for the apologists to argue that the whole mess is merely the work of a handful of prison guards acting on their own. This could be bad news for Rummy in particular, who even might have committed perjury if this turns out to be true.
    *Cheney’s dealings with Halliburton in Iraq are back in the news again. slate.msn.com regards the latest reports as potentially more serious than anything we’ve seen so far.
    *The Administration’s recent strategy in Iraq has been to deflect blame from themselves by giving the Iraqi interim government more control over nonmilitary matters. However, I don’t think this will solve the basic problem, which is Iraqis are angry because there is no security and the reconstruction effort is sagging because private contractors and foreign aid workers cannot do their job as a direct result of it. The insurgents won’t cease and desist as long as there are American troops in Iraq, and I don’t think the relatively weak Iraqi government + police forces will be capable of pacifying the country. Hence, the violence (& U.S. casualties…) will most likely continue.
    *The economy is improving, but it seems oil prices and key employment figures in some swing states such as Ohio won’t change significantly before the November elections.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    I am still nervous there is going to be some big positive news for “Shrub”, but (apart from the economy improving) it seems increasingly less likely.

  24. Sara on

    I am trying to figure whether the “Torture” story does any lasting damage to Bush. The seeming claim that “Commander in Chief” includes a constitutional authority to authorize torture strikes me as an issue I’d like to see presented to the electorate in some fashion. There is something about these stories passing by so quickly, all smothered in this false sentiment about Reagan.
    Similarly, I suspect the CBS featured “Enron Tapes” will or at least could have a profound impact on swing voters. If an organization such as Move On could get hold of those tapes, and mix them properly for good radio ads and run them over enough times — I suspect this could move even some Bush supporters. If I were doing the ads, I’d do some sort of a contrast of the Enron Tapes words and the concept of Moral Clarity — and ask why GWB didn’t apply that to gross consumer exploitation.

  25. JJF on

    If Reagan were a choice he’d be outpolling ’em all this week. The Republicans are gonna need a miracle, based on these numbers, but the third day has come and gone and I don’t think Reagan is returning from the dead.

  26. soup on

    Isn’t the whole notion of a “dead reagan bounce” a bit pathetic? Do they really expect to coast to victory on the back of 80’s nostalgia. Reagan drew the so called Reagan democrats. What democrat is going to reverse their vote to Bush cause Reagan died?

  27. wellbasically on

    Kerry would do better to have a better economic plan than Bush. Right now his plan is worse.
    He should also stop running ads against Nader. Look at these polls from dailykos.com
    Michigan poll
    by Paleo
    Tue Jun 8th, 2004 at 14:06:58 EDT
    Kerry 47%
    Bush 45%
    Kerry 45%
    Bush 43%
    Nader 3%
    EPIC/MRA poll. 600 likely voters. MOE 4%.
    Nader is not pulling from either. He is attracting voters who would simply not vote if Nader is not in the race. It is a waste of money and worse, a mistake in direction to attack Nader.


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