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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Can There Be Such a Thing as Too Much Bad News for President Bush?

I didn’t think so. So, rather than feeling guilty for piling on, let’s take a peek at the new CBS News/New York Times survey. Here are the key findings.
1. Bush’s favorable/unfavorable rating is net negative for their fifth survey in a row (going back to the beginning of April).
2. Kerry-Edwards beats Bush-Cheney by 5 points (49-44), including an 8 point lead among independent voters. Note that this 49-44 lead is the identical result that CBS News obtained in their overnight poll after Kerry selected Edwards as his running mate, suggesting that the Edwards bounce has some staying power.
3. Bush’s overall approval rating is net negative (45 percent approval/48 percent disapproval) for their fourth survey in a row, going back to late April. His 45 percent rating, while a slight improvement over his late May and late June ratings, keeps him well into the danger zone for incumbents.
4. Right direction/wrong track is at 36/56, essentially unchanged since their last survey about three weeks ago.
5. His approval rating on foreign policy is his worst ever at 39/55, as is his rating on handling the campaign against terrorism (51/43). (Note: this latter trend contradicts a recent Post finding suggesting an improvement in Bush’s rating in this area.) His approval rating on the economy is still going nowhere fast and, at 42/51, has still failed to reach the exalted heights of mid-February, when his economic rating reached 44/50. And his approval rating on Iraq is 37/58, practically a carbon copy of his dismal ratings in their late June and late May polls.
6. The Democrats have a 9 point advantage in the generic congressional contest, consistent with the Democracy Corps poll I covered on Friday.
7. John Edwards has a net +22 in his favorability rating, while Dick Cheney is now at -9, his worst rating ever.
8. For the first time, a majority (51 percent) says we should have stayed out Iraq, rather than we did the right thing by taking military action (45 percent). And the highest number ever (62 percent) says the result of the war with Iraq wasn’t worth the loss of life and other costs of attacking Iraq.
9. With all the brouhaha in the Senate about the gay marriage constitutional amendment, the number who think gays should be allowed to either marry or form civil unions continues to climb–from 55 percent in March, to 57 percent in May to 59 percent in this latest survey.
10. The highest number ever (60 percent) think the US should not attack another country unless the US is attacked first.
11. The Democrats have an 8 point advantage in party ID without leaners and a 14 point advantage with leaners. Shades of the much-maligned Los Angeles Times poll. This party ID advantage, if it holds, gives the Democrats a built-in advantage on election day, which the Republicans then have to try to desperately counter by maximizing turnout of their base.
For the likelihood that this strategy will work, see my July 15 post.

23 comments on “Can There Be Such a Thing as Too Much Bad News for President Bush?

  1. bt on

    Does anyone have information on the demographic makeup of those who participate in the Iowa Electronic Markets?
    If participants in the IEM are disproportionately upscale, and if you believe, as I do, that the wealthiest people in this country are both increasingly out of touch with how those with ordinary means live, and less bound to the well being of citizens of ordinary means, that would be a reason not to give decisive weight to what the IEM says.
    Ruy’s posts on the real health of the economy vs. how the WashPost sees it are a good example of how conservative business and economics coverage has become over the past two or three decades. It is overly focused on the stock market as an indicator of the health of the economy and it does not look beneath the surface when looking at issues such as the employment picture. This correlates with huge increases in pay and status for reporters for the elite print and television outlets which other media outlets feed off of. The folks doing the reporting are not middle class themselves. They are upper middle class and up, with incomes far higher than the median for the country as a whole. And their reporting reflects a mindset that is out of touch with how ordinary folks live in this country.
    An acquaintance of mine is an investment advisor for a big firm. He’s a very nice guy, mild mannered, thoughtful, who has no use for the fundamentalists or foreign policy adventurism. He’s a blue-blooded Repub who voted for Bush and now knows W is incompetent. He also tells me a guy in the business he knows who has never voted Dem–and didn’t think it was possible he ever would–told him with great anguish that he’s voting for Kerry this time.
    Anyway, I ask my acquaintance six weeks ago if the stock market analysts in his shop are weighing in yet on who they think will win the election. He says to me, very matter of factly, “Oh, yeah, yeah. Bush.”
    I say “Oh?” He says “Oh, yeah. Easily.” I raise my eyebrows again.
    No data offered, nothing. (I suspect he and his firm’s analysts were relying on the IEM data.)
    He even tells me that historically the stock markets tail off in the first year of a presidency–unless it’s a Democrat who wins, in which case the markets go up. (! I think there was a big study by MetLife or some other insurance company on that.) Kerry, of course, would “tax the hell out of people.” (meaning wealthy people, of course–I rather doubt he knows the top marginal federal income tax rate under Eisenhower was 90%)
    Go figure. But that’s his world–the markets start to turn up, the profit picture starts to look up…things are looking up from where he sits.
    I just think he–and a whole lot of other folks up there in the economic stratosphere–are out of touch.

  2. dean on

    I do see your point, Mimiru. I predicted the rise in gas prices before the 2000 election. I told my friends, and especially the Bush supporters, that if Bush got in, watch the price of gas jump up like crazy. At the time we were paying $1.139 per gallon around here, and had been for several years. Sure enough, within six months, the price was close to $1.70. So I mentioned it to one of my friends and he said “At least Bush isn’t cheating on his wife.”
    Some people you can’t pursuade, but for the rest, you do what you can, you use what you can. If it does turn out to be a close election, I won’t have to think that I didn’t do everything I could to pursuade the people I know to vote for Kerry. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t talk up a Kerry proposal or point out a Bush failure to someone.
    If we win by one vote, I want to be ambassador to Ireland. I really liked Ireland when I was there on vacation.

  3. Mimiru on

    Those damn Iowans, first they rob me of my Dean (whose children I would have gladly borne) and now this.
    Seriously though, just means we all have to work harder and that Kerry needs to start closing (which apparently he’s good at) as soon as the convention ends and keep right on closing until November.

  4. john on
    Iowa Electronic Markets winner take all presidential future
    Shows Bush has regained his lead. The Kerry campaign does not appear to be able to catch up and hold the ground (I suspect the difference is the Nader vote).
    IEM has one of the best records of predicting elections outcomes, I believe, better than opinion polls.
    My gut reaction is this election is still Bush by a squeaker. Most voters have already made up their minds, those who have not see Bush as a stronger leader than Kerry, in a time when ‘strength’ is the buzzword of the day.
    The War on Terror and the Situation in Iraq favour a president: you don’t change horses in midstream.
    Maybe not what people want to hear, but my bet is when that curtain closes, a lot of the doubters will opt for the guy they think is more forthright, more determined, more focused aka GW Bush.

  5. Marcus Lindroos on

    > what it means, and what I certainly will
    > say, is that bin Laden could have been captured
    > two years ago if they had cared to find him, but
    > they let him go and ignored him until it was
    > useful to them.
    Also, there are the reports that an Al Qaeda camp was operational in northern Iraq (Kurdistan) in late 2002. Saddam had no control over this area, so it wasn’t his fault. But some reports claim Al Zarqawi and possibly other AQ bigwigs were there. You’d think the Bushies would have jumped at the opportunity to bomb the “evil guys”, right? Wrongggg… They dithered and dallied, ostensibly because they were “not sure” about the validity. But some government officials reportedly suspected that the hesitance was due to fears that it might complicate the ongoing effort to attack Saddam.

    Iran could be another possible attack opportunity for Kerry in the “War on Terror” debates. Here is a nation that, unlike Iraq, has a real and undisputed track record in the business of supporting Islamic fanatics across the globe. They seem to have a more advanced nuclear program too, and the IAEA is worried about it. The latest news is Iran may have sheltered some Al Qaeda operatives — including ten of the 9/11 terrorists had crossed Iran from Saudi Arabia the year before the WTC attacks. “War on Terror” hawks such as Michael Ledeen (who, to be sure, is a fairly obnoxious guy) are furious about the Bush Administration’s incoherent response to all of this during the past three years.

    Kerry could boost his hawkish credentials by promising to divert more attention to Iran, while at the same time reiterating his criticism that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake.

  6. Mimiru on

    Because the constant redistricting battles I’ve read that it won’t translate into more than perhaps 5 seats changing either way.

  7. Lawrence on

    Any historical perspective on the generic congressional choice advantage for D’s this year that Rasmussen seems to be measuring consistantly at 5-8 points? Is is more or less than previous years? How many seats gain might it be likely to translate to?

  8. Mimiru on

    I can’t really think of any other administration that would pull this kind of shit and do it so badly, and for those not up on the pervasive incompetence and process of the administation, this claim is so substantively crazy that for the average person the claim will be too outrageous to be believed.
    I’d also like to see Ruy’s comment on the Rasmussen poll’s shrinking Dem advantange when it comes to congress.

  9. dean on

    Mimiru, what it means, and what I certainly will say, is that bin Laden could have been captured two years ago if they had cared to find him, but they let him go and ignored him until it was useful to them. Otherwise he would have wandered around free forever. And that is the point of what I was saying. These “good things” meant nothing to them until it became campaign fodder, and then it was very important indeed. Predicting it enforces the notion that it was political and lends credibility to those who claim the “surprise” was entirely political.

  10. Mimiru on

    Who cares if it was predicted? What kind of rebuttal is that? I can tell you what the response of the average person would be to THAT claim:
    “They’ll do anything they can to win won’t they? Why aren’t you celebrating his capture?”

  11. dean on

    Inre: October Surprise. Already pre-empted, it is easily countered by pointing out that it was predicted and that the Bushies only did it to win the election, not because of a commitment to justice.
    Inre: Oil price crash. Same as above. Clearly a cynical move to win the election. Point out that prices will go higher than they were before once he wins.
    On the rest of Allen’s points, the answer is yes. However, making a lot of noise about how the deficit is financed by Central Bank of China and therefore puts us at the mercy of the Chinese can help.
    Ohio governor rejects Diebold electronic voting machines because of security risks. I believe that cheating at the polls will lose Florida for us in November. However, Ohio comes back into play because the cheating machines are no longer on the table. Look for more about this in the weeks and months to come as the Republicans won’t let this go away. They will fight to the death for those machines. The machines make winning easy for the Republicans.

  12. Colin Whitworth on

    10. The highest number ever (60 percent) think the US should not attack another country unless the US is attacked first.
    — I wonder if John Kerry is reading this…..

  13. Brian Wilder on

    What can the Democrats do about an October Surprise????? What should the Democrats do about an October Surprise????
    Reliable reports say that the Pakistanis have been told to produce a major Al Qaeda event — a supposedly successful, large-scale attack or, better, a major capture — during the Democratic National Convention. How should Democrats respond?
    How should Democrats respond to a Bush “achievement” prior to the September convention?
    How should Democrats respond to a terrorist event in October?
    [Not since the 1864 Democratic Convention have the Republicans needed “Sherman in Atlanta” more. And, these bastards are ruthless enough to stage it, for dramtic effect.]

  14. Alan on

    What will Bush/Rove/Cheney do to win? This includes their “supporters” like Jeb and Grover.
    Will they let a terrorist attack happen somewhere that is on a big enough scale to frighten people enough to flock to the incumbent?
    Will they pull in markers from the oil industry to crash gas prices down to $1.20/gallon for the month before the election?
    Will they work to disenfranchise voters for Kerry in key states and counties?
    Will they flood the media with ads equating Kerryand Edwards with everything from homo sex fiends to the Blob? (from the 1950s movie).
    Will they spend deficit financed pork-barrel money like there is no tomorrow but mostly in Republican districts to energize the base all the while preaching about “smaller government” and “this is the people’s money not the government’s money?” (huh?)
    POP QUIZ: How many of these things have the actually done already? Add your own. It’s fun!

  15. Marcus Lindroos on

    Next week’s Dem party convention in Boston will be crucial. A lot of voters disgruntled with “Shrub” will be paying close attention to Kerry / Edwards for the first time. *If* these voters like what they see and hear (=credible, alternative policies for 2005-08 presented by a credible presidential candidate), it ought to translate into a healthy “bounce” in the polls for John/John.
    Unfortunately, the stakes are quite high. If Kerry is perceived to be a weak candidate, he won’t get another shot before the TV debates in September. And if that happens, I worry that Kerry will rapidly lose support much as Dukakis did in 1988. “Shrub” is also expected to unveil his plans for a second term around the time of the GOP convention in New York.
    This could go either way, and nobody knows what the news from Iraq/Pakistan/Afghanistan will be. More Abu Ghraib-type blunders certainly will further erode the President’s ratings, but good news (capture Bin Laden and/or Zarqawi, for example) might yet restore some confidence in his “War on Terror”.

  16. Sandy on

    Desperate people do desperate things. Millions of us are concerned that the voting process will be corrupted by the republicans to their advantage especially with the electronic voting machines and the optical scanning machines. It has happened in the past and the 2000 election shows that they will do anything to win. I’m so disappointed that the DNC isn’t taking a a more vocal stand because no matter what the polls say what are you going to do the day after the election when the Republicans still control the White Hous, the House and the Senate? I am beginning to wonder if there are Republican moles in the DLC controlling the Democratic party?


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