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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

How Low Can He Go?

Who knows? But two new polls suggest he hasn’t hit the floor yet.
The new CBS News poll has some truly cringe-inducing findings for the Bush administration. On the classic right direction/wrong track question, just 32 percent say the nation is going in the right direction, compared to 62 percent who say it is off on the wrong track. That’s a net negative of 30 points on this question, a swing of 20 points from February’s rating in this poll, when it was “only” 10 points net negative (42/52 right direction/wrong track).
Moreover, this question generates an astonishingly negative response among independents: 26 percent percent right direction/67 percent wrong track. Wow!
Bush’s overall approval/disapproval is now 44/51 (-7), compared to 43/48 (-5) in March. His approval rating on Iraq is now 39/56 (-17), down from 39/53 (-14) in February. His economic approval is down to 34/57 from 36/53 in March. And even his rating on handling the campaign against terrorism has sunk to 53/41, from 61/33 in February.
Bush’s approval ratings among independents are all substantially lower than even the anemic figures cited above: 36/56 overall; 35/59 on Iraq, 29/60 on the economy (!); and 50/41 on the campaign against terrorism.
And how about this one: are you confident or uneasy about Bush’s ability to make the right decisions about Social Security? That question returned a crushingly negative 70 percent uneasy/25 percent confident response.
Perhaps reflecting which way the wind is now blowing, Democrats in Congress in this poll now get a better favorability rating (49 percent favorable/40 percent unfavorable) than their Republican counterparts (42/49, including 34/50 among independents). That’s a switch from public polls earlier in the year had been showing.
The new ARG poll provides similarly sobering news for the White House. The poll has Bush’s overall approval rating at 44/50 and his economic approval rating at 38/56–the latter rating the worst rating he has received going back to April, 2004 (the ARG release does not provide any data earlier than that date).
The poll also shows an exceptional level of economic pessimism. In terms of whether the national economy is getting worse or better, 53 percent say it is getting worse, 25 percent say it is getter better and 21 percent say it is staying the same. The 53 percent figure is the most negative figure recorded going back to last April. Moreover, when asked where the economy will be in a year, an amazing 44 percent say it will be worse than today, compared to 27 percent better and 25 percent the same. That 44 percent figure compares to just 2 percent last April who thought conditions in a year would be worse.
More evidence that economic pessimism is running rampant is provided in article today in the Washington Post, “Economic Worries Aren’t Resonating on the Hill“. That article cites just-released WP/ABC News Consumer Comfort survey data showing that almost half (48 percent) now think the economy is getting worse, compared to just 14 percent who think it is getting better. That’s the most negative reading on this question in two years of monthly polls.
Can Bush go lower? On this evidence, I’d have to say yes. How much lower? Don’t know, but the way things are going, it could be considerably lower. Stay tuned.