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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Main Political Supports of Bush Presidency Seriously Weakened

Bush may very well get his Supreme Court nominee through without much trouble. But that’s likely to help him only marginally, because the Pew Research Center has just released two new reports on their latest poll, “Republicans Uncertain on Rove Resignation” and “More Say Iraq War Hurts Fight Against War on Terrorism“, which together show that the main political supports of Bush’s presidency have become seriously weakened.
Bush has benefitted during this presidency from positive public perceptions of his character, which have seemed relatively immune to fallout from his many policy failures. No longer. Public views of Bush’s character have apparently taken a nose-dive since the last time Pew asked in people for their impressions of Bush’s character.
In fall of 2003, 62 percent said Bush was trustworthy and just 32 percent said he was not, a 30 point positive margine. Today, however, it’s almost an even split–49 percent say he’s trustworthy and 46 percent say he isn’t. Similarly, he’s slipped from 56 percent he does/38 percent he doesn’t on “cares about people like me” to 48/49 today.
The biggest shift has been on “able to get things done”, which has fallen from 68/26 to 50/42 today. And even characteristics like “a strong leader” (68/29 to 55/41) and “warm and friendly” (70/23 to 57/37) have declined substantially.
Across the board, those stellar character ratings which supposedly meant Bush could weather any political storm have become mediocre to poor. And he’s lost the most ground among independents, only 38 percent of whom now believe Bush is trustworthy or cares about people like them. Even more amazing, less than half (48 percent) of indepedents now think Bush is a strong leader, which is a massive 24 point decline since Pew’s previous measurement.
And how about this: in February of this year, the two leading one word description of Bush were “honest” and “good”, cited by 38 percent and 20 percent of the public, respectively. Today, honest has declined to 31 percent, closely followed by “incompetent” (26 percent, up from 14 percent) and “arrogant” (24 percent, up from 15 percent).
Karl Rove
Another mainstay of Bush’s presidency has been Karl Rove. But he’s starting to seem more a liability than an asset. As ABC News reported the other day, only a quarter of the public think the White House is cooperating fully in the investigation of the “outing” of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame (married to Bush critic Joseph Wilson). Rove is a central target of that investigation and administration attempts to shield him are just contributing to the erosion of public trust in Bush and his administration.
Right now, more believe Rove is guilty of a serious offence than not (32-23) and more believe he should resign than not (39-23). But many haven’t heard enough to have an opinion, so the percentage of the public calling for his resignation still is not that high.
However, among the half of the public that has been following the story closely (which makes this story roughly as big as the Trent Lott resignation and much bigger than the Delay ethics controversy), almost three-fifths (58 percent, including 69 percent of independents) call for Rove’s resignation, compared to just 26 percent who don’t. Similarly, those who think Rove is guilty of a serious offense rises to 47 percent among the attentive public (54 percent among independents), with 29 percent dissenting.
More on “Main Political Supports of Bush Presidency Seriously Weakened” tomorrow…..