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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

No Rally Effect for Bush

A number of media observers predicted that a rally effect would significantly boost the popularity of Bush and his agenda after the July 7 London bombings. That does not appear to have happened, based on a number of public polls that have been released since then. Instead, these polls suggest little positive effect on Bush’s popularity and agenda, as violence continues in Iraq and the Rove scandal at home grabs the headlines.
Job Approval. Gallup is the only firm to have polled close to and then right after the July 7 bombings. They found a modest three point rise in Bush’s popularity, from 46 to 49 percent. With other public polls, one has to compare the post-July 7 poll with poll from early June or even May. Based on this comparison, Pew and CBS News found Bush’s popularity up 3-5 points to 47 percent and 45 percent respectively and Ipsos-AP and NBC News/Wall Street Journal found Bush’s popularity down a point to 42 percent and 46 percent, respectively. In the case of the latter two polls, these are actually the lowest job ratings Bush has ever received.
The Economy. Bush’s economic approval rating was 42 percent in the Ipsos-AP poll (a point down from the previous poll reading), 40 percent in the CBS News poll (a point up) and 39 percent in the NBC News poll (four points down). Moreover, a July 13 Gallup report notes:

The Gallup Poll’s first read on consumer confidence after last Thursday’s London terror bombings shows little positive or negative change. Americans remain generally pessimistic about the economy, only about a third rate the current economy as excellent or good, and a majority say that now is not a good time to be looking for a quality job.

Social Security. The Ipsos-AP poll finds Bush’s approval rating on Social Security dropping to 35 percent. And the NBC News poll, which asks now finds its lowest number ever, 33 percent, saying it is a “good idea” to change the Social Security system to allow workers to invest their contributions in the stock market, compared to 57 percent who term it a bad idea. And, as we have seen before, those who believe it’s a bad idea say they’re unlikely to switch (by 62-36), while those who believe it’s a good idea say they’re open to switching by essentially the same margin (62-37).
Iraq. As I noted in an earlier post, the Gallup poll taken right after the bombings showed no evidence that reaction to the bombings had increased support for the Iraq war. The other post-bombings public polls tell the same story. Bush’s Iraq approval rating remains mired at 40 percent in the Ipsos-AP poll, and 39 percent in both the CBS News and NBC News polls. Moreover, the CBS News poll finds the following:
1. More than half the public (52 percent) says that US involvment in Iraq is creating more terrorists, compared to just 17 percent who think our involvement is eliminating terrorists.
2. As for how the Iraq war has affected the terror threat to the US, 44 percent now say that war has increased that threat (another 41 percent say there has been no effect), while only 13 percent believe it has decreased the threat.
3. Half the public says that Iraq is not part of the war on terror, compared to 37 percent who it’s a major part and 9 percent who say it’s a minor part.
4. Most Americans (54 percent) continue to think things are going badly, not well (44 percent), for the US in Iraq.
5. By an overwhelming 63-28 percent, the public says Bush does not have a plan for dealing with the Iraq situation.
6. And, finally, by 55-40, the public says the US should set a timetable for bringing the troops home from Iraq. This underscores the developing interest among the public in a timetable for leaving Iraq, despite Bush’s adamant refusal to consider such an option.
In short, Bush’s problems today look pretty much like Bush’s problems before the London bombings. Those problems were serious then and they’re still serious now. Indeed, with Karl Rove now in the crosshairs of the national press as the current scandal continues to unfold, they could easily become much worse.