How Low Can Bush Go (In the Polls)?

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Via Sploid comes this CBS News account of Dubya's poll troubles. After the bogus port-security panic, the prez is pulling an "all-time low of 34 percent" when it comes to approval ratings.

(And not that it matters, but Deadeye Dick Cheney is now pulling a heart-healthy slim 18 percent. Imagine if he'd missed shooting his apologetic friend!)

Bush's job number is down nine points from last month and 51 percent of Americans now say he "doesn't care about people like themselves" (whatever that means). His buttery-smooth slide puts me in mind of a friend whose weight bumped up to around 265. My pal, an ambitious sort, figured he might as well push on up to 300 .lbs and then start the slim down in earnest–when else would he have the opportunity to tip the scales at such a Brandoesque tonnage?

In a similar–and yet totally unrelated (except by early-morning, pre-coffee synaptic misfirings)–way, Bush might as well drive as deep as Rommel did into Egypt and see if he can sink his numbers down to the single digits. That'd be a legacy for sure (and let's face it, Social Security reform is deader than, well, Rommel at 1:26PM).

Poll numbers, and video of same (?) here.

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  1. I’m willing to bet the latest dip is due to a loss on the right, rather than more of the middle. It is probably most attributable to the whole port thing.

    Of course, this certainly means further reduced chance of his re-election.

  2. Yes, he can almost certainly kiss goodbye to his third-term prospects.

  3. “I’m willing to bet the latest dip is due to a loss on the right, rather than more of the middle.”

    Certainly. His numbers among liberals and moderates (or, Democrats and independents) can’t really go much lower.

  4. Kerry’s approval numbers would have been worse!

  5. anyone know what the lowest presidential approval rating has been in the last 40 years or so? I know Carter was at 39 or something before he lost…but how low has anyone actually gone?

  6. This one already has been deconstructed at the Corner. Bottom line is the poll was heavily weighted towards Democrats vs. Republicans (38% to 28%) and was a poll of adults, not registered voters. Complete hogwash.

    See http://corner.nationalreview.com/06_02_26_corner-archive.asp#091178

    It’s a confirmation of what I’ve often said: Modern polling is so biased, and the assumptions that the pollsters use are so flawed, that the results are essentially worthless for anything other than partisan political purposes.

    The only poll that counts is the one on election day.

  7. 38 Dem – 28 Republican – 34 Independent/unenrolled is an accurate breakdown of nationwide voter registration. Pollsters who know their job make sure they’re getting a sample that accurately reflects the overall population.

    Learn something about statistics, Holly.

  8. I recall Clinton and Reagan both spent time in the mid-thirties in certain big media polls, not sure where they bottomed. Hard to take a single poll as concrete, but over at Rasmussen he’s had the same 6-8 point drop in recent weeks (currently at 43%). While you can dicker with their baseline, they do a fairly standard daily update that illustrates trends well.

  9. The point that this poll used all adults rather than registered voters rings pretty hollow, since the pollsters weren’t asking the respondents who they were going to vote for.

  10. What is it about second terms? I mean, Bush and his administration are doing this to themselves, right, but this always seems to happen in second terms. Even Reagan faced this in his second term, albeit to a lesser degree. Remind me to not run for re-election if I ever become The First Libertarian President.

    In fact, that’s #39 on “The Top 100 Things I’d do if I Ever Became a Libertarian President”:

    • No running for a second term. I’ll be too busy dismantling the government (or getting impeached for doing so) to worry about re-election.
  11. Thanks for the tip of the hat to Richard Brautigan, one of my all time favs.

  12. So what would the poll numbers look like if Cheney accidentally shot Dubya?

  13. This one already has been deconstructed at the Corner. Bottom line is the poll was heavily weighted towards Democrats vs. Republicans (38% to 28%) and was a poll of adults, not registered voters. Complete hogwash.

    Even Rasmussen, which is probably the most Republican friendly pollster in the business, shows him with only 43% approval.

    Face it – no matter whose numbers you look at, he ain’t making any friends.

  14. Imagine his numbers if the concerns over turning some of our ports to a nation with Al Qaeda ties wasn’t “totally bogus”?

  15. Why do a majority of the people in America hate America?

    Sorry, just getting it out of the way.

  16. joe, the breakdown I saw at Pew was 33% Democrat, 29% Republican, 38% “unaligned”. I’ve seen similar numbers bandied about, but they all seem to show about a four-point difference. Incidentally, the numbers for the Democrats took quite a dive after 9/11. They also went below the GOP’s numbers in 1994, which is interesting. Interesting because the “Contract with America” thing worked, yet the GOP has tossed it out. And thrown a match into the wastebasket for good measure.

    If Pew’s numbers remain accurate today, then the survey may very well have been inappropriately skewed. Like most people, I think these polls are virtually useless, due to self-selection (crazy people stay on the line, while sane people hang up), frequent lies by those surveyed, poorly authored questions, questioner bias, etc., etc., etc. Statistics is useful as a science and has proven itself time and time again, but it can’t work with bad data.

  17. Yeah right, Joe. The last few elections prove those voter registration numbers are worthless.

  18. This is a good an excuse to start drinking as any. I mean WTF? This guy actively crawls in bed with the Saudis and starts an unnecessary (dare I say counterproductive) war, and that’s just peachy. But the UAE (the UAE for crepes sake) tries to spend a few of the dollars we’ve been paying for our oil with, and the fact the he didn’t launch an air strike over it is just like treason.

  19. Warren, you worship crepes? Is that just crepes are all batter-based products?

  20. Rommel drives deep into Egypt, Nick? Get this man away from Google and keep him away!

    By the way, over at the NR, Bill Bennett is pissing all over the Dubai deal. The hysterical right is, well, hysterical. Frankly, I liked Bill a lot better when he was gambling. A guy’s gotta let off steam, right? If Ted Kennedy gave up booze and broads, he’d be dangerous.

  21. I have no pity for the electorate. Bush’s record was clear in 2004.

  22. (and let’s face it, Social Security reform is deader than, well, Rommel at 1:26PM)

    How far in advance did Cato pay for that banner ad? I’m sure they’re thrilled that even the Reason honcho-in-chief is writing off social security reform. And no thanks to Dubya…political capital, my ass.

  23. Who cares?

    I mean, so what, the Democrats may take back the House and the Senate in the 2006 election. Maybe George will then get to veto a few bills.

    It’s not like they’ll be able to impeach him before the 2008 election cycle anyway.

  24. Warren, you worship crepes? Is that just crepes are all batter-based products?

    The real question is do they contain corn syrup?

  25. Tell me this: Why don’t second-term presidents go out in a blaze of glory over some issue that they really care about? Let’s say for argument’s sake that Bush really believes in Social Security reform. Why not push it, and damn the consequences? Yeah, I know that the GOP members of Congress will cower in terror somewhere, but screw ’em. Congress is the wimpiest body on Earth, anyway.

  26. “Who cares?”

    Exactly, Xmas! What the hell is Bush’s approval rating supposed to tell us? He can’t be Constitutionally re-elected anyways. That most people don’t like G-Dub? Suck it up, you only got 2 years left. Hell, if I were Prez, I’d be warm and fuzzy to get a second term, then attack everything I could think of and still do nothing that I could actually be impeached for. Hell, I’d even play for the Liberals up to that point.

  27. Pro L, my point was, these are ballpark-accurate. A four point swing between Democrats and Republicans would amount to maybe a 3 point swing in the poll, if that – assuming that the figures actually are 4 point off.

    Also, I agree there may be some self-selection skewing going on, but is there any reason to believe that self-selected Bush hating Democrats and self-selecting Bush loving Republicans aren’t just cancelling each other out?

    James Are, “Yeah right, Joe. The last few elections prove those voter registration numbers are worthless.” How so? There have been varying degrees of crossover voting in the last few elections. If the sample was accurate (ie, people who report their registration as Independent are just as likely to answer “positive” as Independents overall), then the crossing-over would show up in the poll results, too.

  28. The personal popularity of George Bush, the public’s willingness to take him at his word and follow his lead, has been the primary driving force in our country’s politics for the past six years. It has allowed him to set the agenda in Congress, and to win the fights he get into.

    That this dynamic has disappeared seems newsworthy enough to me.

  29. “…no pity for the electorate”

    Would that be KMFDE?

  30. James Are, “Yeah right, Joe. The last few elections prove those voter registration numbers are worthless.” How so? There have been varying degrees of crossover voting in the last few elections.

    Seriously, wasn’t that a major theme in 2004? There was no shortage in 2004 of “I’m a lifelong Democrat but John Kerry is going to get us all killed by Islam OMG WTF!!!” stories. They popped up with what some might call questionable regularity.

  31. Phil,

    You mean the letters that kept turning up in local newspapers? The ones with exactly the same wording as letters in other newspapers? Wording that got send out to “GOP Team Leaders?”

    Google is a wonderful thing.

  32. Joe,

    “38 Dem – 28 Republican – 34 Independent/unenrolled is an accurate breakdown of nationwide voter registration. Pollsters who know their job make sure they’re getting a sample that accurately reflects the overall population.

    Learn something about statistics, Holly.”

    Which explains why CBS used a 33.5 D / 29.3 R / 36.2 I split in their poll just one month ago which had Bush at 42.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/CBSNews_polls/JANB-GWB.PDF

    Now, if one wanted to make an intelligent defense of this poll, they would point out that weighting it the same way they did their January poll that had Bush at 42 would only push his rating up to 35. In other words, taking 4 points total from the Rs and Is and giving them to the Ds barely explains any of the change. Basically, he lost less than 1.5 points due to weighting changes, a couple points each from Ds and Is, and a few points from Rs.

  33. Here we have a politician who has advocated and presided over a substantial increase in the size and scope of government on many fronts. Libertarians and conservatives should be delighted at his unpopularity.

  34. Rommel didn’t drive all that deep into Egypt (El Alamein’s only about 60 or 70 miles from the Libyan border, I think), but he did it in _style_…
    http://www.showrods.com/gallery_pages/rommel_super.html

  35. Okay – so there was some cross posting there. It looks like you explained yourself to some degree.

  36. One last thing – the “adults v. likely voters” thing doesn’t appear to have changed since the January poll.

  37. Once again, nobody asked me.

  38. The interesting point here is not Bush’s low approval rating (most president’s poll numbers slump during congressional elections years), but that the Democrats seem completely incapable of capitalizing on it.

  39. joe writes:
    The personal popularity of George Bush, the public’s willingness to take him at his word and follow his lead, has been the primary driving force in our country’s politics for the past six years. It has allowed him to set the agenda in Congress, and to win the fights he get into.

    I’m debating with myself on whether or not you are serious. My mental catalog of Bush wins and losses doesn’t seem to revolve around Bush’s popularity. It’s not like he’s a centrist, trying to create policies that make as many people as possible happy. He even got crap for tax cuts. That’s just crazy.

  40. Douglas Fletcher,

    Would you describe your opinion of George Bush’s job performance as very favorable, somewhat favorable, neither favorable nor unfavorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable?

  41. XMas,

    You really want to stick with the argument that people haven’t been willing to take George Bush’s word for things?

  42. joe, I said nobody asked me. You’re somebody. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

  43. In so many ways, Bush is seen as a Bizarro King Canute: continuing to command, with a nutty look in his eyes, that the tide go back out.
    War on drugs.
    War on terror.
    War on peace to install democracy.
    and on and on…
    The more he commands, the higher the tide until it becomes a tsunami.

    “Allah, allow me to calmly accept the things I cannot change.”

  44. Next Agenda: The War on Tides!

    “Within the year, the U.S. will blow up the moon.” (I forget who said that, I think it was comedian Steve Lynch, but not certain.)

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