Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Dead Cat Bounce

It may be spring, but it’s definitely getting below the freezing point for the Bush administration and the GOP.

Mr. Bush’s approval ratings for his management of foreign policy, Iraq and the economy have fallen to the lowest levels of his presidency. He drew poor marks on the issues that have been at the top of the national agenda in recent months, in particular immigration and gasoline prices.

Just 13 percent approved of Mr. Bush’s handling of rising gasoline prices. About a quarter said they approved of his handling of immigration, as Congressional Republicans try to come up with a compromise for handling the influx of illegal immigrants into the country.

The poll showed a further decline in support for the Iraq war, the issue that has most eaten into Mr. Bush’s public support. The percentage of respondents who said going to war in Iraq was the correct decision slipped to a new low of 39 percent, down from 47 percent in January. Two-thirds said they had little or no confidence that Mr. Bush could successfully end the war.


Mr. Bush’s overall job approval rating hit another new low, 31 percent, tying the low point of his father in July 1992, four months before the elder Mr. Bush lost his bid for a second term to Bill Clinton. That is the third lowest approval rating of any president in 50 years; only Richard M. Nixon and Jimmy Carter were viewed less favorably.

Mr. Bush is even losing support from what has been his base: 51 percent of conservatives and 69 percent of Republicans approve of the way Mr. Bush is handling his job. In both cases, those figures are a substantial drop in support from four months ago.

What’s also interesting in this poll is that while the president and his party are cratering, the Democrats are seen as the party with the better ideas on how to deal with Iraq, gasoline prices, immigration, taxes, prescription drug prices and civil liberties. And get this: 50 percent of those polled said the Democrats shared their moral values as opposed to the Republicans who scored 37 percent. I guess this proves that the party that promotes legalized gay-bashing, uterus-monitoring, “intelligent design” over science, and bible-thumping falls flat when you have House members under indictment for bribery and an on-going investigation into defense contractors being escorted to the Watergate Hotel.

It’s also interesting that the electorate would conclude that the Democrats have better ideas than the Republicans when the RNC mantra is that the Democrats have no ideas. Even assuming that false premise, the Republicans are having a little trouble coming up with more than just engineering yet another fear-and-loathing campaign for the fall (see here and below) and salting the talking points of every administration spokesman from the White House to the deputy assistant to the deputy chief of staff to the assistant secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs with claims of how well the president’s policy in Iraq is doing.

I guess that proves that even a dead cat will bounce if you drop it from a certain height. However, I don’t think a 31% approval rating will do it.