Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bush at Historic Lows in Gallup Poll

Charlie Cook puts Bush’s polling numbers in perspective:

At this point in their second terms, the Gallup poll showed President Eisenhower with a 58 percent approval rating, President Reagan was at 65 percent and President Clinton at 61 percent. President Nixon, shadowed by Watergate disclosures that would eventually force him to resign, was at 31 percent.

Indeed, in the entirety of their second terms, Eisenhower never dropped below 48 percent, Reagan never got below 43 percent and Clinton never dipped below 54 percent in Gallup polling. Clearly, we don’t have much experience with second-term presidents facing these kinds of numbers. There is no textbook telling someone in the position Bush finds himself in how to battle back and find success pushing his legislative agenda on Capitol Hill.

It is impossible to predict if Bush can recover. We have seen twice during Bush’s term that unexpected events such as 9/11 and Katrina can bring about major changes in perception. There are a few factors which I believe will make it harder for Bush to recover. Unlike Reagan, Bush shows no intention to moving towards the center when faced with scandal. In addition, Bush’s scandals are far easier for the average voter to understand than Iran Contra was.

The biggest obstacles to a recovery by Bush may be that the charges against him by his opponents are true and there is no way to spin this otherwise. Bush’s best defense to charges of lying regarding about Iraq comes down to claiming incompetence. Bush is on record lying about far more than this, and it is increasingly likely that the media will begin to expose this. Once having lost his credibility it is hard for Bush to come up with anything to say which will be believed by a public which increasing realizes the degree to which Bush has been lying to them.


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