BUSH AND THE POLLS
Matthew Yglesias, thinks recent polls should give hope to Democrats, although he acknowleges that polls this far out aren’t of much value in predicting an election 14 months out.
Newsweek reports that only 44 percent of the public wants to see Bush reelected, as opposed to the 49 percent who do not. Zogby has a similar result with 45 percent saying Bush “deserves to be reelected” and 48 percent saying “it’s time for someone new.” On the other hand, when Zogby asked “If the election for president were held today and the candidates were Republican George W. Bush and a Democrat, for whom would you vote” things were looking better for Bush, who scored a (statistically insignificant) 43/42 lead over the unnamed Democrat.
It’s hard to know if this is simply reflecting the changed wording of the question or whether a significant number of the 49-48 percent of the public who doesn’t like Bush is hoping for a third party candidate of some sort. Either way, the implication appears to be that Bush’s popularity, insofar as it exists at all, currently rests more on dislike of the Democratic opposition than on love for Bush, something echoed, I think, both in the blogosphere and the punditsphere where the right seems to have many more bad things to say about Bush-bashers than good things to say about their boy.
I think the desire for “someone new” is more of a sign of malaise than anything else. The economy is rather blah and the rebuilding of Iraq is bringing a steady dose of negative news with little in the way of exciting developments to counterbalance it. Plus, not much is happening in Washington with everyone off on vacation.
Bush isn’t likely to be that exciting to the punditocracy since we’re substantially more ideological than any real politician can afford to be. The blogosphere is overloaded with libertarian types and the professional pundits tend to be of a more traditional conservatism. Bush doesn’t really excite either camp, since he’s phenomenally moderate and detached on most issues. And, of course, unnamed candidates carry no baggage–you can make them whatever you want them to be. Most of the people polled, frankly, are quite rationally not paying any attention whatsoever to politics right now. Few Americans could tell you three things about Howard Dean, for example. Indeed, most people would think he’s the breakfast sausage guy.
For a lot of reasons, I think Bush is quite beatable. But the only thing I’d take from the polls this far out is that he isn’t generating a lot of enthusiasm at the moment.