Bush’s Poll Numbers Climb
After months of freefall, President Bush’s poll numbers have seen an uptick this week. Today’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll is the latest showing the trend.
Since his second inauguration in January, President Bush has seen a steady decline in his overall job performance, the economy, and Iraq. But the free-fall appears to be over, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. For the first time in months, BushÃ¢€™s job approval has increased, albeit by one point. In addition, as elections take place Thursday in Iraq, Americans are more confident about success there than they were a month ago. And an overwhelming majority backs BushÃ¢€™s stance that the United States should not immediately withdraw all of its troops from Iraq.
ThatÃ¢€™s the good news for the administration. The bad news is that strong majorities still disapprove of Bush and his handling of key issues. Ã¢€œClearly, the president is better off,Ã¢€ said Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. Ã¢€œHeÃ¢€™s not really in good health, but he is no longer hemorrhaging. McInturff compares BushÃ¢€™s standing to someone who has been sliding down a mountain, but who finally gained a foothold to stop the fall. And he says that alone is a positive development for the president. Ã¢€œYou canÃ¢€™t get better until you stop the bad numbers,Ã¢€ McInturff said.
According to the poll, 39 percent approve of BushÃ¢€™s handling of his job while 55 percent disapprove. ThatÃ¢€™s a slight improvement from the NBC/Wall Street Journal survey last month, when 38 percent gave him a thumbs-up. In fact, itÃ¢€™s the first time since January that BushÃ¢€™s job-approval rating has increased in the poll.
The survey of 1,006 adults, which was taken from Dec. 9-12 and which has a margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percent, comes after a month in which Bush has tried to dominate the political discourse.
The latest Zogby Poll, though, shows that the GOP still has plenty to worry about:
A key measurement of partisan advantage in the United States Congress shows Democrats with a substantial lead in public opinion as the nation heads into 2006 and the important mid-term election season, a new Zogby International survey shows. Asked if they would Ã¢€œdefinitelyÃ¢€ or Ã¢€œprobablyÃ¢€ vote for the Democrat or Republican in next yearÃ¢€™s fall congressional election, 48% said the Democrat would get their support, compared to 40% who said they would vote for the Republican. While 3% said they plan on supporting a third-party candidate, 9% said they were unsure.
The poll shows weakness for Republicans among demographic groups that are typically supportive. In Ã¢€œredÃ¢€ states that favored George W. Bush in the presidential election last year, generic congressional Republicans hold a 46% to 43% advantage over their generic Democratic counterparts. But in Ã¢€œblueÃ¢€ states won by Democrat John Kerry last year, the Democratic lead is much larger Ã¢€” there the congressional Democrat leads by a 54% to 34% margin.
Republicans hold a narrow 45% to 43% lead over Democrats among married respondents, who typically favor Republicans by much larger margins. Catholics, whose support for Mr. Bush last year was of key importance, now support congressional Democrats by ten percent, 45% to 35%.
The survey shows that, should President Bush campaign for a congressional candidate, 51% of self-identified independents would be less likely to support that candidate, while just 22% would be more likely to support him. Vice President Cheney has a similar effect.
These numbers aren’t really surprising, given the general anxiety about the war and the economy, especially after a decade of GOP majorities (with the brief exception of the period between Jim Jeffords’ 2001 defection and the 2002 election) in both Houses.
The 2006 primaries will be upon us soon and several strong potential Republican candidates have decided not to make bids in key races. Still, there’s plenty of time for President Bush to get his numbers up. If things continue to go well in Iraq and with the national economy, that will almost certainly happen.
Full disclosure: My wife is an executive at Bill McInturff’s firm, Public Opinion Strategies. I have no inside knowledge of their polling results, however, and found the MSNBC link via Memeorandum.