Bush's approval rating has taken a slight dip since the last NEWSWEEK Poll in mid-August. While 38 percent of respondents approved and 55 percent disapproved of his job performance back then, now 36 percent approve and 56 percent disapprove. That approval figure nearly matches the president's all-time low of 35 percent in May. Some potential factors contributing to that slippage: his handling of the economy (with 37 percent approving and 58 percent disapproving) and the situation in Iraq (31 percent v. 63 percent). Both of these results also approach all-time lows. The only semblance of a silver lining remains his handling of terrorism and homeland security, with 49 percent approving and 45 percent disapproving. But unfortunately for Bush, his approval rating on that issue edged downward as well, from 55 percent in mid-August. According to the poll, Democratic congressional candidates continue to hold an edge over their Republican rivals, by a 50-38 percent margin. That's consistent with other NEWSWEEK polls from earlier in the year.So what's it all mean? It means plenty. Not only do Presidential preferences matter historically, but the current Republican strategery is coming unravelled. Some in the media get it; from the LA Times on Chris Shays:
Although he is not the first Republican to part company with Bush on the conduct of the war, Shays is the most prominent pro-war voice so far to call for a timetable for withdrawal.This reflects the backstepping that prominent conservatives (yes, conservatives) like McCain, Hagel and Lieberman have done on Iraq.
And experts think there will be many Republican defections to come in the months leading up to the November election.
Why would Republicans (and the Party of One) feel forced to do so? Several things have coalesced over the summer:
- Iraq is both a failure of Bush performance and policy
While we can argue about how to get out, the conclusion denied by the WH is nonetheless conventional wisdom
- Katrina was and is a failure both of Bush performance and policy
The anniversary is coming, and the spotlight on NOLA will not be pretty
- The war on terror is a failure of Bush performance and policy
Most people do not think we are winning; those who buy the crap about iraq being part of it are just as likely to feel that way as those who don't.
In his remarks, Mann also cautioned Democrats to not let the GOP somehow turn the election into a prospective, future-oriented question, but to make it as much a retrospective assessment of Bush in the Republicans. (No shocker there.) He also said Democrats ought to not only figure out a way to make Iraq--Bush's biggest liability--into as big a liability as possible. I would add that Democrats ought to figure out a way to make terrorism--still Bush's lone, if thin asset--a liability as well...with a concerted, simple message rolled out three weeks before the election: "Where's Osama?"It's why Stu Rothenberg changes the status report this week:
It's why the polls don't show the vaunted national security bounce for Bush. And it's why the irate moderates and centrists of CT voted for Ned Lamont instead of Joe Lieberman.
Our latest race-by-race review of Congressional districts around the country convinces us that a Democratic wave is building and that the party is poised to take control of the House of Representatives in the fall. The only question now is the size of the November wave.
Update [2006-8-26 12:21:12 by DemFromCT]:: It's why Republican staffers on the Hill are nervous.
A political indicator of hard times ahead for Republicans is frantic activity during the current congressional recess by GOP staffers contemplating life under a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
Several Republican aides, including many working for House members from safe seats, are seeking employment elsewhere. Most of them have never worked under Democratic control and dread the prospect of minority status on Capitol Hill.
Other aides, working on House committee staffs, would lose those jobs in a Democratic House and want to transfer now to work for safe Republican members.
Look at NOLA. Look at Baghdad. And where's Osama? Republicans have no answer other than changing the subject. That's what happens with a failure of both performance and ideology. And the moderates and centrists that make up the majority of this country know it.