First, the political landscape. Bush is loathed in the Northeast, and highly unpopular in parts of the Midwest and California. Most of what were called the swing states give him a 36-40% rating. His solid support in the Plains and the South is mostly a measly 41-45%. (I guess there's not too much the matter with Kansas after all.) Only a handful seem to have any sort of sympathy for him whatsoever. This map is so much more satisfying than the ones from last year. And it supports the idea that we shouldn't abandon certain regions of the country: they are coming to their senses.
Utah and Idaho are looking awfully lonely. Update: Front page discussion here.
But Bush is never running for office again, as many have pointed out. So what does this matter?
Bush is dragging down the party with him. Survey USA lets you see all the data in all the subcategories, and the number of respondents identified as Republican (summed over 50 states) is decreasing since the first 50-state poll last May. It's about a 5% decrease. Maybe they just won't answer their phones anymore? Maybe - but the number of people identified as Conservative or Pro-Life is not decreasing. So maybe they just don't call themselves Republican anymore. And if they don't call themselves Republican, I'm guessing they're not as interested in voting, donating, or volunteering Republican anymore. And that's at least 5% good news.
Identified Republicans are decreasing? Note scale is truncated for exaggeration.
What about on a state level? On a state level there are only one or two hundred Republicans in each sample, so there's a lot more variability. You can estimate the change in the number of Republican respondents with a regression line, like above, but small changes probably don't mean anything with only a few hundred people in the sample. A fair number of states, however, have more than a 10% decrease in Republicans. What is going on in the Carolinas? Most of the South, for that matter, has a decrease of 6% or more. So do a swath of western states, including Montana.
Some states have large decreases in the number of respondents identified as Republican.
This relates to another mystery. How on earth is Bush's approval rating still so stinking high among Republicans? For the November poll, with all 50 states lumped together (not weighted for population), the approval rating is 76%. At least it's down from May's 84%. But it's just falling so slowly. If we look at the map, we see some Republicans are just more loyal than others. Republicans in the Northeast and California see their Grand Old Party running out of booze and only rate Bush in the 60s. Kansas is doing all right, again. But my goodness, if Republicans from the Mountain West aren't a loyal bunch! They just can't let go. We'll find WMD in Iraq soon, surely!
Bush's approval among Republicans varies strongly by region.
But these ratings, I would suggest, are artificially high. We just saw that, overall, and in many states in particular, the number of Republicans is decreasing. And who would leave the Republican designation? Probably not somebody who's really pleased with Bush. Imagine if we start with 100% approval among Republicans, but every time a Republican decides Bush is lame, they change to Independent. No matter how many Republicans change their mind about Bush, the approval among current Republicans will stay at 100%. So let's pretend all Republicans who change party ID don't approve of Bush, and let's rope them back in with their old friends. Now, Bush's hypothetical approval rating for November among all those who were Republicans in May is lowered to 71%. So, instead of dropping 8 points, Bush may have dropped 13 points among Republicans. Quite a difference.
We can't tell for sure if people who change party ID don't like Bush. But we can at least look at it as loss of loyalty. Bush and the Republicans are both threats to the welfare of this country; measuring the decrease in the number of people who are fans of both Bush and the Republicans is a measure of a decreasing threat.
Every state in the country has lost Bush Republicans since May (when estimated by regression). The worst losses are in the mid-Atlantic region. Large losses stretch from the Northeast through the South to the Southwest. And - don't forget Montana. Could it be the governor? But it seems just about nothing will change a Bush Republican's mind in some states.
The number of Bush Republicans is on the decline nationwide.
One final tidbit: Aggregated nationwide, Bush has steadily lost support among both Conservatives and Pro-Life subsets as well. No bounce from nominating Alito.
Comments are closed on this story.