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Bush's Polls Are Much Worse than the Media Pretends
Steve Cobble
Campaign for a Progressive Future

The Conventional Wisdom for the past couple of weeks is that Resident-Select Bush has gotten a bump in the polls, and the media sent him off on his "working vacation" with lots of puff pieces about his recent victories in the House.

(Question: if what Bush is doing now is a working vacation, does that make the napping/exercising/goofing off he does in D.C. "work vacating"?)

As always with the Shrub, however, there were some interesting, and largely overlooked items in those polls.

For instance, the same 7/30 ABC/Washington Post poll that gave Bush a 59% job approval rating, also showed him with a 38% disapproval rating--a 15% gain in disapproval since his 55-23% ratings in late February. 37% answered no to the question of whether Bush told the truth during his campaign about the programs and policies he would follow after becoming president.

Even more interesting, the ABC/Post poll asked those who had voted last November who they would vote for today (among the same candidates). Despite all the hoopla, and all the puff pieces, Bush was below 50% (still!), and barely ahead of Gore. Bush--48%; Gore--46%; Nader--2%; Buchanan--0%.

These numbers were basically confirmed by a new Bloomberg poll that had Bush slightly ahead of Gore, 46-43%. (Maybe Gore's "silent strategy" is not as foolish as all the pundits claim...)

Then there is the 7/29 Zogby poll, which the White House hated because it showed Bush with a net negative job approval rating! (And here it might be appropriate to remind everyone that the Zogby poll was one of the few to predict Bush losing on election day.)

Zogby found 17% of likely voters giving Bush an "excellent" job rating, with another 30% rating it "good", for a total positive of 47%. On the other hand, Zogby found that 34% of likely voters gave Bush only a "fair" job approval rating, while another 17% gave him a "poor" rating, for a total negative rating of 51%.

The partisan breakdown of positive/negative job approval ratings shows deep splits: Republicans back Bush by 80-17%, but Independents give him a net negative of 10% (44-54%), and Democrats flunk him 20-79%. Men pass Bush (barely) by 51-47%, while women fail him by 45-55%. Whites also barely pass him, by 51-45%, while African Americans flunk Bush by a resounding 15-85%.

USA Today/CNN/Gallup ran a poll earlier in July that gave Bush a 57-35% job approval rating. What was not reported, however, were the answers they got to a couple of questions they asked, which readers of www.democrats.com will find interesting:

  • 48% of the respondents agreed that Bush had won "fair and square"; but 50% (fully half) did not! 33% of those polled felt that Bush had won "on a technicality", and 17% (1 out of every 6 Americans) were willing to tell pollsters that they believe that Bush "stole the election"!
  • 73% told the pollsters that they accept Bush as a legitimate president; 15% said that they do not accept him as legitimate, but might in the future; meanwhile, 11% responded that they will never accept Bush as legitimate!

A 7/28 Harris poll found that the Republican Congress has dropped 7% since May. The Harris poll also had horrible numbers for Dick Cheney (and here I should note that other polls do not seem to have uncovered the same free-fall), a drop of 10% in positive approval, and a gain of 14% in negatives, in one month.

The Harris numbers were that 4% gave Cheney an "excellent" rating, with another 35% rating him "good", for only a 39% positive rating. Meanwhile, 39% rated Cheney "only fair", and 12% rated him "poor", for a negative rating of 51%--for a net negative score of -12%.

The Democracy Corps poll of Carville/Greenberg/Shrum published an analysis by Karl Agne of the ABC/Post poll, concluding that "Bush is seen as not only out of step with the majority of Americans but aligned with those whose interests are contrary to those of most Americans."

Democracy Corps cites the following evidence from the ABC/Post poll (and remember, that was a poll that gave Bush one of his highest recent ratings):

  • 54% say he does not "understand the problems of people like you."
  • 53% say he is "not concentrating on things that are important to you personally."
  • by 52-38%, Americans said Democrats in Congress are more open to the ideas of moderates than Bush is.
  • more than 3/4 of Americans (76%) believe wealthy people have too much influence on the Bush White House, 2/3 (67%) say large corporations have too much influence, and 64% say oil and gas companies have too much influence.

Finally, here's a footnote from the Democracy Corps analysis that readers of www.democrats.com will identify with: "Due to consistently one-sided deviation from all other publicly released non-partisan polls, we have dropped all 2001 FOX News polls from our trend analysis."