Bush Approval Falls Precipitously

Well, not exactly.

In the latest survey from Time magazine, George W. Bush's approval rating sits at just 35 percent. When compared to a composite of several polls by Political Arithmetik which shows Bush's approval rating close to 39 percent, the Time poll indicates a real drop in President Bush's approval rating, right?

Well, no. Comparing different polls and cherry-picking data from different surveys isn't good math, so the results of the Time poll do not necessarily indicate that President Bush's approval rating is down four points.

But consider this, for one moment. Had the Time survey shown Bush's approval to be 43 percent instead of 35 -- in other words, had Time come out four points above the mean rather than four points below the mean -- can you not imagine CNN, Fox News and other outlets citing the poll as further evidence of a Bush bounce?

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Republicans Jumping Ship

Rasmussen Reports, a pollster that tends to find results more Republican than other organizations, has picked up on a rather interesting trend over the last few days.

In the latest survey released today by Rasmussen, George W. Bush's approval rating has hit an all-time low of 37 percent -- down four points in as many days. Worst of all for the President and his Republican allies in Congress is the fact that there are now almost three times as many voters who strongly disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as strongly approve, with 45 percent strongly disapproving and just 16 percent strongly approving.

But this is not the only problem for the White House or the Republican Party. Today's survey from Rasmussen shows Bush's approval rating among Republicans to be a mere 66 percent -- more than 20 points below where it was even a year and a half ago. With the Republican base devoid of a drive to support the President -- in effect jumping ship six months out from election day -- the turn out advantage Republicans have traditionally held in midterm elections might disappear entirely.

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Bush Approval Stuck in the Mud

George W. Bush may have arrested his fall in the polls but he certainly has not regained any momentum according to the latest polling from Time magazine.

Despite the fact that the President has expended great effort in the last few days to reconnect with voters, he clearly has not been effective. According to the latest Time survey, which was conducted over the last two days with a margin of error of roughly 3 points, President Bush's approval rating is 37 percent, a statistically insignificant change from 39 percent last week -- though a drop nevertheless.

This was not the most interesting statistic from the poll, however. The Time survey asked a number of questions related to immigration reform and one piece of data particularly stuck out to me. According to the poll, Americans favor allowing illegal immigrants already in the United States to gain citizenship if they have a job, learn English and pay taxes by more than a 3 to 1 margin. So much for the notion that Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to any form of amnesty...

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Gallup: Low Approval Ratings "Could Make Republicans Very Vulnerable"

Regardless of questions about Gallup's polling methodology and possible partisan slant, one thing they certainly have going for them is a wealth of data collected over the years to help provide historical context to the current political environment.

In recent weeks, Republicans have been throwing out every possible argument claiming that they are not really in danger of losing control of the House of Representatives this fall. The Democrats don't have any ideas, they claim, despite the fact that the GOP itself can't even come close to creating a positive vision of their own this year. There aren't enough open seats this year, Republicans say, and the Democrats can't possibly knock off enough GOP incumbents to make up their deficit in the chamber, disregarding the fact that there are actually a significant number of GOP open seats -- in competitive districts, no loss. Finally, things aren't so bad, GOP spinmeisters promise. The problem is, Gallup knows they're wrong and has the historical data to prove it.

A recent Gallup Poll, conducted March 13-16, 2006, finds just 27% of Americans approving (and 65% disapproving) of the way Congress is handling its job. Congress' approval rating has been below 30% since October 2005, and the current rating marks the continuation of a slow descent from record-high congressional approval after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

In fact, the recent ratings of Congress are the worst Gallup has measured in more than a decade. An Oct. 22-25, 1994, Gallup Poll shows 23% of Americans approving of Congress just before a Republican landslide in that year's elections. The lowest approval ratings Gallup has recorded for Congress were 18% in March 1992 and 19% in June 1979.

Not only do the folks at Gallup show that the situation is indeed bad for Republicans by historical standards, they also show evidence of a fairly strong relationship between Congressional approval ratings and election results during midterm elections.

During recent midterm election years, low congressional approval ratings have been associated with greater shifts in the partisan composition of the U.S. House of Representatives. In the five elections since 1974 in which Congress' approval rating was below 40%, the average net change in U.S. House seats from one party to the other was 29. In the three midterm elections in which congressional approval ratings were above 40%, the average change was five seats. [emphasis added]

After nearly 12 years, the American people have seen enough of the Republican House to draw a fairly strong conclusion: they don't like the way the GOP runs things up on Capitol Hill. And if the historical trends prove true this fall -- if the Democrats pick up the average of 29 seats, or even only half of that number -- the United States House of Representatives will be back in Democratic hands come January.

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Congressional Republicans Running Behind Bush in Polling

It is widely believed that President Bush's unpopularity is the driving reason for Republican weakness in recent surveys measuring the public's preference for the next Congress, but polling released this morning by Newsweek seems to undercut that notion.

The Newsweek survey finds President Bush's approval rating to be just 36 percent, with 58 percent disapproving, but believe it or not Congressional Republicans actually fare worse. On the question of which party the public would rather see win control of Congress in November, the public favors Democrats over Republicans by a 50 percent to 34 percent margin. Yes, Congressional Republicans are two points below President Bush. Among independent voters, the margin favoring Democratic control of Congress is even larger -- 51 percent to 22 percent. True, the Democrats hold a narrower 50 percent to 39 percent lead on the question of which party registered voters would actually cast a vote for this November; nevertheless, the fact that voters' general preference for a Democratic Congress appears to be parlaying into a lead in an actual head-to-head contest indicates that voters not only desire change, they are willing to use their votes to accomplish it.

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