Dems Take Mighty Lead Among Likely Voters

Today, National Public Radio released polling that is as promising for the Democrats as it is worrying for the Republicans.

The survey, conducted by Stan Greenberg and Glen Bolger, shows the Democrats maintaining a robust 52 percent to 37 percent lead on the generic congressional ballot question, when leaners are included. Even without the leaners, Democrats still maintain the 15 point lead, 47 percent to 32 percent. The kicker: the NPR poll surveyed likely, not registered voters.

While it's true that the Democrats have maintained very impressive leads in several recent polls that have included the generic congressional ballot question, almost every one of these previous surveys has measured support either among registered voters or all Americans -- neither of which is necessarily representative of the population going to the polls this November. The poll conducted by Greenberg and Bolger, however, measures support among likely voters, a population that has traditionally been less supportive of Democratic voters than larger groups like registered voters or American adults. Such a large Democratic lead is thus that much more impressive.

Even more important to note, though, is the fact that the generic Democratic lead seems to be holding up among the voters most likely to head to the polls on election day. In some respects, widespread support for Democratic congressional candidates is meaningless if that support does not result in tangible results, namely votes on election day. But if the poll is correct -- if voters are actually poised to go the polls for the Democrats and not poised to go to the polls for the Republicans -- a change in Congressional leadership in January is not only possible, it's probable. So much for the high-paid consultants and analysts who say the Dems aren't going to win this November.

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Strong Disapproval Climb Again for the President

Over in Breaking Blue, John Hull links to the latest AP/Ipsos poll which shows President Bush's approval rating to be 37 percent, with 60 percent voicing disapproval, and the Democrats holding an 11-point lead in the generic congressional ballot question. But perhaps the most interesting part of the poll, which is available here as a .pdf, is the comparison between Bush's overall approval rating and his strong disapproval rating.

Again, as noted above, just 37 percent of Americans approve of the job that George W. Bush is doing as President. Among those are just 18 percent of Americans who are in the strongly approve column. Included in the 60 percent of Americans who disapprove of President Bush, however, are a whopping 41 percent who strongly disapprove. Indeed, there are more Americans who strongly disapprove of the President than there are who approve of him at all -- including those who only lean towards approval.

It is certainly not enough for the Democrats to simply rely on the two-fifths of Americans who strongly disapprove of the President this fall, but in an election that will be at least in part be decided by turnout, the facts that more than two and a quarter times more Americans strongly disapprove of President Bush than strongly approve of him, and that more people strongly disapprove of him than approve of him at all, are great early signs for November.

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President Bush Sinks Further in the Polls

February has not been a good month for the White House. After listening to George W. Bush's State of the Union Address, approval ratings for the President began to fall, and the news of Dick Cheney's hunting accident and the administration's approval of the sale of control over American ports to a company wholly owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates have not played well with the American people. Today, Rasmussen Reports finds President Bush's approval rating to be its lowest in a month and a half, and new polling from the Cook Political Report indicates that the administration is once again nearing a danger zone in terms of dropping support.

The Cook survey, which was conducted by RT Strategies from Friday to Sunday, found President Bush's approval rating to be 40 percent -- down a whopping seven points in the last month. During this time, Bush's disapproval rating also went up four points.

A quick look at the generic congressional ballot numbers might raise some concern among Democrats, as their lead dropped from 12 points in January (51 percent to 39 percent) to nine points this month (47 percent to 38 percent). Such a seeming drop at a time when the President's numbers are also falling might raise questions about the public's faith in the Democratic Party. However, a closer look at the polling from the last two months shows that RT Strategies' methodology changed slightly from January to February, with respondants now having a choice to respond "other" instead of just Republican or Democrat when asked which party they would like to see in control of Congress. When the "other" is taken out of the question and simply the two choices are left in, the share of voters preferring a Democratic Congress to a Republican Congress remains roughly the same (55.3 percent of those chosing either party from 56.7 percent in January).

With sinking approval numbers for the President and continued Democratic strength in generic congressional ballot questions, it sure looks like President Bush is a lame duck already, no?

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Bush Quacks Like a Lame Duck

Now that the American people have had two weeks to digest George W. Bush's State of the Union address, polling indicates that the President's approval ratings are slumping -- the first time they have done so in months.

According to the Gallup poll commissioned by CNN and USA Today, President Bush's approval rating has dropped three points since earlier this month. The official number sits at 39 percent -- the first time since November that Bush has come in below 40 percent approval.

While this poll, in and of itself, might not mean much (Bush's drop is below the margin of error), the trend found in the most recent Gallup survey has been corroborated in polling from other organizations. The latest Harris poll commissioned by the Wall Street Journal shows the President at 40 percent, a three point drop from January. Today's Marist poll also finds President Bush's approval number to be 40 percent, even lower than it was in October following the botched response to Hurricane Katrina. Yet another poll, the one released yesterday by Survey USA, shows President Bush at a 40 percent approval rating, down a point over the last month.

As Chris has stated a number of times in recent months, the key number for President Bush is 43 percent approval. If he can inch up to a respectable number in the mid-forties, the outlook for the Republican Party in November will not be quite as bad; however, if President Bush lingers in the low forties or even the thirties, the GOP will have a very tough time holding both -- or either -- House of Congress.

President Bush's State of the Union address, which could have provided him an opportunity to move above 43 percent, must be deemed a failure. Unless there is a particularly large and effective human/animal hybrid lobby operating around the country, it appears that the American people simply have lost faith or interest in what George W. Bush has to say.

To me, it appears that all the American people are hearing out of the White House is quacking. And when the President sounds like a lame duck and starts acting like a lame duck (banning human/animal hybrids? c'mon), chances are he is a lame duck.

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