When the trend is not your friend

Saturday, March 18, 2006 | 09:45 AM

All polls, Presidential Approval Rating
click for larger graph

Infobushpoll05_1

When the trend is not your friend: Do not catch a falling knife !

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The Wall Street Journal (free) looks at the most recent Presidential polling data:

"President Bush and fellow Republicans approach the fall midterm elections facing one political problem above all others: responding to rising public anxiety about Iraq.

The new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll charts the toll that Iraq has taken on the Bush presidency. The survey shows the president's approval rating falling to 37%, a low for Mr. Bush, with disapproval highest for his handling of the war. His party's advantage on handling Iraq has narrowed amid public pessimism about the conflict, helping Democrats open a double-digit edge in voter preferences for controlling Congress.

"At this point in the administration there's one thing that counts, and it's the war in Iraq," says Democrat pollster Peter Hart, who helps conduct the Journal/NBC survey. The war, adds his Republican counterpart Bill McInturff, "is enveloping this presidency." (emphasis added)

Note that both the Republican AND Democratic strategists buy into the War as a catchall blame for the poor polling.

I don't buy it.

This has yet to become conventional wisdom, but I suspect much of the upswing in negativity about the President is in large part traceable to the Katrina debacle; It has bled over to every other category, from the Iraq war to Homeland Security to the Economy.

Barron's comes to a similiar -- even broader -- conclusion; they do not buy into the Iraq War rationale for the poor polling results:

President Bush's job approval rating sank to 37% in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll and has been mired below 40% since last October, the longest stretch of readings that low for a president since the dismal days of the late 'Seventies.

The obvious reason for this divergence of the stock market and the public's assessment of Bush is Iraq, which seems only to go from bad to worse. Well, maybe it's not just Iraq. There's the flap over the aborted Dubai Ports deal, post-Katrina ineptitude, Dick Cheney's winging his hunting companion, the furor over wiretapping without warrants, Social Security reform, budget deficits, trade deficits, the unintelligible Medicare drug plan...enough already, you get the picture. 

Indeed, only 29% of Republicans deemed the Bush White House to be "very competent," according to the WSJ/NBC News poll.  (emphasis added)

I think Barron's is on to something -- its more than merely the Wartime Blues impacting the  White House -- its  a broad variety of issues.

War_blues

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Good news/Bad news: Once a President no longer gets the benefit of the doubt from the electorate -- which Bush enjoyed with regards to 9/11 and Iraq WMD -- he becomes a lame duck.

More from Barron's:

"It makes one shudder to think where Bush's numbers would be if the current Goldilocks economy turns out to be a fairy tale. Say, if the labor market starts to weaken. (Hmmm, initial claims for unemployment insurance have ticked up the past three weeks.) Or the real-estate market starts to crack. (Housing starts are slumping along with mortgage applications, while the supply of unsold homes is building and mortgage delinquencies are on the rise.) Or if there were a major corporate bankruptcy. (General Motors says it lost $2 billion in 2005, more than it previously reported.) If something really bad happened on the economic front, Dubya's numbers would be down around the level of Japanese interest rates."

Well, the good news is that Presidential approval is hardly correlated as a cause of positive market performance . . .


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Sources:
Growing Anxiety About Iraq Threatens Republicans
Bush Approval Rating Hits A Low as War Pessimism Offers Edge for Democrats
JOHN HARWOOD
WSJ, March 16, 2006; Page A4
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114246476954299393.html

Dow and Dubya Diverge
Randall W. Forsyth
UP AND DOWN WALL STREET
Barron's, MONDAY, MARCH 20, 2006
http://online.barrons.com/article/SB114263962587301880.html

Saturday, March 18, 2006 | 09:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (40) | TrackBack (0)
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I agree that the incompetance, the ongoing incompetance regarding Katrina is a major force in the majority abandoning Bush. But the root of Bush's problem is that he is perceived as a liar. I personally do not believe that he has bad intentions, but I do believe that he is not honest regarding his intentions. People thought George Bush was above politics, a man of conviction. Well, Dubai, the leak of the CIA cover, the statement that victory was ours in Iraq years ago, the statement that Iraq was as important as World War 2, and other misstatements have been viewed by many as smoke, lies and unsubstantiated garbage.

We have tuned George W out, because we cannot tell when he is telling the truth or when it is just spin. We know that Carl Rove is a cutthroat and we know that Cheney cannot shoot straight with regard to his involvement in Iraq as a means to bail out Haliburton. We think that maybe Cheney was unprincipled, and that he influenced George W. too much, especially now that we know Cheney could care less what Bush or anyone thought regarding the bird hunt. So, Bush is looking at impeachment, and it will be the Democratic house that will determine this. Bush has made few friends, so maybe he needs to try playing by the rules for a change. Gary

Posted by: Gary Anderson | Mar 18, 2006 10:16:24 AM

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