. . . Wednesday April 28, 2004

Approval Slip and Slide

In a society where Yankee fans can actually boo Derek Jeter, I guess anything is possible.

So maybe all the bad news (and revelations) facing the Bush administration will finally start to take a toll at the polls. According to the latest survey from a CBS/NY Times poll, the President is suffering the lowest approval ratings since he took office.

One of the most damaging poll numbers indicates that 41% of Americans think that the war in Iraq actually increased the threat of terror against Americans. That is a whopping stat. It definitely looks bad when the a President who is basing his entire campaign on security issues is perceived as making his fellow citizens less safe. I’m not sure that people necessarily have it right on this one. It’s pretty tough to measure the level of the terror threat in the few moments one has to ponder questions posed by a pollster who just interrupted his or her dinner. The irony here is that the war in Iraq probably never had much to do with the war on terrorism in the first place. Positioning it as such could backfire.

Other numbers:

Fewer than half of Americans believe that the U.S. did the right thing in taking military action. That’s another question that is difficult to answer because we know so little about why we actually did it in the first place.

Only 32% believe Iraq required immediate attention. This is an interesting one as it has become wildly clear, regardless of one’s view of the overall effort, that there was no immediate threat of any kind. Give the administration some PR credit for keeping this number above Pi.

70% of Americans don’t believe that the decision to go to war was made when the administration said it was made. Notice that this means that a significant percentage of Americans think their President lied to them about the most important topic any president ever discusses and yet still plan to vote for his re-election. This is both a depressing indication of the partisanship at any cost nature of the times and/or a reflection of just how low our expectations are when it comes to honesty among leaders.

Even if Bush’s low numbers do not improve at all (46% overall approval rating, 41% approval on Iraq, and 40% approval on foreign policy), he would still be likely to win a November race if Nader stays in.

What seems to be the trend here is that a lot of people are getting tired of Bush. But not enough people are getting excited about Kerry. Sure, the Senator has a rep for being the comeback Kerry and we’ve got a long way to go. But it would be nice to see signs that this is a two man race (and I’m not talking about Nader).

The poll number I’d really like to see is how many Americans, upon watching Bush and Cheney walk into their joint testifying session with the 9-11 panel, sort of think that Cheney is really the president.

Maybe that’s Kerry problem. He needs to hurry up and pick a vice presidential candidate so now-conditioned Americans will finally know who is going to be in charge.

Concentration is important!