More on Bush, Polls and 2004
If you don’t think that Bush’s credibility over Iraq won’t be a factor next year, read this summary of a poll completed last week by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes.
The percentage of people who now believe that Bush and his administration were presenting evidence they knew to be false to justify the decision to go to war last March has doubled from ten percent five months ago to 21 percent in the new PIPA polls, which conducted its survey of more than 1,000 adults contacted at random from October 31 through November 10.
Moreover, there was an 11 percent rise in the percentage of respondents who say Bush's performance on Iraq would make them less likely to vote for him in next year's presidential elections--from 31 percent in September to 42 percent--according to PIPA director, Steve Kull.
An overwhelming 87 percent of the public said they believe that the administration portrayed Iraq as an imminent threat to the United States before the war. While 42 percent believe that the administration was justified in that depiction, 58 percent said they now believe the administration did not have the evidence to sustain it.
On the specific question of the administration's claims about Iraq's alleged WMD programs, a total of 72 percent (up from 63 percent in July) said the administration did not have the evidence to support such claims, with 21 percent saying the administration knew that the evidence it was presenting was false and 51 percent saying that the administration was ''stretching the truth."
Significantly, a large number of those polled believe that Bush was determined to go to war regardless of the actual evidence. Sixty-three percent said the president would have attacked Iraq if U.S. intelligence agencies had told him there was no reliable evidence that Iraq possessed or was building WMD or was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, according to the poll.
These figures help explain the decline in Bush's credibility with the public. Only 42 percent said that the president is honest and frank in his public statements, while 56 percent said they have doubts about what he says.
And after a slight bump up in his approval ratings over the last several weeks due to the White House spin job on allegedly improving economic numbers, the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll just completed shows Bush with his highest disapproval ratings once again, 47% as compared to an all-time low approval rating of 50%. Again, keep in mind this poll was completed yesterday after the White House did everything it could to drum up the message that the economy was getting better thanks to Bush and his policies.
Yet after having said all of this, Dana Milbank of all people in tomorrow’s Post argues that by historical comparisons Bush will be reelected because of a solid grip on his base and a lack of a primary challenger.
And finally, as he heads to Great Britain, Bush will find a people who are not very impressed with him, but who still have faith in America, something that the English media try to reinforce to their credit.