With the federal government’s response to Katrina now almost two weeks old, and with Rove’s “blame the local Democrats” strategy now nearly a week old, how is Bush doing? Not very well, and he is taking his party down with him for 2006, according to a new Newsweek poll out today taken through yesterday. According to the poll, Bush’s job approval is down to 38%, its lowest level ever in the poll and even one point lower than the AP/Ipsos poll out just yesterday.
In Katrina’s wake, the president’s popularity and job-approval ratings have dropped across the board. Only 38 percent of Americans approve of the way Bush is doing his job overall, a record-low for this president in the NEWSWEEK poll. (Fifty-five percent of Americans disapprove of his overall job performance.) And only 28 percent of Americans say they are “satisfied with the way things are going” in the country, down from 36 percent in August and 46 percent in December, after the president’s re-election. This is another record low and two points below the satisfaction level recorded immediately after the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal came to light. Fully two-thirds of Americans are not satisfied with the direction of the country.
More critical to President Bush—and the GOP’s future as the nation’s majority party: most Americans, 52 percent, say they do not trust the president “to make the right decisions during a domestic crisis” (45 percent do). The numbers are exactly the same when the subject is trust of the president to make the right decisions during an international crisis.
Bingo, and there goes Mr. Bush’s Teflon.
Similarly, public approval of the president’s policies on issues from the economy (35 percent) to the war in Iraq (36 percent) to terrorism and homeland security (46 percent) have suffered. Demonstrating the widespread havoc that Katrina has wrought on the president’s political fortunes—even far from issues of disaster response—for the first time in the four years since 9/11, more Americans disapprove of Bush’s handling of terrorism and homeland security than approve of it.
And how does this translate into a problem for the GOP in 2006?
Reflecting the tarnished view of the administration, only 38 percent of registered voters say they would vote for a Republican for Congress if the Congressional elections were held today, while 50 say they would vote for a Democrat.
A twelve-point advantage for the Democrats this early, without even having to lay out an alternate vision? Pretty lethal, and not likely to change given the empty toolbox that Mr. Bush had and his ineptitude in running the government day-to-day.
As I’ve said, 38% might be the bedrock, but many of you think the true base of cultist support is actually lower. We will now get a chance to find out. But how many GOP incumbents next year want to go along for the ride?