With His Base Support Falling, Bush Sees "Right Track" Figure Fall To Only 28%
AP/Ipsos has its latest poll out just now, and Bush’s approval rating is stuck at 39%, even after whatever bump he got from the Roberts confirmation and from doing slightly better in responding to Rita. More worrisome however is the fact that the “right track-wrong track” numbers are the worst ever for this administration in this poll. Only 28% of those polled think the country is headed in the right direction, and 66% think we are headed in the wrong direction.
But numbers are one thing. Who exactly are souring on the direction of the country?
Evangelicals, Republican women, Southerners and other critical groups in President Bush's political coalition are increasingly worried about the direction the nation is headed and disappointed with his performance, an AP-Ipsos poll found.
The growing unease could be a troubling sign for a White House already struggling to keep the Republican Party base from slipping over Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, Gulf Coast spending projects, immigration and other issues.
"Politically, this is very serious for the president," said James Thurber, a political scientist at American University. "If the base of his party has lost faith, that could spell trouble for his policy agenda and for the party generally."
Those most likely to have lost confidence about the nation's direction over the past year include white evangelicals, down 30 percentage points, Republican women, 28 points, Southerners, 26 points, and suburban men, 20 points.
Bush's supporters are uneasy about issues including federal deficits, immigration and his latest nomination for the Supreme Court. Social conservatives are concerned about his choice of Miers, a relatively unknown lawyer who has most recently served as White House counsel.
Almost two-thirds of Republicans strongly approved of the job done by Bush in December 2004, soon after his re-election. The AP-Ipsos survey found that just half in his own party feel that way now.
The intensity of support for Bush's job performance has also dropped sharply among white evangelicals, Southerners, people from rural areas and suburban men.
The base is having heartburn over the direction of the country, and the only way the GOP can turn that around is to move farther to the right, which is a given for the 2006 midterms. But the Miers nomination, the runaway spending, the emerging concerns even within the base about the war in Iraq all gang up to give Bush few options for keeping the base happy going into 2006 except to blame the blacks and immigrants and to make evangelicals feel like they are victims once again. Up until recently, I would have said that a war scare with Iran or Syria would do the trick also, and the rhetoric from Bush and Blair in the last couple of days seemed to signal such a campaign was coming. But this poll apparently showed that even Bush's base was souring on Iraq, so you wonder just how effective another diversionary war would be on his base.