As Bush's Numbers Edge Up, Will It Help The GOP In 2006?
There have been several polls of late that show Bush's approval rating on the upswing, and now Gallup's latest poll out today for CNN and USAT shows Bush now registering a 42% approval rating, up from the high 30's in some of their recent polls. This tracks with recent CBS News/NYT and AP/Ipsos polls that also showed Bush nudging his way back into the low 40's. This latest Gallup poll is noteworthy, because pollsters had said recently that Bush will never approach 50 percent approval again until he regains the approval of independents.
In this latest Gallup poll, taken December 9-11, here was the party ID of the sample:
So it would appear that Bush has indeed made gains with independents, and as the story by Susan Page in the USAT notes, Gallup seems to find that Bush's poll numbers are going up simply because he is out talking up Iraq and the economy, and because gas prices have come down. If I was Bush, I would be out there talking up the economy and spinning a good tale on Iraq also, so I can't blame Rove for what he is doing with the speeches and the accentuate-the-positive campaign. Gallup's recent poll on economic optimism showed an uptick as well, but that poll had a GOP bias of five points.
But how will this translate for the 2006 campaign? Well, while Bush is out there talking up his record in permanent campaign mode, there is evidence that the GOP will face a harder time next year than they originally thought. Taegan Goddard notes this morning that right-wing blog Ankle Biting Pundits noted the results of an internal GOP poll released to the House GOP caucus recently shows that Tom DeLay has become a problem for GOP incumbents in swing districts, reinforcing Nancy Pelosi's "culture of corruption" frame.
Another poll released yesterday by RT Strategies and Charlie Cook's Political Report shows that although Bush's approval rating has gone up to 42%, by a 49%-38% margin those polled want the Democrats to control Congress after 2006. And, by an even bigger 13-point margin, those polled said that if they could vote now they would vote for a Democrat for Congress (45%-32%).
Even if Bush is able to pull himself back towards the 50% range in approval, and that is still a big "if" given the difficulties in Iraq, how the economy may go after Christmas, and the ethics clouds looming over this administration and GOP congress, will any of Bush's campaign mode, save-my-ass speeches help the Republicans up for election in 2006? Has Pelosi stumbled upon an effective frame by hammering the "culture of corruption" message over and over again, and can she and Harry Reid put more seats in play by highlighting the need to put more Democrats in Congress to keep an eye on the Bush Administration?
I think so.