Will Dubai Deal Cost The GOP Control Of Congress?
Exactly how important is the Dubai deal to George W. Bush? Is it worth his presidency? Another poll came out tonight, this time the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll, and aside from showing Bush’s job approval rating falling to 38% (with 58% disapproval), it appears that the Dubai deal has cost Bush his advantage with the public on his handling of terrorism.
For the first time ever, Bush’s rating on terrorism was negative (54%), with only 44% approving. More noteworthy however is the finding that 41% “strongly disapproved”.
On Iraq, only a third approved of his performance and a whopping 63% disapproved, with 48% of those “strongly” disapproving.
Ron Brownstein in a piece for tomorrow’s Los Angeles Times, puts his finger on the problem Bush has created for his party this coming November:
Buffeted by resistance to the port transaction and discontent over the turmoil in Iraq, President Bush's approval rating fell to 38%, the lowest level recorded for him in the poll. His disapproval rating rose to 58%.
And in a trend that could affect turnout in the November midterm elections, Bush confronts what might be called an intensity gap: the percentage of Americans who said they strongly disapprove of his performance on a wide range of issues greatly exceeded the share who strongly approve.
Politically, the most troubling finding for Republicans in the survey may be the intensity gap evident on many questions. The Republican victories in the 2002 and 2004 elections derived largely from Bush's ability to generate a huge turnout of hard-core Republicans passionately committed to him.
But in the new survey, Bush is generating much more ardor in opposition than support. That could affect turnout in the November elections that will decide control of Congress.
A striking 43% of voters said they strongly disapprove of Bush's overall performance, more than double the 19% who strongly approve. Among women, a 47% plurality now strongly disapprove — almost triple the 18% who strongly approve.
The Dubai deal faced opposition from virtually every broad segment of Americans. Overall, just 17% of those surveyed said they supported the agreement, while 58% opposed it; the rest said they did not know enough to express an opinion.
Reacting to the finding, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said, "The politics of this are not good. The process [for evaluating such deals] seems to be broken, and we need to fix it."
And therein lies the trap for the GOP: except for the Duncan Hunters and others, the vast majority of the House and Senate GOP are hoping they can skate by this tar pit by complaining about the process and letting Bush get his way, because they don’t have the guts to challenge him directly. Yet the depth of public disapproval of this deal and the imagery of selling off critical assets to Arab states is lethal for the GOP this fall, and Democrats will exploit this into taking back at least one house of Congress.