As Bush Campaigns, Newsweek Says GOP Numbers Drop
Reuters photo of Bush thrilling the faithful last night in Iowa
The most recent Newsweek poll shows that Bush’s approval rating has fallen to 35% and the Democratic advantage in the generic ballot question has now increased to 16 points amongst likely voters. Newsweek reports that as Bush travels the country, their poll has found that support for GOP candidates actually falls.
As President George W. Bush jets across Red State America this weekend, Republican candidates are falling further behind Democratic rivals, according to the new NEWSWEEK poll. While the GOP has lagged behind Democrats throughout the campaign season, the trend in the past month—when NEWSWEEK conducted four polls in five weeks—had suggested the Republicans were building momentum in the homestretch.
No more. The new poll finds support for Republicans (and for President Bush) receding. For example, 53 percent of Americans want the Democrats to win enough seats to take control of one or both houses of Congress in the midterm elections on Tuesday. Those results are close to early October levels, while less than a third of Americans (32 percent) want Republicans to retain control. If the elections were held today, 54 percent of likely voters say they would support the Democratic candidate in their district versus 38 percent who would vote for the Republican-a 16-point edge for the Democrats.
Despite round-the-clock coverage of John Kerry’s Iraq gaffe this week and non-stop rallies in which the President paints Democrats as weak-on-terror tax lovers, the political momentum has returned to the Democrats. Maybe that’s because nearly a third of registered voters (32 percent) now say Iraq is the most important issue in deciding their vote. The economy comes in second at 19 percent. And just 12 percent say terrorism, the Republican trump card in the last three elections, is their most important issue. In fact, as millions of Americans fill in their employers’ health-care selection forms for next year, terrorism is statistically tied with health care at 11 percent.
Both the New York Times and the Washington Post are out with stories reporting that the House is slipping away from the GOP.
Republicans entered the campaign's final weekend yesterday desperately trying to keep control of the Senate, with three or four tossup races likely to determine whether the GOP can cling to power there even as it sees its hold on the House eroding.
Democrats "should pick up five to seven (Senate) seats," said Stuart Rothenberg, who writes a nonpartisan political newsletter from Washington. If he had to guess, he said, "I expect the Democrats to win six seats," but the outcome is far from certain.
The picture in the House remains grim for Republicans, with analysts from both parties predicting that Democrats will pick up the 15 seats they need for the majority, and possibly twice that number. The Senate, once thought beyond the Democrats' reach, is the focal point of the campaign's final sprint.
For House Republicans, the political terrain appears to be eroding beneath their feet, several analysts said. GOP seats that only a week ago seemed to be solidifying -- such as those held by Reps. Charles Bass in New Hampshire, Marilyn Musgrave in Colorado, Melissa Hart in Pennsylvania, John E. Sweeney in New York, Jim Ryun in Kansas, J.D. Hayworth in Arizona and Richard W. Pombo in California -- are turning very soft.
"The bottom just fell out," said Amy Walter, a House analyst at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Her publication predicted yesterday that Republicans will lose 20 to 35 seats. Rothenberg predicted a 34-to-40-seat Democratic gain. "The House is gone," he said.
As for the New York Times, Adam Nagourney and Robin Toner have just posted a new piece on the Times’ website mid-day today that reports the GOP knows the House is gone, and is trying to hold the Senate. But note how
they the NYT have since changed the headline from “Republicans Resigned to Idea of Big Losses” to a softer “GOP Glum as It Struggles to Hold Congress.” Sounds like someone from the RNC called Nagourney to change that headline. To be fair here, neither Nagourney nor Toner write the headlines to their pieces, and upon reflection the content of the two pieces is almost identical, so my initial observation assumed facts not in evidence. The GOP is readying itself to lose the House.
The battle for Congress rolled into a climactic final weekend with Republican Party leaders saying the best outcome they could foresee was losing 12 seats in the House. But they were increasingly steeling themselves to the loss of at least 15 and therefore control of the House for the first time in 12 years.
“It’s the worst political environment for Republican candidates since Watergate,” said Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster working in many of the top races this year.
Joe Gaylord, who was the political lieutenant to Newt Gingrich when Mr. Gingrich led the Republican takeover of the House in 1994, said that based on polling he had seen in recent weeks, he expected his party to lose from 25 seats to 30 seats Tuesday. That general assessment was repeatedly echoed in interviews by Republicans close to the White House and the Republican National Committee.
“It’s very grim,” Mr. Gaylord said. “Things are dreadful out there.”
As eR said earlier today, it will all come down to whether or not Democrats and independents turn out to vote or not.