Friday, December 12, 2003

Not in the polls
Gallup has a new presidential approval poll . Bush's numbers are up a little, but there is no real dramatic change anywhere. In a question about the Baghdad trip, people liked it better than they did the aircraft carrier stunt. His war on terrorism numbers went up, his war on the economy numbers went down, and his war on Medicare numbers stayed the same. Gallup says, all in all, he is just about average for a third year president. So, nothing interesting here.

I noticed one trend that hasn't been much commented on. As Bush's numbers have bumped against fifty a few times this fall, the usual observation is to point out that he's back where he was before 9/11. That's not quite true. While his approval rating is back in the Q3 2001 range, his disapproval rating is much higher. On the November 14-16, 2003 poll he hit 50 percent, which just about matched the September 7-10, 2001 approval rating of 51 percent. But his disapproval number in 2001 was 39 percent with 10 percent undecided. His 2003 number was 47 percent with just 3 percent undecided. Essentially, all of the reduction in his undecideds has been toward the negative.

To be at fifty percent with a twelve point lead and to be at fifty percent with a four point lead is not the same thing. That doesn't mean we're winning yet, but it does mean he's vulnerable.

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