Lower Than Low

A new Reuters/Zogby poll provides some particularly bad news for the president.  At a time when presidential approval numbers were as low as believed possible, the President has actually managed to drop even further, his new approval rating an abysmal 24%.

I don’t think it particularly difficult to understand why Bush’s numbers have fallen so catastrophically low.  Public support for the Iraq War is still in the basement (that is not to say that there aren’t still some folks who are supportive of the effort, it’s just that despite the bleating from its most vocal supporters, very few people have hopped back on the Iraq War Is A Great Thing bandwagon), but I don’t think Iraq alone would be quite enough to drive the president’s numbers even lower than they already were.

The obvious explanation would have to be the recent veto of the proposed SCHIP expansion which again cut against the grain of the American public by a large margin (about 70% of Americans actually favored the bill).  The point is that, as Jon Stewart pointed out during a recent interview with Tony Snow, the subtle difference between Bush’s definition of leadership, and that of truly good leadership is that where actual leadership involves making tough decisions, but making them correctly and getting the rest of the people to eventually see things that way, Bush simply makes tough decisions and makes them poorly.

There is a reason why such things like Social Security are referred to as political third rails; you touch them, you get burned.  What we may be seeing right now is the SCHIP program being elevated to just such a status.

But, neither does congress have much to celebrate in this poll either.  While they have not dropped, they have not managed to climb away from their dismally low 11% approval rating.  Given that there was no movement in either direction on this number, I think it is safe to say that SCHIP here has yet to play much of a part; that will have to be determined after we know whether they will be able to override the veto or not (if they do I wouldn’t be surprised to see congress get at least a couple of points out of it, and if they fail, again I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw them lose ground, possibly dipping into single digits).

I’ve already cvered before the phenomenon which I believe explain how congressional approval is lower than the president; the crux of the matter being that people are not being asked to rate their own representatives, but those of everyone else in the country as well, and so while Bush is only subjected to those who support him and those who don’t, you will tend to find greater negatives in congressional metrics simply because you are going to be measuring negatives from both sides of any debate.

Like Bush, though, congress is suffering primarily from the conflict in Iraq, however the nature of this dissatisfaction is slightly different, and far more broad in scope.  While the President is being taken to task by the public for bad policies and decision making, congress is suffering from not being able to accomplish anything of significance.  In fact,the only legislation that seems to have made it on the books as of late has been either non binding, or a condemnation of private parties excercizing their freedom of speech.

On the issue that Americans care about most, however, Congress, particularly the Democratic Leadership, has gone belly up.  There have as of late been signs for hope in the actions of key House members who have broken with the Democratic leadership in their pledge to drive to a halt the Iraq War, but again, these are merely pledges that have yet been put into practice.

The end result is that the elections next fall are up for grabs, and one of the more ingrained aspects of American politics, the advantage an incumbant enjoys in an election, will likely be turned on its head.  Again, as I’ve predicted in the past, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some competitive primary challenges for democratic seats and some previous strongholds weaken if these numbers continue to play out like this.

Finally, Republicans should not take the moment to rejoice.  The failures of the Democratic leadership are only partly to blame.  Another huge factor in the low approval rating is also Republican obstructionism that has, along with Bush, often voted deeply against the will of the public.  No better example comes to mind than the proposal of a no confidence vote that many Republicans who did in fact have no confidence still voted against to prevent Democrats in Congress from tallying up a political win.  It is this partisan rancor that is at the heart of mass disgust the public holds for the legislative branch, and I wouldn’t be too terribly hopeful to be rewarded for it.

2 Responses to “Lower Than Low”

  1. xranger says:

    And Congress is at 11%.

    Kudos all around.

  2. xranger says:

    WASHINGTON (AP) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday the prospects of a vote on Armenian genocide were uncertain, after several members pulled their support amid fears it would cripple U.S. relations with Turkey.

    Yeah, that Democrat-led Congress is relevant these days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook