Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Prediction Comes Half-True

When composing Wednesday's post I only half-glanced at the linked article that documented the most recent Congressional approval rating. I missed this part of the article:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said President Bush has been a drag on public perception of Congress.

“Any time you have a president who is down so, so far in poll numbers, it drags down city council members, it drags down any elected official — including us, and we recognize that,” Reid said, adding that he met Monday night with a group of pollsters and consultants, one of whom put Bush’s approval rating at 11 percent.

I have some thoughts:

  • Why would Americans associate a Republican president with a Democratic Congress (aside from his spending and immigration policies, both of which were most prominent prior to this plunge into the polling abyss)?
  • The soundness of Reid's spin logic could be tested by looking back at the 1990s - did Clinton's high ratings pull up the ratings of the Republican Congress?
  • Bush has the higher approval rating, as it has been for most if not all of the Reid-Pelosi era - how do we know that Congress isn't the one dragging down Bush's numbers?
  • I believe that the numbers largely reflect the perception that Bush and Congress aren't really doing anything at this time. The numbers will go up when more people perceive that Bush and company aren't just loitering at taxpayer expense.

Update: After further thought, I believe the attitude described in my last point accounts for the political middle much more than it does for the partisans. Each party's base is, very roughly, a third of the electorate. When the approval ratings are in the single digits or just a stone's throw away, it should be clear that neither Bush nor Team Reid/Pelosi has the support of their respective bases. We know why conservatives are fed up with our moderate President - why are so many liberals fed up with the liberal Congress?

Usually when approval ratings are that low the people want new leadership.


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