Friday, April 07, 2006

Presidential approval at 36% is new low for AP poll

The Associated Press poll completed 4/3-5/06 registered its lowest approval rating of President Bush, with 36% approval and 62% disapproval. Approval has declined from 40% in early February (2/6-8). The 1% decline since March 6-8 is not statistically significant. (See here for the problem of assessing change in consecutive polls.)

This new low comes on the heels of Fox's reading of 36% in a poll also completed on April 5. (See here). The Fox reading tied that poll's record low, registered in early November 2005.

These two new polls further suggest that approval has continued to decline, though at a slower rate than in February. My linear model continues to predict approval ratings that are too low: the current prediction is 35.5% approval, which is below the two most recent ratings of 36%. On the date of the latest Time poll, my model forecast 36.1% while Time's reading was 37%. So this does provide evidence that the decline is slower than my model predicts. If my linear model were capturing approval dynamics well we should see some polls above and others below my forecast. While recent polls are close to the predicted value, all are a bit above the predicted values. The clear bend in the local regression fit is also evidence for a slowing of the downward trend. Nevertheless, these data are still consistent with my previous claim that approval was continuing to decline despite arguments by others that it had stopped declining.

The AP results find low approval across a range of issues: handling the economy: 39-59; domestic issues: 37-60; foreign policy and the war on terror: 40-58; Iraq: 35-63; Katrina relief: 37-59. In short, the president has no strong suit left to play.

Republicans in congress also are suffering from declining support. The AP asked "If the elections for Congress were held today, would you want to see the Republicans or Democrats win control of Congress?" Republicans: 33%, Democrats: 49%.

Even a long term Republican strength has now reached parity: "Who do you trust to do a better job protecting the country?", Republicans 41%, Democrats 41%.

And "Who do you trust to do a better job handling the situation in Iraq?", Republicans 39%, Democrats 42%.

These results will make Democrats giddy with expectation and Republicans glum. For these views to translate into electoral success, however, Democratic congressional candidates must successfully transform this discontent into campaign rhetoric and ultimately into votes. That very much remains to be seen.

UPDATE 4/10: The ABC/Washington Post poll is now out. Here is the update.

UPDATE 4/11: Still more data, now from CBS and Gallup. The latest is here.

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