Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Bush approval: Gallup 37%, ABC/WP 38%

New polling by Gallup (6/23-25/06) and ABC/Washington Post (6/22-25/06) agree on an approval rating around 37-38%. Gallup estimates approval at 37%, with disapproval at 60%, while ABC/WP puts approval at 38% and disapproval at 60%. The estimated trend in approval remains solidly upward sloping (the dark blue line), with a current approval estimate of 37.2%, now up 3.2 percentage points from the all time low estimate for President Bush of 33.98% on May 12.

At least to my eye, there is no evidence yet that the upward trend has changed slope in the last three weeks, or since the upward trend began on May 15. (The dynamics between May 15 and June 8 are difficult to estimate precisely due to relatively few polls, but the upward trend has remained clear with the additional polls taken since June 8 when Zarqawi's death was announced.

My take on this remains that there was little or no apparent "bounce" due specifically to Zarqawi's killing, but that the upward trend in approval began with President Bush's more active engagement with immigration following his May 15 speech, and that trend has been further supported by Zarqawi and Bush's trips.

If my claim is correct, that Bush's immigration position is in fact widely supported by the public (contra the Republican House leadership's position) and that that fact coupled with Bush's leadership on the issue was the stimulus for his improved ratings, then the House leadership's decision to abandon the President on this issue presents new problems for the White House.
Another failed presidential initiative, especially one that had majority (and bipartisan) PUBLIC support, should not help approval ratings in the next few weeks.

The White House has been rather quiet on this issue in the face of the House Republican's slap in the face. Perhaps they believe the issue has been successfully shifted to Iraq and, surprisingly, to the President's benefit in the wake of Zarqawi and the House and Senate votes against "cut and run" proposals. I remain skeptical of that. Iraq appears to me (based on the data) to remain a net negative for the President, even if it can command strong winning majorities in both houses. That reflects a Democratic weakness in congress (and perhaps on the campaign trail), but not necessarily a presidential strength with voters. So I'd bet that increased emphasis on Iraq is more likely to drag down presidential approval in the long run. In the short term, the upturn is based more on immigration and less on Iraq, but the two have become confounded by events which may have led Republican leaders onto an unfortunate course, at least for the White House.

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