Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Bush Approval: 40% in CNN and ABC/WP

Two new polls continue to support the upward trend in approval of President Bush's handling of his job. The CNN/ORC poll, conducted 8/2-3/06, finds approval at 40% and disapproval at 59%. ABC/Washington Post, 8/3-6/06 has approval at 40% and disapproval at 58%.

With the addition of these data points, my trend estimate (the dark blue line) stands at 39% (38.98 if you must know).

As I discussed earlier here, the upward trend seems to be in two parts-- one rather sharp rise between May 12 and June 19 and a slower but still positive phase since June 19. The former saw a rise of 1% in approval for each 13.4 days. With the updated estimates including today's CNN and ABC/WP polls, the trend from June 19-August 6 is now estimated at 1 point each 22.3 days, a bit higher than when last estimated, though still well below the May-June rate.

With President Bush at the ranch, and the August doldrums (what CT primary?!) upon us, I'll be looking to see if this rise starts to falter. Despite some earlier hints that the trend had flattened or even started down (discussed here) the evidence now seems pretty strong to me that the upward trend has in fact been stable since June 19, despite world problems, the stem cell veto which polls show a majority disapproved, and lack of significant legislative successes. So it is interesting that approval has continued to rise.

Gallup data show a noticeable rise in support among Independents as a major contributor to the current upturn. (These data are behind Gallup's subscription only site, so I can't show you the plot.) The estimated trends show that Independent approval has risen from 25% on April 30 to 34.7% as of July 30. While that is still quite low on an absolute scale, the 9.7% rise among Independents is a substantial improvement.

(These are estimates based on my trend model, NOT Gallup's raw percentages by PID. As all my analysis here shows, I think it is crucial that we model the trend while removing the random noise around that trend. Gallup's actual percent approval among Independents has registered values below my estimated low of 25%.)

Among Republicans there has also been some improvement in approval from an estimated low of 76.6% on April 9 to 81.9% as of July 30. In contrast among Democrats the trend has been completely flat over this period, with a current estimate of 9.4% approval.

This leaves the question of where approval among Independents is headed. At the moment it appears to still be rising. At 34.7% the level is still low enough to be good for Democrats, but it isn't as good as it was three months ago. For Republicans, the question is can Independent approval rise enough to be helpful in Novemeber. The exceptionally wide gap in approval between Republicans and Independents means that the Republican identifiers remain strongly behind the President, but that huge gap between them and Independents means the solid "base" may not be enough by itself to compensate for low approval among Independents (and nearly universal disapproval among Dems, who may be extra motivated to turn out this fall.)

Can Dems offer campaign appeals that will turn the Independent trend around, and can the Reps either continue the upward trend or divorce themselves enough from the President that the low level of approval doesn't harm them as much as it might if Republican congressional candidates were closely linked to President Bush? I'm not sure "base" appeals will resonate with independents. But that might be equally true of both parties.

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