Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bush Approval: Still rising

Three new polls continue to support a rise in President Bush's job approval rating. The Cook/RT Strategies poll taken 9/21-24/06 (RV) finds approval at 40%, disapproval at 50%. The Democracy Corps (Greenberg) poll of 9/17-19/06 (LV) has approval at 44, disapproval at 52. And the CNN/ORC poll from 9/22-24/06 (A) reads 42% approve and 55% disapprove. (RV, LV and A are the populations sampled: Registered or Likely voters, and Adults, respectively.)

These results neatly bracket the trend line, which now stands at 41.8% approval. We continue to see the usual variability across polls, but the upward trend has been consistent across a substantial number of polls since mid-August when the current upturn began. So far there is no indication that the rate of increase has changed, and that rate is sharper than either of the two previous rallies since January 2005, having risen some 5 points in 5 weeks.

The question everyone wants answered is what effect will this have on the House and Senate races. So far, not much. The House generic ballot initially moved 2 points in a Republican direction, but has now stabilized. (See my post on the latest Generic Ballot trends here.) In the individual Senate races, the trend has, if anything, favored the Democrats slightly over the most recent polling. (See the Election Scorecard at Slate that Mark Blumenthal and I produce.) The approval rating remains quite low for a president at midterm, so the upward trend, while strong, may not in fact signal much positive influence of the improved Bush ratings for Republican congressional candidates. At best, they may reduce the weight of the anchor those ratings were previously. On the other hand, if approval continues up at its current pace, and if we assume it is higher in the most critical swing districts than it is nationally, then by election day presidential approval could have become a positive asset for Republicans in the most crucial races. (Note the two "ifs" in that last sentence.)

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