Monday, September 11, 2006

Bush Approval: Surge continues, ABC at 42%

President Bush's approval continues to surge with the latest ABC News poll (9/5-7/06) finding 42% approval and 55% disapproval. With this latest poll included, my trend estimate has now risen to 39.7%, an increase of over 2% since the summer plateau around 37.2% or so. This upturn began around August 1, with the sharp upturn taking place after August 15. The last time approval was above 39.7% was February 19 when it was 39.8. (Close readers will recall that in June the approval trend momentarily passed 40%, but that lasted only for a single poll and subsequent revision of the summer approval trend shows it never in fact rose above 37.5.)

This is a remarkable run-up in approval over a 3 week period. I have been cautious about the increase, anxious to see more polls check in. Those that have, so far, have only strengthened the conclusion that the President's standing is indeed improving. The aniversary of 9/11 will likely produce a number of new polls, which should give us a very wide range of data to strengthen this estimate.

Over the summer the trend moved up a bit, down a bit, and was flat for a bit. And revision of the series often showed that the short term movements were more due to the influence of a single poll or two rather than a demonstrable and sustained trend. This move certainly looks more sustained over a number of polls and over three weeks.

The 9/11 aniversary, and the President's speech tonight, are opportunities for the White House to further strengthen it's hand as it plays to its long terrorism suit. If Democrats have a stopper, they have yet to play it. (Apologies to the non-bridge players out there. I just can't resist the analogy.)

Compared to May, when the approval trend fell below 34%, President Bush has enjoyed a more than 5 point rise in approval. What looked like looming disaster for November, with a President in the low 30s or even the high 20s, now looks like a midterm with a President who has low, but not disasterously low, approval ratings. The current handicapping by Charlie Cook and others is that the Democratic position has strengthened in a number of House races, with some analysts suggesting a 20+ seat gain is not out of the question for the Democrats. If that happens, it will have much to do with the strength of the local candidates, and rather less to do with a wildly unpopular president.

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