Monday, January 22, 2007

Bush Approval: 9 New Polls, Trend at 34.0%

A flood of new polls have come out since late last week. Eight national samples have been reported with field dates since January 16. The results: 35% (Fox), 36% (AP), 31% (Newsweek), 33% (ABC/WP), 35% (NBC/WSJ), 28% (CBS/NYT), 34% (CNN) and 34% (ARG). In addition, a Pew Research Center poll conducted 1/10-15/07 found approval at 33%.

Those polls together produce a trend estimate of 34.0%, two one-hundredths of a point above the low point of the trend estimator for the Bush presidency. The CBS poll is far enough away from the trend to qualify as an outlier, but the trend estimate is not particularly sensitive to that low value, thanks to the abundance of polling. The simple mean of the last eight polls is 33.25% with the CBS value included, and 34.0% without it. The median is 34% either with or without CBS. That CBS reading is a point lower than the previous all time low for any polls of the Bush administration.

The CBS poll will get the most attention but the trend at 34.0% is both more defensible as the estimate of current approval and carries with it a sufficiently damaging assessment of the President. A lame duck this close to his all time low approval rating estimate is unable to do much to alter his circumstances. Faced with a hostile Congress with a growing resistance (not yet rebellion) among his own party's Senators, the State of the Union address is unlikely to create new opportunities for the President. The very consistent polling showing support for the troop increase in Iraq in the 30%-35% range means that the one striking new proposal for Iraq the President has made has failed to win support with the public. For better or worse, presidential approval may have moved out of the realm of rhetoric and into the hands of events. I doubt any presidential speech can affect public approval. The fate of the President's support now rests in the hands of Iraqis and members of Congress.

(Note: I posted a previous version of this that omitted the Pew poll. Thanks to Ken Lee for pointing out the oversight. Without Pew the trend estimate was 34.1%.)