Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Bush Approval: Gallup at 37%, Trend at 34.9%

A new Gallup/USA Today poll taken 1/5-7/07 finds approval of President Bush at 37% with disapproval at 59%. With this addition, my trend estimate stands at 34.9%. The only other January poll so far is the CBS News reading of 30% approval.

As I warned in a post on the CBS poll here, the gap in polling since the third week of December means that the current trend estimate is especially sensitive to the first few polls of the new year, so the trend estimate is likely to move around a bit until we have several 2007 readings. This means the current trend is more uncertain than usual.

With the President's Iraq speech expected Wednesday night, we will have a little trouble distinguishing the effects of the speech from other sources of change. It would be nice to have another couple of pre-speech polls to stabilize the estimate before assessing the impact the speech may have.

The Gallup poll also has bad news for the administration on Iraq. Only 26% approve of the President's handling of Iraq while 72% disapprove. And among partisans, Republican support on Iraq is at 61% compared to 79% approval for Bush's overall job performance. Iraq approval among Republicans is also down from 73% in August. Democratic approval is an amazingly low 3%, while it is at 21% among Independents.

That sets an interesting background for Wednesday's speech. How the public responds is likely to be strongly structured by partisanship, with Democratic leaders already signaling skepticism over a "surge" in troops. Since Democratic identifiers can hardly drop lower in support, the key will be whether the speech boosts support among Republicans back to last summer's levels, and especially how independents react. The latter will give us a sense of how well the President's and the Democrats' messages are working.