BUSH FALLING IN POLLS….There are a few bits of interesting polling data that have come out recently. First off is the July poll from PIPA (Program on International Policy Attitudes), which shows some dramatic changes in attitudes toward the war over the past three months:
Support for the UN taking a lead role in Iraq is up from 50% to 58%.
The number of people under the misimpression that we have found WMD in Iraq has declined from 34% to 21%
The number of people who flatly say the war was a bad idea has increased from 22% to 32%.
40% say the recent controversy over uranium has lowered their confidence in the president, and 50% say they will be more wary in the future if he says a country has a secret WMD program.
Overall, Bush is still getting modestly positive ratings for his handling of Iraq, but those ratings are clearly declining and the recent controversies seem to be part of the reason.
In another report based on the same data, PIPA reports that “swing voters” are much more negative than the overall populace:
46% say President Bush is handling Iraq poorly (vs. 33% of all voters)
72% think the rebuilding is going badly (vs. 57% of all voters)
51% say the war was unnecessary (vs. 44% of all voters)
53% think Bush was being misleading during the runup to war (vs. 36% of all voters)
This is important stuff since it’s those centrist voters that are going to make the difference in the 2004 election. Needless to say, these attitudes will change once Bush starts campaigning, but overall it’s still positive news for Democrats.
Democrats are now favored by 17 points over Republicans on the economy. That?s up from a 1-point Democratic disadvantage in January. The Democrats also have increased their margin on the federal budget deficit from 4 to 13 points over that same time period. Their margins on unemployment (+19), education (+12) and, significantly, prescription drugs for older Americans (+22) remain impressive, despite Republican attempts to co-opt the latter issue.
Furthermore, while Democrats remain behind on foreign affairs, they have shaved that deficit from 17 to 5 points. Similarly, while still behind by 15 points on the situation with Iraq, that deficit has declined from 24 points in January.
….These findings are underscored by results from the latest Democracy Corps survey. According to the Democracy Corps data, Bush?s approval rating is now 55 percent, down 6 points from their poll last month. His margin over an unnamed Democrat for reelection in 2004 is 6 points, down from 11 points last month. And the classic right direction/wrong track question has flipped from slightly positive to 6 points negative (43 percent right direction/49 percent wrong track).
It’s important that the polling deficit on foreign affairs and Iraq continue to drop. However, to really make any headway is going to require the Democratic candidates to offer up some good, positive proposals on national security and foreign affairs, and so far I haven’t seen it.
A note to my more liberal readers: The DLC may be taking the wrong tack in its criticisms of Howard Dean, but we shouldn’t let that blind us to the essential correctness of their views on national security. Dean and the others really need to get their act together on this if they want to have any chance of beating George Bush in 2004.
POSTSCRIPT: As usual, take all these poll results with a grain of salt, especially the PIPA survey, which is done over the internet. (Their methodology is sound, but it’s still an internet poll.) These polls represent good news for Democrats, but there are a few bits of bad news in there as well and the results are far from conclusive. In any case it’s a long time until election day.