The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

NEWSWEEK Poll: Bush Hits New Low

NEWSWEEK Poll: Bush Hits New Low
After the Democratic sweep of Congress, President Bush's approval reaches a new low. But voters want Democrats to chart a moderate course.
By Marcus Mabry
Updated: 10:04 a.m. CT Nov 11, 2006

Nov. 11, 2006 - President George W. Bush’s response was swift and decisive—if a little late. After voters gave Republicans “a thumpin’” at the polls, handing Democrats control of both houses of Congress, Bush banished his contentious defense secretary; invited the presumptive leaders of the new House and Senate to lunch (would-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had pasta; the president ate crow, a Bush aide joked); and suffered through two pained photo-ops with Pelosi and Harry Reid, the Nevada Senator expected to become Majority Leader. And what did the president get for listening to the voice of the American people? The worst approval rating of his presidency.

President Bush’s job approval rating has fallen to just 31 percent, according to the new NEWSWEEK Poll. Bill Clinton’s lowest rating during his presidency was 36 percent; Bush’s father’s was 29 percent, and Ronald Reagan’s was 35 percent. Jimmy Carter’s and Richard Nixon’s lows were 28 and 23 percent, respectively. (Just 24 approve of outgoing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s job performance; and 31 percent approve of Vice President Dick Cheney’s.)

Worst of all, most Americans are writing off the rest of Bush’s presidency; two-thirds (66 percent) believe he will be unable to get much done, up from 56 percent in a mid-October poll; only 32 percent believe he can be effective. That’s unfortunate since 63 percent of Americans say they’re dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country; just 29 percent are satisfied, reports the poll of 1,006 adults conducted Thursday and Friday nights.

But the new poll carries sobering news for Democrats, too, still on their post-victory high. Just about everyone believes the Republicans lost the 2006 midterms more than the Democrats won it. Presented with a list of factors that may have contributed to the Democrats’ success, 85 percent of Americans said the “major reason” was disapproval of the administration’s handling of the war in Iraq, 71 percent said disapproval of Bush’s overall job performance, 67 percent cited dissatisfaction with how Republicans have handled government spending and the deficit, 63 percent said disapproval of the overall performance of Republicans in Congress, 61 percent said Democrats’ ideas and proposals for changing course in Iraq. Tellingly, just 27 percent said a major reason the Democrats won was because they had better candidates.

That means the new Congressional majority may be kept on a short leash. A majority of Americans, 51 percent, believe it’s a good thing that the Democrats regained control of Congress, including 18 percent of Republicans, while only 17 percent think it is a bad thing. (When the Republicans won the 2002 midterms, 30 percent thought it was a good thing that the GOP kept control, while 34 percent thought it was a bad thing.)

But the public is worried the Democrats will move too fast on Iraq and too slow on national security. For instance, 51 percent of Americans are very concerned that Congress will push too hastily for the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq. (Only 20 percent say they are not too concerned or not at all concerned.) And 43 percent are very concerned that the new Congress may keep the administration from doing what is necessary to combat terrorism. Only 29 percent are not too concerned or not at all concerned.

The good news for Democrats is that voters believe they know their mandate is limited. Half of all Americans, 50 percent, say Democrats will take a moderate approach, compared to 34 percent who believe they will try to take the country in a more liberal direction. Not surprisingly, Republicans are most skeptical: 52 percent believe the Democrats will try to push America to the left while 37 percent believe they will be more moderate.

And there’s massive support for much of the Democratic Congress’s presumed agenda. For instance, 75 percent of Americans say allowing the government to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug prices for seniors should be a “top priority,” including 67 percent of Republicans. Increasing the minimum wage comes next (68 percent) on the public’s list, followed by investigating government contracts in Iraq (60 percent).

There’s less support for rolling back Bush’s tax cuts: 40 percent say that should be a top priority and 24 percent say it shouldn’t be done at all. And since the election, Americans have become slightly less interested in investigating impropriety and wrongdoing by members of Congress. The number of Americans who think this should be a top priority has dropped from 62 to 55 percent.

Overall, however, the public wants Congress and the president to put Iraq and national security before domestic issues like the economy and health care, by a margin of 51 to 33 percent. Fifteen percent say they should be equal priorities. But the public is not overly optimistic: 54 percent of Americans say partisan bickering will likely prevent important work from getting done, while 40 percent say the two sides will be able to work together.

With just two years before the next presidential election, the Republicans have some rebuilding to do. Today 48 percent of registered voters would generally like to see a Democrat elected in ’08 (including 10 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of independents); compared to 28 percent who want a Republican (including just 3 percent of Democrats and 20 percent of independents). Twenty percent say they don’t know.

When it comes to specific potential candidates, the ladies have it. New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton registers the highest level of strong support, with 33 percent of registered voters saying there’s a good chance they would vote for her and 20 percent saying there’s some chance. But she also has high negatives: 45 percent of registered voters say there’s no chance they would vote for her. Similarly, 24 percent of registered voters say there’s a good chance they would vote for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and 27 percent says there’s some chance; but 43 percent say there’s no chance.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain have lower negatives: 24 percent of registered voters say there’s a good chance they would vote for Giuliani, 30 percent say there’s some chance, and 32 percent say there’s no chance. Twenty percent say there’s a good chance they would vote for McCain, 34 percent say there’s some chance, and 32 percent say there’s no chance.

Twenty percent of voters also say there’s a good chance they would vote for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, while 19 percent say there’s some chance and 24 percent say there’s no chance. More than a third of voters, 34 percent, say they’ve never heard of him.

Also-rans include former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry (16 percent good chance, 24 percent some chance, and 55 percent no chance) and Newt Gingrich (10 percent good chance, 17 percent some chance, and 58 percent no chance).

And therein lies some good news for President Bush as he faces the final two years of his Presidency. At least he’s not John Kerry.

The NEWSWEEK poll, conducted Nov. 9-10, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. In conducting the poll, Princeton Survey Research Associates International interviewed 1,006 adults aged 18 and older.



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