The NBC/WSJ poll is out, and it ain't pretty.
President Bush on Tuesday night gets another shot at persuading Americans to support his Iraq war strategy and domestic agenda. His problem: Much of the public has stopped listening.
A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll on the eve of Mr. Bush's State of the Union address underscores the extent to which he has lost the nation's ear. Just 22% of Americans say they want the president to set policy for the country, while 57% want Congress to do so. Two-thirds say his performance in office is unlikely to get better in his last two years as president.
Who are the 1/3 that think his performance can get better? Those who think it can't get any worse? Here's McClatchey:
Facing a hostile Congress and a skeptical public, President Bush will use his State of the Union speech Tuesday to try to leverage his rapidly diminishing clout behind a series of new proposals.
In his seventh annual address to Congress, Bush will offer to work with lawmakers on a handful of domestic issues while urging them to support his plans for Iraq. He'll call for expanding health-insurance coverage, tout a foreign guest-worker program and offer initiatives intended to slow global warming.
But he's never gone to Capitol Hill under such difficult circumstances, and he's so weak politically that his effort to set the national agenda is unlikely to succeed, for Democrats didn't win power to follow his lead.
He'll speak at 9 p.m. EST to a Congress controlled by his political opponents and to a national television audience that's lost confidence in him. A new ABC News-Washington Post poll released Monday found that Bush was more unpopular on the eve of this State of the Union speech than any president since Richard Nixon in 1974, during the Watergate scandal.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they disapprove of Bush's job performance.
All the polls can be found here graphically and here via chart. The fact is that Bush is clearly in Nixon territory... and clearly recognized by the American public as someone on the decline. The NBC/WSJ says:
Both Journal/NBC pollsters say Mr. Bush may be able to improve his standing by accommodating his reduced stature and the loss of his Republican congressional majorities with a revamped policy agenda. To some degree, the White House has signaled plans to attempt just that.
Seeing is believing, but the opportunity to reach across the aisle may already have come and gone. In any case, adapting to the new reality requires the ability to understand and accept that reality. So far, I think it's fair to consider mr. Bush an underachiever in this area.