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September 20, 2006


Chuck Todd has a column that makes a similar point. He says that Democrats and Dem-leaning Indies are fairly stable in their opinion (loathing) of Bush, and that the fluctuations seen in the approval polls are almost entirely among moderate Republicans and R-leaning Indies.

Since Hurricane Katrina struck just over a year ago, Bush's job-approval rating has fluctuated between the mid-30s and mid-40s. The most volatile blocs of respondents have been moderate Republicans and GOP-leaning independents. Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have not changed their opinion of Bush -- their loathing has been stable.

When Bush gets a positive job rating from approximately 90 percent of self-described Republicans, his overall rating rests comfortably in the 40s. But when approval from the GOP's loyalists dips into the 80s, his overall numbers start lurching into the 30s.

These are the people who go up when Bush scares them--I mean highlights terrorist threats--and down when the focus in on the mess in Iraq. Therefore, he concludes the Dems should emphasize the mess in Iraq and not go off on domestic issues.

I think Todd is right--the Dems should hit Iraq and the fact that we are not safer even after the expenditure of over 2,600 American lives and $300 billion in treasure, plus our international prestige. But there is one stealth domestic weapon the Dems could employ to great effect in rural areas in particular--Social Security. Bush has said that it will be back on the table in 2007, and the Dems should capitalize on this issue among those who depend on SS the most. Here's a good ad that does just that. We should see a few more like this next month.

I'm so glad he said that. I've been saying the same thing re wayward R's.

Stu Rothenberg: anti-Bush, not anti incumbent.

While it is true that voters are not particularly impressed with Congress in general or either of the two major parties, the midterm elections have developed into a referendum on the president. Republicans may well succeed in minimizing the damage in November by localizing elections and re-electing incumbents, but there is no indication that voters will send a message of dissatisfaction with all incumbents in the fall.

That means that all but a handful of Democratic House incumbents can rest easy.

Yeah, your wavering-Republicans thesis always did sound like the best explanation. So yeah, I think Todd and Mimikatz are right -- with one modification. It can't just be Iraq: this is precisely the audience for whom the perceived absence of Dem strength on terrorism can be a dealbreaker for us. We risk making the same mistake as in '04, when Dem conventional wisdom was "don't fight on his turf, fight on ours." Security is the sina qua non -- if you can't pass that hurdle, the rest won't matter. For these voters, terrorism is that hurdle. So to me that argues even more forcefully for what I've been yammering about here for the past two days [end of ever-popular broken-record imitation...].

sinE qua non...grrr...

rj, i agree that nat security can't be ignored. The tactics of going quiet these last few days are different than the strategy of ignoring it altogether, which has not happened. This is not 2002 or 2004.

The strategic question is whether the Dems should assist the Rs in changing the subject from iraq and afghanistan. I think not. the focus shoulkd be on those two things and their detremental effects on nat security, rather than opening up new fronts.

I certainly agree that that should be the focus. But the "spying on terrorists: pro or con" crap, eg, isn't a new front, and it really does have legs with people. That dishonest Nancy Johnson ad (which I'd guess is being replicated around the country) could be slapped down so easily, which would actually have the effect of taking that issue off the table altogether and allowing the focus to be where it should (wrt the elections and the NSA "program"). I'm just hoping it's being done below the national level and I just haven't seen it. (Removing bone from teeth now...)

On the other hand, thanks for the link to the WaPo story on the other thread; the prospect of unbreakable Republican gridlock (knock wood) would be terrific substantively and politically, so reading it made me breathe a little easier. For now. 8P

I'm curious if people think that Republicans rank the war on terror as the number one issue and rank the Iraq war much less, while the Dems rate them in the reverse, because many more Republicans see Iraq as part of the war on terror. The Dems see them as not related.

Can we bring the issue of Iraq as a separate war, "Bush's War", distinct from the war on terror.

Jerry McEvoy

Jerry, dems want and intend to separate them. Polls in the recent past say most voters separate them, though there's evidence bush succedded in blurring them for a week.

As to why Rs poll the way they do, you need focus groups for that.

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