2005 June 30 Thursday
George W. Bush Popularity Decline Continues

A new Zogby poll shows President Bush's popularity continues to decline.

President Bush’s televised address to the nation produced no noticeable bounce in his approval numbers, with his job approval rating slipping a point from a week ago, to 43%, in the latest Zogby International poll. And, in a sign of continuing polarization, more than two-in-five voters (42%) say they would favor impeachment proceedings if it is found the President misled the nation about his reasons for going to war with Iraq.

The Zogby America survey of 905 likely voters, conducted from June 27 through 29, 2005, has a margin of error of +/-3.3 percentage points.

Just one week ago, President Bush’s job approval stood at a previous low of 44%—but it has now slipped another point to 43%, despite a speech to the nation intended to build support for the Administration and the ongoing Iraq War effort. The Zogby America survey includes calls made both before and after the President’s address, and the results show no discernible “bump” in his job approval, with voter approval of his job performance at 45% in the final day of polling.

If Bush pulled out of Iraq now he might be able to bounce back enough to prevent a big Republican Congressional loss in the November 2006 elections. Otherwise will the Democrats get control of the House in the next election?

Some people want to impeach Bush. But Dick "last throes" Cheney would replace him. Still, the impeachment might serve a useful purpose.

In a sign of the continuing partisan division of the nation, more than two-in-five (42%) voters say that, if it is found that President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should hold him accountable through impeachment. While half (50%) of respondents do not hold this view, supporters of impeachment outweigh opponents in some parts of the country.

Among those living in the Western states, a 52% majority favors Congress using the impeachment mechanism while just 41% are opposed; in Eastern states, 49% are in favor and 45% opposed. In the South, meanwhile, impeachment is opposed by three-in-five voters (60%) and supported by just one-in-three (34%); in the Central/Great Lakes region, 52% are opposed and 38% in favor.

Impeachment is overwhelmingly rejected in the Red States—just 36% say they agree Congress should use it if the President is found to have lied on Iraq, while 55% reject this view; in the “Blue States” that voted for Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry in 2004, meanwhile, a plurality of 48% favors such proceedings while 45% are opposed.

Bush's recent speech at Fort Bragg defending the continuation of the war in Iraq was watched by a small and mostly Republican audience.

The audience was apparently rather small and composed largely of Bush supporters -- 50% of those who tuned in were Republicans, a much higher proportion than exists in the general population but similar to what Gallup has found in polling following other Bush speeches.

Overall, the sample of 323 speech watchers rated Bush's speech in positive terms -- with 46% describing their reaction as "very positive" and an additional 28% "somewhat positive." That is well below average when compared with other major speeches Bush has given, which have averaged a 60% very positive rating in similar flash polls. That includes a 67% very positive rating for the famous "Mission Accomplished" speech he gave aboard an aircraft carrier in May 2003, in which he declared the major fighting phase of the Iraq war to be over.

He's going to have to try a lot harder to reach more people to have any chance of turning public opinion around on the Iraq war. But I don't think he can succeed in that. Unless the Shias decide to start fighting against the Sunnis (basically join a civil war) I don't see how conditions in Iraq can improve. I do not expect the Shias to put their lives on the line in significant numbers as long as American troops will do it for them. So things are going to stay bad or get worse in Iraq.

Thanks to Greg Cochran for the link.

According to a different poll done over the weekend Bush's job performance disapproval has hit new highs.

The number of Americans disapproving of President Bush's job performance has risen to the highest level of his presidency, according to the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.

According to the poll, 53 percent of respondents said they disapproved of Bush's performance, compared to 45 percent who approved.

Again, I expect the Bush ratings decline to continue as long as the Iraq war goes on. Most people now think the invasion was a mistake. The death and injury rate for American troops shows no signs of declining. The Shias obviously do not want to take up arms to defend democracy. The WMD argument was a deception.

Bush's Social Security proposal is dead as a door nail.

WASHINGTON — Americans disapprove of the way President Bush is handling Social Security by a ratio of more than 2-to-1, a new low for the White House on its top domestic policy issue, according to the latest USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll.

The poll, taken over the weekend, showed a steady erosion in the president's handling of Social Security since early February, when 43% approved. Now, 31% approve and 64% disapprove, the first time disapproval has risen above 60%.

If we are lucky Congress will get it together to pass a law to raise the retirement age for Social Security. But I fear Bush's privatization proposal has poisoned the atmosphere against any Social Security reform.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 June 30 05:36 PM  Politics American Domestic

John S Bolton said at June 30, 2005 7:22 PM:

Bush is a liability to his party by now; congressmen will have to make haste to dissociate themselves from such signature administration priorities as immigration, offense over defense, free trade treaties which evade constitutional requirements, and which allow stolen goods to be trafficked here, gratuitous social security boat rocking, egalitarian educational nonsense, and more.

N said at June 30, 2005 7:57 PM:

"Some people want to impeach Bush. But Dick "last throes" Cheney would replace him."

They should both be impeached at the same time. Cheney is equally as guilty as Bush, if not more so. But then Hastert would take over. Who would be a worse president - Cheney or Hastert?

Bartelson said at July 1, 2005 12:13 AM:

The President appears to have burned up every bit of his vaunted "political capital" in less than 6 months.
The "Fire in Men's Minds" can burn both ways and it is the Holy Warriors who have all the fire right now.

John Thacker said at July 1, 2005 6:34 AM:

Interestingly, polls show that the Democratic Party's approval rating is even lower. Traditionally, though, elections are seen as referendums on the party in power.

I think that the idea is laughable that Bush's privatization proposal has "poisoned the well" against raising the retirement age. There was no chance of the Democratic Party supporting that or any other plan, like the plan Bush endorsed to cut the rate of growth of the well-off who receive Social Security down to inflation only.

John Thacker said at July 1, 2005 6:51 AM:

Of course, I'm a strong supporter of the Social Security reform proposals, and if I were to honestly answer a poll, of course I would say that I disapprove of "his handling" of Social Security, as it says. That's because I want him to twist arms and get it passed. Doesn't mean that I disapprove of the proposals. Ah, the fun of polls.

Cite for Democrats' rating being even lower than Republicans', at 38%.

Braddock said at July 1, 2005 8:26 AM:

Nobody admires a quitter. You might hate a stubborn SOB who refuses to give up, like George Washington or Winston Churchill. But quitters are universally despised.

JT is right. Everybody hates Bush. But everybody hates the democrats even more. Bush pulling out of Iraq would drop his popularity to 20%. Bugging out like former President Clinton did will not win any friends, instead it would gain him many more enemies.

Randall Parker said at July 1, 2005 9:34 AM:


You are right in this sense: If Bush pulled out of Iraq it would not cause many Democrats to support him. Plus, some Republicans who currently share Bush's delusions would then disapprove of his giving up. So Bush is between a rock and a hard place. Since he wants to minimize his own political losses first and foremost he's going to have a hard time withdrawing from Iraq.

If Bush at some point figures out that staying in Iraq will not help any he's going to have to find some pretext in which to leave where he doesn't look like he is retreating. Richard M. Nixon showed the way. Cook up some agreement with some insurgent groups and declare victory. Then Bush can maintain most of his support and, hey, that is what is what he wants to do first and foremost. America's national interests are of secondary consideration here unfortunately.

The problem with attempts to negotiate with insurgents is that they are very fragmented. It would be hard to make a deal with, say, 80% of them.

So Americans will keep getting killed and maimed in a pointless war.

Kurt said at July 1, 2005 9:52 AM:

The basic problem is that despite all of the hand-waving from the government and Wall Street economists, there has been no recovery at all in the industrial part of the economy. Like the late 90's, much of the economic "recovery" since 2003 has been based on another speculative bubble. That is, real estate. The "real" part of the economy has experienced no recovery at all since 2000. As a result, there is not only no creation of real jobs in growth-oriented industry, there is not even any contract work or increase in capital investment. The drivers that pulled us out of the early 90's recession are completely lacking this time around. This has many people concerned and upset.

Against this background, Bush has plunged us into another war that appears to be unwinable, despite all of the pronoucements that there is "light at the end of the tunnel". The question is just how long is this tunnel going to be. People were willing to cut Bush alot of slack because of the excesses of Clinton and the fact that Clinton had very little to do with what real economic growth there was in the 90's (but ALOT to do with the unsustainable "Arthur Anderson" bubble of the late 90's, but thats another story).

Bush was given a window of opportunity by the public to set things right following Clinton. He has squandered this opportunity on the delusions of the neo-cons and their "war to end all wars", which is becoming increasing intractable.

GUYK said at July 1, 2005 4:39 PM:

Kurt, lets see now. An economy that grew over three percent last quarter. A stock market that is relatively stable though not as high as before the dot.com bubble burst. Interest rates just went up again to stabalize the economy and stop it from growing to fats as well as because of the fears of inflation. Looks like the Bush tax cuts did work out somewhat, huh?

General Motors and Ford have found themselves with credit rating problems-bonds now junk status. Couldn't have happened to a better bunch of losers. Both have caved in to the UAW for decades and it is finally coming home to them. Maybe they will pull it out and then maybe again if they are smart they will bust the union and try to make a profit again. Of course designing and marketing a better product might help along with some quality control at the assemble line. ( Bust the union and quality control will increase)

If I had been polled I would have expressed my disatisfaction with Bush. But not for the reasons most of the comments above stated. I am unhappy with the war in Iraq all right but I don't believe in half steps-either go in and win the damn country or get the hell out! I do agree with Bush's logic about staying the course until it is won but damn it, win it.

The naysayers have called everything wrong in Iraq thus far from not being able to get volunteers for the Iraqi police to the Iraqis being able to hold an election. I believe that with some support from the public ( forget about the liberal left media )and public demand that a more aggressive war be taken to the terrorists in Iraq that the war not only can be won that it can be won sooner than later.

However, the aggressive approach also means a hard line with the Saudis and Iranians and probably just taking out Syria. Will the public support this? never happen. But when a container with a nuke takes out LA or NYC or Miami then the public will scream and ask why didn't Bush do more?

I have read blogs for the last month, most of which seem to be anti-Bush although many claim to be conservative or libertarian. Most, as this one, seems to be more of the same sell out by the democrats-or as was said in Korea, a 'bug out', which
means retreat. Thus far I have read the complaints but yet to read any suggestions except give up. It appears that the majority of you that comment on this blog are well educated individuals, obviously better educated than an old man such as I. Do all of you really hate Bush to the point that you would rather see the country suffer a defeat than rally to him. Had you rather fight the Islamic terrorists on the domestic front than on their front?

This is not a new fight. The terrorists have been bombing Americans and Europeans for over forty years. Have you forgotten over 200 dead Marines in Lebanon? A passenger killed on a cruise ship in the Med? The olympic games in Germany? The first attack on the World Trade Center? Its time to take a stand somewhere or will you wait until it hits home again-then wait some more because you don't like the president.

Bob Badour said at July 1, 2005 4:55 PM:


You are asking people to rally to a pointless and fruitless waste of human life. While I do not speak for Randall and I would never pretend to, I interpret his position as "There is nothing here to win, and until enough people come to realise that, we will keep wasting American lives without any hope of real meaningful victory. Meanwhile, we have tied up too many of our resources, thereby rendering America impotent in the eyes of those who really threaten us."

Bush already lost the war. Had he sent in enough troops to seize full control of Iraq and maintain order, America could have dictated an Iraqi constitution and introduced democratic reforms at a measured pace to a wholly defeated people. He did not do that. The war was lost the day the looting started, and the rest is just denial of the obvious. War by half measures is evil; Bush conducted war by half measures.

As for the economy, I am starting to see the first glimmers of life in the contract programming market in about three years.

Joe said at July 1, 2005 6:26 PM:

Bush has made a bet and lost. Iraq is a mess and the truth will eventually sink his administration. Once the soldiers lose faith and confidence in the war, which is happening now. (www.optruth.org) Vietnam was a hopeless cause once the soldiers lost faith we lost the war.

GUYK said at July 1, 2005 7:02 PM:

Better check your history Joe. The military did not lose in Vietnam nor did the GI's lose faith in themselves. We did lose faith in our government and faith in the country that sent us there but would not support us. Vietnam was a situation where the American military won every major battle and the public and politicians lost the war. It appears that is what many of you are after now.

Bob Badour said at July 1, 2005 7:26 PM:


As for winning every battle, are you familiar with the story _The Tar Baby_ ? Winning every battle means nothing when faced with an infinite supply of battles. Just as it doesn't matter how hard you punch the Tar Baby, it doesn't matter how resoundingly you win every battle when the opponent slips out of sight to regroup for the next battle.

Bush lost the war. It is already done. He could have won it by sending more troops and establishing a new order immediately upon defeating the Iraqi army. He choked. He did not send sufficient troops. Without sufficient numbers, the troops could not establish order. Without an established order, anarchy ensued.

Fighting anarchy is much more difficult than fighting a nation. In the hobbesian world of anarchy, the strongest, most violent person in the immediate vicinity rules. As soon as he leaves the immediate vicinity, someone else rules. If you kill the strongest, meanest person at a location and move on, the second strongest and meanest becomes the de facto ruler. Fighting anarchy requires defeat of every individual, whereas fighting a nation requires defeating only the leadership, which leaves an awed vacuum into which one can step.

Bush didn't step. He choked. He blew it. All past tense. The awe has gone. The vacuum no longer exists. The opportunity was lost. What future objective do you see the troops over there achieving to define victory?

Stephen said at July 1, 2005 9:13 PM:

I just read that when the Iraqi army was dispanded, a decision was made to let the demobbed soldiers keep their weapons - like is that right??? I really can't believe it. (I know this doesn't relate to the conversation, but I just had to ask right away!). now to get back to the discussion....

Bob, I like the vacuum analogy, and i think that there was a window where the Iraqi people were willing to give the occupiers the benefit of the doubt. Sadly, I agree that that window has long since passed.

But who will fill the vacuum created when we leave?

Bob Badour said at July 1, 2005 10:34 PM:

The same people who fill the power in the places the US doesn't control or rule now. Or people just like them in any case.

Randall Parker said at July 2, 2005 9:10 AM:

Regards soldiers getting maimed, I saw this article claiming pretty high rates of maiming among the wounded:

According to Pentagon statistics, approximately 6 percent of the more than 12,000 troops wounded by bombs or bullets in Iraq or Afghanistan have required amputation--three times the rate in Vietnam. About 20 percent have head or neck injuries, and many more have suffered breathing and eating impairments, blindness or severe disfiguration. Dr. Roy Aaron of Brown Medical School in Rhode Island told the Boston Globe in December that the Veterans Affairs system “literally cannot handle the load” of amputees.

I'd like to find more on the various rates of permanent injury.

Ned said at July 2, 2005 4:03 PM:

Very interesting article from the Washington Post about how sophisticated pollsters have helped shape Bush's position about the Iraq war


Basically, these guys state that the public's attitude about this (or any other) war is determined by their belief in the rightness of the cause and their assessment of the possibility of winning. Casualties will be tolerated if these two items are in positive territory. Steely resolve on the part of the leadership is essential.
I think this makes a lot of sense. In World War II, the major belligerents all sustained very high casualties but kept on fighting. Civilian morale remained high, because all believed that their countries were right and would eventually win. Even in 1945, the German and Japanese leaders were still claiming that they would ultimately win, or at least avoid defeat.

Stuka said at July 3, 2005 8:40 AM:

"But when a container with a nuke takes out LA or NYC or Miami then the public will scream and ask why didn't Bush do more."

Yes, the public will ask why didn't Bush do more, do ANYTHING, about securing our borders, detaining & deporting imigrants, and defending our homeland--instead of wasting American blood & treasure on the Neocons' wars in the Mid-East.

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