Posting part of a conversation with a flack, Rich Lowry showcases some of the smarts that are keeping the White House on a roll.

The president has usually been at around 47-53% He’s at 39-40% now. Two big things brought him down, Katrina and the government response to it and the Harriet Miers nomination.

Uh-huh. Well. Hurricane Katrina touched down in Louisiana on August 29, and obviously Miers came a month+ after that. I would be prudent to check the last polls before August 29. All polls from August or July.

Gallup – 40% approve, 56% disapprove.
ABC News/Washington Post – 45% approve, 53% disapprove
NBC News/Wall Street Journal – 46% approve, 49% disapprove
CBS News – 45% approve, 46% disapprove
Associated Press-Ipsos – 42% approve, 55% disapprove
Fox News – 47% approve, 44% disapprove
Pew – 44% approve, 48% disapprove
Newsweek – 42% approve, 51% disapprove
Zogby – 45% approve, 55% disapprove
Harris – 48% approve, 51% disapprove
Quinnipiac – 41% approve, 53% disapprove

What do we have here? For starters, Bush was not at 47-53% before Katrina, and hadn’t been for months. Averaging these most trusted, regular pollsters, Bush was clocking in around 45% approval, 51% disapproval before Katrina.

This may sound like splitting hairs, but it’s important whether or not the White House gets this. Their problems started months and months ago. What was the cause? Probably some combination of backlash over the Social Security campaign, the war, and the cost of living (mainly gas).

Possibly this flack is pounding his chest for NRO because, well, NRO readers will see it and like it. But if the White House’s brilliant new strategy is “wait for the Katrina and Miers backlashes to fade, then we’re back to plus territory,” they’re doomed.

3 thoughts on “Hackattack

  1. Dave,

    I really really really don’t want to be in the position of defending Rich Lowry. But go back Bush’s polling for the past five years or so. He ALWAYS does lousy during the summer.

    Whether this is the result of some natural boredom cycle or planned by Mr. Rove I leave to the experts (and I count you among them).

    The difference was that, this time, when he came out of his normal summer slump, everything went to hell in a way that played to Bush’s weaknesses.

    I am not saying that the administration does not have major problems. It does, and it needs to deal with them, and, if recent reports are accurate, Bush knows that.

    But what are you going to say if Bush inches back up in the polls? Hey, problem solved!?


  2. I agree with you about the previous Bush summers, but that wasn’t true this year. I’ve posted the link to all the polls – you can see that Bush’s slide started after the State of the Union, in February. He had a pretty good plus rating coming out of the election, it spiked after the Iraqi election, and then … mid-40s with an occasional 50. This was when Rove was running full steam. I surmise that early fall was due to the blowback from the Social Security campaign, from voters disagreeing with it conceptually and disagreeing with it as the agenda item (ie, “Why is he talking about this instead of …”).

    The White House flacks should consider whether they have a popular agenda to go back to once they get the SCOTUS stuff under control.

  3. It’s hard to think of what will happen to boost his poll numbers. A successful Supreme Court nomination will help a little, but Chief Roberts didn’t boost him much. Coming next: high winter heating prices, Scooter trial, Rove deathwatch (“I’m not dead yet!”), continuing war stalemate, housing bubble instability. Unless the economy has a banner year, or we get attacked again, or Michael Moore makes another film, I dunno where Bush’s boost would come from.

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