Pew chief Andrew Kohut said the "’negative impact of Iraq is hurting not only Bush but also the Republican Party as well.’ No longer, Kohut said, is ‘terrorism alone enough to keep’” traditional Republicans in the party’s fold.
Bush Approval Dropping
Six polls taken within the last week have the president’s approval rating from 33% to 38%. Even after the London terrorist raid, CBS had Bush at 36%, Stale Gallup at 37%, and Zogby at 34%.
Dr. Charles Franklin, political science professor at the University of Wisconsin, said in an interview, “We know from the past that presidential approval does predict mid-term election outcomes,” although he’s not ready to predict a Democratic takeover of the House or Senate.
Part of the challenge for Bush is that Americans are less confident that we’re winning the war on terror. According to the Rasmussen Reports, only 39% of Americans are optimistic, a five-point drop in one month. In 2004, half the electorate thought we were winning. Conversely, those who think the terrorists are winning has jumped seven points in one month from 26 to 33%.
“Collectively, these numbers document one of the most pessimistic evaluations of the conflict we’ve found in the past two-and-a-half years,” Rassmussen writes
To make matters worse for the president, he is being assailed from all sides. Conservatives think he’s not conservative enough, and Pew has found that even moderate and liberal Republicans don’t approve of the job he’s doing.
Franklin, on his blog, Political Arithmetik, has noted that when a presidents rating falls into the 30% range, it’s usually “disastrous” for his party at the polls.
Republicans Doing the Old Two-Step with the President
Many Republicans are torn between the president’s ability to raise money for them and fear of being tainted by Bush’s low appeal. Jim Gerlach (R. PA) has said that the people in his suburban Philadelphia district are in a “sour mood.” The two-term Congressman is anxious to show his independence from the president to the point that his statement, "'When I think he's wrong, I let him know'" has become “a virtual campaign slogan, repeated in interviews and TV ads.”
According to the Post, Bush’s sinking approval is creating problems for Republicans across the country, but it’s most serious in the Northeast, where a Post-ABC News poll found Bush’s approval rating at 28% in that region with the Republican Congress in about the same straights. What’s giving Republicans concern is that the region is becoming more Democratic, which could make it hard for the GOP to recover seats lost in November. New York Republican State Senator Raymond Meier, running for an open seat, Reps. Rob Simmons (R-CT), Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Curt Weldon (R-PA), Nancy Johnson (R-CT), and Christopher Shays (R-CT) are all in the fights of their political lives.