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May 15, 2004

43 @ 42%

There isn't any spinning this.

It's a bad number, and a number Bush can't win with. Bush managed to retain his relatively-decent popularity throughout these past two bad liberal-media-feeding-frenzy months, but it seems that this Abu Ghraib nothing was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Will the number change? We think so. There is great economic news out there that is still not known by the public generally; the improving economy is not yet baked into the cake, as stockbrokers say. Bush's economic stock is currently at submarket prices; it'll go up.

And we think that Iraq is about to become much more stable. The Sadrists seem to be on their last legs, for example.

Still. There are only five months of the campaign left. Bush has time to improve, but not much time.

Panic? Us? Hey, we're not panicking. But the facts are the facts. Presidents get re-elected with job approval ratings in the low fifties. They may or may not get re-elected with job approval ratings in the high forties. They have a difficult time getting re-elected with numbers in the mid-forites. And they lose with numbers in the low forties, or worse.

The election, of course, is not being held today. But if it were -- and if normal rules hold in this election -- Bush would lose.

James Taranto recently published a series of emails pointing out that someone could be disatisfied with Bush's performance and yet still vote for him. This is undeniably true; however, it was also undeniably true during Bush I's re-election campaign as well. It may be true that some are disatisfied with Bush and yet will still vote for him, but that is the case with all Presidents seeking re-election.

Presidents with low job-approval numbers lose their bid for re-election. That's the general rule. To prove that this rule doesn't hold in the case of Bush II, one needs to prove more than the fact that some will vote for Bush despite being unsatisfied with his performance. One would need to prove that this supporting-him-while-being-disatisfied effect is more pronounced now than it has been in previous elections; that the number of people who will still vote for Bush II despite their reservations is greater than it normally is in any election season.

That might be the case. This is probably going to be a strange election in a number of ways. But a few anecdotal emails certainly don't prove that's the case.

A lot of Republicans were disatisfied with Bush I in 1992. And he lost.

There are a lot of reasons to think that Bush's job approval will rise. After all, he's still being clobbered as to his economic performance, and that, strangely enough, is a good thing. Were people satisfied with his economic performance, and yet still disatisfied with him as President, he'd have no room to rise as the economy improves. The economy is improving, and dramatically, but the public still doesn't seem to appreciate that fact, or credit Bush for that.

As they do begin to appreciate it, Bush's greatest nagging problem could turn into his greatest strength-- and that would obviously have a great impact on his support from the public.

Let's just hope the media isn't able to keep the explosive jobs-creation numbers a state secret through November.

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posted by Ace at 07:19 PM

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