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September 19, 2006

USAToday/Gallup Poll: GOP's "Best Two Weeks" Since 2004

Polls, polls, polls.

Bush at 44%, his best showing in a year.

Amid falling gas prices and a two-week drive to highlight his administration's efforts to fight terrorism, President Bush's approval rating has risen to 44% in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. That's his highest rating in a year.

The poll also showed likely voters evenly divided between Democratic and Republican candidates for Congress, 48%-48%. Among registered voters, Democrats had a 51%-42% advantage.

...

Bush's approval rating has edged up largely on the strength of Republicans coming back to the fold — 86% with him now compared with 70% in May.

...

The new poll found likely voters more prone to vote for candidates who support Bush on terrorism, 45%-28%, and evenly divided on those who support and oppose Bush on Iraq. More than a quarter said Iraq is their top concern this fall. For the first time since December 2005, a majority of people did not say the war there was a mistake; the split was 49%-49%.

Bush's terror-fighting techniques drew mixed reviews. A 55%-42% majority supported his policy of wiretapping phone conversations between U.S. citizens here and suspected terrorists in other countries without getting a court order.

But by 48%-41%, people said it would be worse to convict defendants on evidence they are never shown, as Bush wants, than to let some suspected terrorists go free. And 57% said the United States should abide by the Geneva Conventions that bar humiliating and degrading treatment of prisoners; Bush wants to write U.S. standards that critics such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., say would weaken protections.

That last bit surprises me. 57% support McCain on this?

A Democrat offered negative spin.

Democratic pollster Geoffrey Garin said Bush's approval goes up and down with each poll, and the even division of likely voters has been constant for a month. "There's no momentum here," he said. "The story is Republicans at a standstill."

Well, even if the division of likely voters has been even "for a month," that still means that this is a fairly new development, even if only the parties have been polling likely voters.

It does seem that much of the GOP's gain, though, comes from the simple fact that polling companies are now switching over from polls of registered voters (or even just plain old adults) to likely voters. Which means the gains are largely on paper, but which also means that Republicans were never in quite as bad a shape as they seemed. So why were they all freaking out?

That said, there's also a genuine change in GOP fortunes. Maybe the public reads into things like a chapter of the Democratic Party planning a screening of Loose Change as a party building/fundraising stunt. They've since cancelled the event, but they wanted to show the film.

A lot of it has to do with gas prices. Jim Geraghty catches the St Petersburg Times still yammering on about how voters are angry about gas prices, failing to note the rather big news that gas prices are plummeting and the voters aren't quite so angry anymore.

And speaking of gas prices: JohnS sends me a link debunking claims of a conspiracy theory by "BigOil" to dump the price of gas and therefore get Bush re-elected. Not only is the posting pretty informative, it's from an unlikely source: A DailyKos diarist, who worked for the oil industry and kind of knows what the hell he's talking about. Even more remarkable is that many of the Kos posters seem to agree with him. (Many, but of course not nearly all.)

Geraghty also notes other data points that suggest a GOP victory in November, which of course you won't read about in the New York Times.

Here's one:

Percentage of Republican Base Voters who say they are “almost certain” to vote this November: 81 percent


Percentage of Republican Base Voters who say they are “very likely” to vote this November: 14 percent


Last cycle that 95 percent of Republicans were “very likely” or “almost certain” to vote: 2004

And he notes the latest breakdown from the Congressional Quarterly shows the GOP winning 15 more seats than the Democrats (including leaners), with 12 up for grabs.


More Gas News... National average now $2.50 and falling.

The Kossacks crying conspiracy theory are particularly upset that in key states -- like, say, Ohio, or border states -- the gas prices are lower than they are in, say, Boston or New York.

Gasoline prices continue to tumble briskly, dropping Monday to a U.S. average of less than $2.50 a gallon for the first time since March.

Service stations even are beginning old-fashioned gas wars to avoid losing customers to price-cutting rivals.

“Traders were racing to see how high they could take it. Now, retailers are racing to see how low. It's crazy,” says Mike O'Connor, president of the Virginia Petroleum, Convenience and Grocery Association.

A Wawa station in Gainesville, just off Interstate 66 in Northern Virginia, dropped to $1.999 Sunday, prompting competing 7-Eleven stations to match. That triggered lines and drained at least one station's tanks.

And check this out:

A hefty 42% of Americans polled over the weekend said they think fuel prices are being manipulated by the Bush administration to help Republicans in an election year. The USA TODAY/Gallup Poll has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Gee, I wonder which 42% of the public that might be.

The reaction of partisan liberals to all this is instructive. When gas prices were high, they complained, but were of course secretly quite happy to have such expensive gas.

Now that prices are tumbling, they're openly angry about it.


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posted by Ace at 11:20 AM

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