Kevin Drum has linked to this graph of Bush’s 10-poll average approval ratings. It’s really beautiful. Since his 9/11 85% rating, his approval has descended to about 48%. There have been two wartime spikes on the way, but after each spike the approval drops again.
The wartime spikes tell us, of course, that Bush will make security his main issue. The only other issues he’s got are low taxes and the social issues, and most people have made up their minds about those. The poll also tells us why they will do anything whatever to destroy Clarke, and why, even if they didn’t really want to (JOKE!), the republicans would be forced to run a negative campaign. Bush really can’t run on his record.
Past experience tells us that poll results don’t ultimately mean anything. The Republicans are masters at spreading large amounts of confusion at the last minute, and my belief is that they actually do not want landslides. For them, political capital is something to spend in order to ram their policies through, and if they had 65% approval they would just take that as justification for pushing an unpopular part of their agenda a little bit harder.
But still — Bush is NOT “a popular President”.