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July 1, 2006
Fox Poll Shows Bush Solidifying The Base

A new poll by Fox News shows Bush gaining support, especially from his base, in the wake of the Democrats' attempts to force a withdrawal from Iraq. His overall job approval has held steady at 41%, up from the low 30s before the retreat/withdrawal/redeployment strategies of the Democrats took center stage. The good news for the White House does not end there:

President Bush’s job rating is holding ground as 41 percent of Americans say they approve of his performance and 50 percent disapprove. Earlier this month, soon after terrorist leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. airstrike, Bush hit 40 percent for the first time in months. His current approval rating is 8 percentage points higher than his record low of 33 percent earlier this year (April 18-19).

The partisan divide is evident throughout many of the poll results, including the president’s job rating: most Republicans (79 percent) approve of Bush’s performance and most Democrats disapprove (83 percent).

“While Bush has gained a little support across the board, most of his gain from the low point has come by reinforcing his base,” comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman. “His political advisers have always been most concerned with the Republican/conservative base and you see a wide range of initiatives both substantive and symbolic designed to rally and motivate that base.”

The base still has major issues with the administration, especially on immigration. They want a borders-first approach that Bush has declined to substantively support to this point. They want him to get serious about filling the judicial openings, especially the two on the DC appellate court that still remain open. Spending issues cause even more friction. However, the Democrats did Bush a huge favor this year, spearheaded by Russ Feingold, John Murtha, and John Kerry, by trying to undercut the war on terror. That effort reminded the base exactly what they risked with a total disaffection from Bush this November.

The poll holds other good news, as noted by Hot Air. The public in general supported the Swift program of tracking terrorist money by a similar level as that of the NSA programs also revealed by the New York Times. It received an overall level of support of 70%, with majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents all believing to be beneficial to our national security.

The media may not like these results very much. While a majority of Americans rightly blamed the leakers for exposing the program (51%), 43% called the media's actions "treason" and two-thirds believe they should be indicted for their efforts to publish the information. By a wide margin, Americans believe that the media damaged the nation rather than strengthened it with its reporting on covert tactics (60%-27%). Not too many believed Bill Keller's explanation that the Times published it with its civic obligations in mind; only 37% bought that argument.

The gap between Democrats and Republicans in a generic run for Congress dropped significantly from earlier this year. That had registered in double digits at one point, fueling Democratic hopes for a takeover in the House. Now that gap has narrowed to six points, just over the margin of error and too close to hope for any significant gains. The Republicans have reasserted their advantage on national security, with an 11-point gap. The Democrats have the advantage on the economy by eight points -- but with the Bush economy continuing its strong run, expect the GOP to start hammering on their record of success to narrow that advantage.

These numbers bode ill for Democrats, only five months away from the election. If these trends continue, they will face their fourth straight humiliation -- and they will only have themselves to blame.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 1, 2006 12:53 PM

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