Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Poll Watch

New poll results from the LA Times
While Bush still draws high marks for his handling of terrorism and engenders respect as a level-headed chief executive, his overall job-approval rating dropped to 56%. That is down seven percentage points from December, and it is as low as he has ever received in a Times Poll during his presidency. "My feeling about him has changed in the past two years," said Peggy Farber, a law student and Democrat in New York who responded to the poll. "I thought when he came into office his judgment might be pretty good; I thought his education package, for instance, was a good idea. But now I don't feel he has good judgment at all. It's gone." Farber's disillusionment underscores one of the poll's most striking trends: the widening polarization of opinion about Bush.
There's an old saying: the higher they are the harder they fall. I have a feeling that, as people's judgement of Bush falls, they will end up a lot like Peggy Farber: REALLY down on him.
The poll found that Bush has one other significant asset in this swirling debate: a reservoir of faith in his judgment. By 55% to 39%, those surveyed said they trusted him to ultimately "make the right decision" about going to war with Iraq. In fact, confidence in Bush's personal qualities -- along with unwavering support from his GOP base -- appears to be the foundation of his continuing political strength. For instance, when those who approve of Bush's performance as president were asked why, they overwhelmingly pointed to not policies but personal attributes: 30% said he was a strong leader and 15% called him trustworthy. By contrast, those who disapproved of Bush pointed to policies, with 40% citing Iraq and 12% his economic package.
When in times of trouble people want to believe their President is the right man for the job. This, more then actually performance, goes a long way towards explaining why so many people think Bush will do the right thing. It's called wishful thinking and all of us suffer from it to one degree or another. Having said that, it is bizarre that, while so many people opposed Bush's march to war, or are at least very wary of it, many of them say they will still support him if and when he does take us to war. In other words, there is a significant percentage of people out there who will support him even if they think he is doing the wrong thing simply because he is the President and we would be at war. Can anyone explain that kind of thinking to me? Please?


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