Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Our guy isn't as unpopular as your guys!

Voters unhappy with Bush and Congress: "Bush's job approval rating fell to 24 percent from last month's record low for a Zogby poll of 29 percent. A paltry 11 percent gave Congress a positive grade, tying last month's record low."

These results are generating the typical cacophony of "Bush may be unpopular but Congress is worse!" from the usual suspects. Besides this being a pathetic attempt to grasp at a mirage of a silver lining there are two fundamental problems with comparing these results.

First, Bush and Congress' unpopularity are tied primarily to the same phenomena: the unpopularity of the Iraq War. Bush is unpopular for getting us into this war and refusing to listen to any suggestions for getting out. Congress is unpopular because they aren't doing enough to force him to listen.

Even so, why is Bush's popularity still higher than Congress'? This gets to the second problem. Polls of Bush's popularity are of a polls of one individual. Polls of Congress' popularity are polls of a faceless institution. In other words, its a generic poll.

The generic presidential preference polls (Democrat vs. Republican) have Democrats with large double-digit leads. Yet specific head-to-head matchups of actual candidates are much closer (with the Democrats still holding a smaller, but still significant, lead).

Also, people generally always rank Congress as lower than their own representatives. It's easier to be angry at a faceless CongressCritter than to criticize the guy who you voted for in the last election.

An 11% approval rating is nothing to dismiss out of hand, of course. It is distressingly low. But Bushies have nothing to be happy about when looking at their guys 24%.


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