Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Terrorism Scare Could Dominate the November Polls

Chris Cillizza in The Fix on the power of the national security issue bending in the Republicans favor. has asked this question on occassion during ASCENT Perspectives: is the Democratic takeover of Congress media hype? We've been thinking for some time that it is, seeing better chances for the Dems in the Senate than in the House since many Dem incumbents are just as vulnerable as many Republican incumbents. But, it's good cover to talk about this dramatic change on the political landscape. In the end, American voters will pick "fear" on the ballot box, drawing on one of our most humanistic urges: survival. Here's Cillizza:

The USA Today/Gallup poll seems to validate Republicans' decision to frame the 2006 midterm election around national security/terrorism.

Asked whether they approved of the job Bush was handling terrorism 55 percent of the sample said they did while 43 percent said they did not -- a 12 point net approval rating for Bush.
Contrast that with Bush's overall job approval rating in the poll (42 percent approve/54 percent disapprove) and his even more negative ratings on a variety of other issues including "foreign affairs" (39/55), the "situation in the Middle East" (39/56), the economy (39/57), the "problems caused by Hurricane Katrina" (37/56), the "situation in Iraq" (36/61) and energy policy (30/60).

Those results were mirrored in other polls conducted over the past month. In a survey conducted for Time Magazine 46 percent said they approved of Bush's handling of the global war on terrorism while 48 percent disapproved. Those numbers look a lot better when compared to the dismal 32 percent approve/64 percent disapprove numbers when asked to rate the president's handling of Iraq. His approval numbers were only slightly better on the economy (37/58).

The Post's own poll -- conducted in conjunction with ABC News -- showed much the same. Overall, 40 percent approved of the job Bush was doing while 58 percent diapproved. Bush's best numbers came on his handling of terrorism where 47 percent approved compared to 50 percent who disapproved. On Iraq (36/62), the economy (39/59), and the Middle East (43/50) Bush's numbers were less positive.