President Bush’s approval ratings have been steadily declining since the day he took office. There have been three exceptions to that trend:
Graphically, Bush’s numbers tell a compelling story of a failing administration.
I made this graph after wondering what Bush’s chances of re-election are. I thought they were much better than this. If the election were held today, according to Gallup’s approval ratings, Bush would get about 49% of the vote — which in the opinion of the US Supreme Court is a majority. I meant that to be a joke, but it’s actually not funny.
Anyway, as I studied this graph I realized that the President’s staffmembers must be studying it too. The Bush administration is known for being media-savvy; get the full scoop on the president’s “advance team” of choreographers, lighting designers, and staging experts in this NYT article, Keepers of Bush Image Lift Stagecraft to New Heights. If Bush has a personal lighting designer, he’s certain to have someone who reads the polls every day.
Which means Bush knows the only thing that can rescue his declining approval ratings is an act of aggression. Look at the graph — war is the only thing Bush ever got respect for.
Where does that leave us, in these nine months before the election? Due for conflict, I’m afraid.
And it’s worse even than that. The capture of Hussein was a small blip on the graph. The invasion of Iraq was slightly larger. The one thing that really sent Bush’s approval ratings through the ceiling was his macho-aggressive speech after the WTC bombing.
So, in terms of approval ratings, the best thing that could happen to the Bush administration would be for the US to be attacked again. That’s a pretty ugly conflict of interest.
(The data in the graph was collected by the Gallup Organization and reported at PollingReport.com. For those of you who doubt my graph is real, feel free to download the source data I used. Dump it into Excel and see for yourselves.)