February 26, 2007

INSIDE THE BELTWAY IS BLUE AMERICA:

GOP is abandoning Bush? Not quite (Richard Benedetto, 2/26/07, USA Today)

The Washington punditocracy has proclaimed far and wide that Republicans, disenchanted with the war in Iraq, are abandoning President Bush in droves, leaving him the lamest of lame ducks. However, the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll suggests Bush might not be as wounded as he appears -- at least not among his party faithful.

The Feb. 9-11 poll puts Bush's job approval at 37%, but among people who identify themselves as Republican or leaning Republican, his approval rating is 76%.

Thus, despite bad news from Baghdad and carefully crafted hand-wringing by high-profile GOP war critics in Congress such as Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, three of four Republicans in the country are hanging in there with the president.

The poll also shows that rank-and-file Republicans have higher regard for the president than they do Republicans in Congress. They gave GOP lawmakers a 63% job-approval rating, 13 points below Bush's. And 72% of Republicans do not think Bush made a mistake sending U.S. troops to Iraq.

So if congressional Republicans figure the key to re-election in 2008 is taking a hard line against Bush on Iraq, they could be dead wrong. They might lure some independents, but they risk alienating their GOP base. To win, you need solid support from your base plus independents, not independents alone.

Conventional wisdom also says the presidential ambitions of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., could be derailed by his strong support for the war. This poll, however, shows that his stance could be a plus among the base.


Running against W could hardly have served them worse in the midterm.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 26, 2007 12:01 AM
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