May 3, 2002


Bush's rating not just wartime bounce (Richard Benedetto, 05/02/2002, USA TODAY)
There is more to President Bush's relatively high approval ratings than just the patriotic, rally-round-the-flag effect of his leadership in the war on terrorism, a new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll suggests.

Built on the faith Americans showed in him following his response to terror attacks on Sept. 11, the poll shows that almost eight months later Bush has developed an image among most Americans as a strong, competent, leader who shares their values and has elevated respect for presidency.

Once seen by many as not quite up to the job, analysts say he has effectively used the groundswell of support that buoyed him after the attacks to earn high marks for his overall conduct in office and forge strong personal bonds with a broad majority of Americans.

"You've got to think this is more than just the normal bounce from the rally effect," says independent pollster Larry Hugick of Princeton Research Associates. "We have seen some slippage in Bush's approval after peaking in October, but his personal ratings are still quite high."

The poll suggests that Americans have taken a closer look at Bush since Sept. 11 and find that while they strongly approve of how he has led the country in response to the terrorist attacks, they also generally like him as a person and admire his character, regardless of whether they agree with him on the issues.

Here's the thing you have to admire about Republicans; John McCain would have beaten Al Gore by double-digits, because we would have had to hold our noses and vote for him, while he would have attracted some significant number of Democrats, which George W. Bush obviously failed to do. But the GOP stuck to its principles rather than acting expediently, and nominated the guy who everyone understood would have a tougher time winning but who we felt would make a better president. That the kind of crisis came along which both bore out our judgment and demonstrated the wisdom of our choice to the rest of the American people is something of a mixed blessing. But the choice of Bush over McCain in the first place is something to be proud of. Posted by Orrin Judd at May 3, 2002 1:14 PM
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