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Parsing the Polls on Bush

Four national polls released over the past week show President Bush's job approval trending upward over the last month, with experts saying the steadily growing economy and successful parliamentary elections in Iraq benefiting the administration.

Not all of the news is good for the White House, however, since Bush still carries a net negative job approval rating in each of the surveys, and more respondents said they disapprove than approve of his handling of the Iraq war.

What better fodder for this week's "Parsing the Polls" than to delve into the numbers and see whether Bush's bump is a temporary blip or a sign that he is beginning to make a political recovery? And with so much data to slice and dice look for even more "Parsing the Polls" later today focusing on how voters view Congress.

Please make sure to look through the surveys and offer any of your own thoughts in the comments section below. Also, I was online on Wednesday to answer readers questions about this and other political topics. Read the transcript here.

To the data!

According to the surveys released in the past week, Bush's approval rating has increased by an average of 7 percent when compared to polls conducted by those same organizations in early and mid-November. The list below shows the specifics of Bush's job approval in each survey.

Washington Post-ABC News

* December: 47
* November: 39
* Difference: Bush +8

Fox News/Opinion Dynamics

* December: 42
* November: 36
* Difference: Bush +6

USA Today/CNN/Gallup (See note below)

* December: 41
* November: 37
* Difference: Bush +4

Diageo/Hotline

* December: 50
* November: 39
* Difference: Bush +11

[Note: The November poll used was in the field from Nov. 11-13. It was chosen because that survey also tested voter opinions on Bush's handling of the war in Iraq and the economy where other poll conducted by Gallup did not.  They did, however, show less change in Bush's job approval numbers.  A Nov. 7-10 poll had Bush at 40 percent approval; a Nov. 17-20 poll had it at 38 percent.]

As Bush's overall job approval rating increased so too did voters estimation of his handling of issues at the top of their minds -- the war in Iraq and the economy.

In the Post poll, Bush's net approval on Iraq jumped from 36 percent to 46 percent between November and December.  Hotline/Diageo had 36 percent approving of Bush's handling of the war in November compared to 41 percent in their December survey. The Gallup survey showed a slight (though statistically insignificant) increase in Bush's approval on Iraq, from 35 percent in November to 37 percent in December.  Fox News did not ask respondents a question on Bush's handling of Iraq.

The same uptick was apparent in voter approval regarding Bush's stewardship of the economy. The Post poll had an 11 percent increase compared to an 8 point jump in the Hotline poll and a more modest 4 percent rise in the Gallup poll.

Mark Blumenthal, a Democratic pollster who runs the invaluable Mystery Pollster blog, said that his analysis of the recent data "suggest[s] Bush's approval rating is rising a bit but not 'surging.' We really need another round of surveys -- done after the holidays -- to know for sure."

The factor most-often cited for the president's rising approval numbers is the sustained campaign by the White House to emphasize successes in Iraq -- an effort that began on Dec. 1 with a speech at the U.S. Naval Academy and the release of a 35-page "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."  Three more speeches outlining the administration's case for why the war is worth fighting and winning followed on Dec. 7, 12 and 14. The Iraqi parliamentary election followed on Dec. 15, and Bush touted the results in a primetime address on Dec. 18.

The resulting flurry of media coverage coincided with the dates each of the four polls was in the field. The Hotline poll (Dec. 12-13) and the Fox poll (Dec. 13-14) came on the early end of that spectrum, while the Post (Dec. 15-18) and Gallup (Dec. 16-18) were polling at the culmination of the Bush public relations effort.

With the White House Iraq PR effort seemingly winding down, it remains to be seen whether Bush's December numbers are a blip or a building block. Several data points from the four surveys suggest Bush still has considerable work to do if he hopes to make these numbers the start of a recovery.

Although Bush's numbers have rebounded of late, in three of the four surveys more voters disapproved of his overall job performance as well as his handling of the Iraq war and the economy in three of the four surveys.  (Only the Hotline poll showed Bush with a net positive job approval rating.)

In addition, the Post and Gallup polls found a majority saying that the war was either "a mistake" or "not worth fighting. Fifty-two percent called the war a "mistake" in the Gallup poll while the same percentage said the war was "not worth fighting" in the Post survey. 

For a more detailed analysis of potential weaknesses for Bush in the poll, check out the latest Democracy Corps memo by Democratic campaign strategists Stan Greenberg and James Carville.

-- Chris Cillizza

P.S.  University of Wisconsin political science professor Charles Franklin offers his own theory on the recent slew of national polls on his blog.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 21, 2005; 9:05 AM ET
Categories:  Parsing the Polls  
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Next: More Parsing the Polls: Bad News for Congressional Republicans?

Comments

..a race you have overlooked is the senatorial race in Oregon. Would you care to take a bet that Gordon Smith is ousted? There is enough dirt on him that he will loose his senate seat and may end up in prson: his ties to Textronix and other corporations illegally selling hgh tech equipment to China, pre-invasion Iraq, Serbia, North Korea and other counties, his blind support of L series visa's, etc. Out here, we expect him to drop out of the race, late, under a sea of mud or cost the Republican's dearly across the West.

Posted by: Mike | December 30, 2005 3:31 PM | Report abuse

If you check you'll find that Bill Richardson can bot run for reelection, New
Mexico law doesn't allow it.

Posted by: romulusintexas | December 30, 2005 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Hey Chris, thanks for reading this....don't send me any more worms, Okay? You don't garner a lot of readers so I don't read here a lot, you're part of the machine....and yes I can feel you, but not for long.....ha ha ha...


Anyway people, the point is that the government isn't asking to be your friend they don't need you anymore. They have workers that can do the same job in other countries for far less....

Unfortunately from so much inbreeding they don't understand that eventually pissing in the water that they drink in is going to make them sick. Treating the "others" as if they were statistics on a sheet to be manipulated because it's been working for so long, is going to make it so that they are surrounded by sickness and have to spend money to contain it.

Curing the sickness actually requires thinking about you....that ain't going to happen.....ask your land-locked disenfranchised in LA, containment not solution is what the government is about. Because, right now they don't have friends that are affected...they don't know about it except as a rumor....you should help them to learn.

The government is run by the landed for the landed....what part of that don't you get?


Even McCarthyism. Were they afraid of COMMUNISM or losing position? IF you threaten their position they will attack using whatever methode works against you. Fear is always a good dog to make the sheep move.


What is ironic is that the current method is lack of caring for you, or thinking about the effects of living in a world that is pockets of affluence surrounded by deteriorating structure......

In most intelligent societies you keep the people at a level of intelligence, affluence and skill set that they're pleasant to be around, not continually feed off of them and then discard them....that's kind of olde fashioned...but it is what is going on....decidedly...

Your government doesn't care about you, ask Chris.....

Posted by: Comment about hate, | December 28, 2005 1:21 PM | Report abuse

He's not even a guy, he's a wuss with a bankroll the size of manhattan....


How many kids do you know that can have dad buy them the presidency, up to and including getting Kerry to roll over....c'mon....look at things the way they are....it's not talent, it's not even believe-ability...he's got none. It's my father belongs to a crowd that controls most of the world....and I'm part of that crowd. Get through school at one of the best colleges in the United States and still can't form a sentence properly. Get into the National Gaurd to avoid war and keep the National Gaurd offshore in another country fighting a war because I don't have trooops. Which is totally against the reason that they were created, and no one mentions the irony. Blah blah blah....win an election by being against gay marriage and even gays can't get it that they're being used, that he's not really homophobic...it's just a tactic....my my my

Even I can talk better than he does, even if I'm just goofing, not reading from script....besides, they've had in-the-ear mikes since clinton....give me an effing break.

He's a user. Just watching Last of the Mohicans again last night...scene where a family of settlers got killed after doing 7 years in Virginia as an indentured servants. Non-landed/immigrants were needed originally because there was so much land to settle, and work. True even in Australia, being in control-rule/land control-grants/government you still got "your blueblood cut" by giving people freedom as a bait to settle and remove risk, unlanded didn't really have freedom/ownership because rulers could "change things" as you needed to. They took the risk of their lives 'cause they couldn't make it within the colonial system... Religious freedom used to be a big thing....Protestants means protestors against papist rule...not that I care, crookedness is crookedness. If your group expresses and uses gawd as a threat...I don't care where you wear your towel. Our forefathers were a mixture of people that dreamed of a better government for everyone and people that were given something/bribed to support the dream....and those that were given something haven't quit taking and they've kept up their relations with their friends over the centuries....it's called class.


Guess which side your presidents family was, dreamers of democracy or a bribe takers/givers.

And for someone who belongs to the UPPER? class to have so little of it, my my, the only thing that can cover for it is money in our starry eyes, and influence...that and appeal to redneck mentality...via the mail rove machine.

Anyone with a modicum of intelligence can see, hear and smell that....shit stinks.

Posted by: Kinda irritated by the obvious neglect of the people guy... | December 28, 2005 11:53 AM | Report abuse

IBN, you know the answer to the question you posed. There will be no special prosecutor and no impeachment of Bush as long as the GOP controls both the House and Senate.

Apparently, the alleged conservative ideal of a less-intrusive government was a bald-faced lie. If not, than let the true conservative GOPers (and Moderates) speak out against this man who so casually tramples on the Constitution. Right now, the ones doing the defecting are the libertarians.

Posted by: scootmandubious | December 22, 2005 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Have we not the gumption to appoint at least a special proscecutor to look into both King George and the Duke of Dick for lying to the American public on WMD and the case for going to war and now illegal domestic spying. Doesnt the AMerican public see this as a crisis in our constituion that the office of the President and VP are operating not only above the US Laws and constition but international laws as well in regards to torture, etc.

For the fact the entire GOp party has trammpled on Americas rights in regard to the current Patriot Act, the Terry Schiavo legislation, and the insistence of the social right to put intelligent design into our childrens classrooms. I tell you, this country seems to be ran more like the communist country of Russia that we grew up learning about during the cold war years.

Posted by: ImpeachBushNow | December 21, 2005 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that all I see and here is HATE when people talk about our President. He has had to do things during his Administration that most Potential Presidental Canidates would even think of doing or have the nerve to do. Stop listening to our Demo Congressman radicals and listen to yourself. Is what the haters are saying is right? No one is perfect, those who don't make mistakes isn't doing anything. OH, by the way our President, G. W. Bush, can't run next year so don't worry.

Posted by: Iowantaz | December 21, 2005 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Most Americans neutral toward Bush? Are you kidding me? What planet have you been on the last 5 years?!? George W. Bush is the most polarizing president we've had in DECADES! I can't remember when I've ever heard someone express an opinion of Bush that wasn't either very positive or very negative.

The ones who can't get English right are Americans, trust me. Many Americans couldn't even pass the US citizenship test, let alone an English one.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 21, 2005 6:18 PM | Report abuse

"THESE people SCARES the hell out of me."

It seems that most of these postings are from anti-american foreigners that have yet to master the art of forming a standard english sentence.

Posted by: The moonbats come out at night | December 21, 2005 6:08 PM | Report abuse

This Errinf is a typical examplee as to why our Country is in the state that it is today. These people scares the hell out of me. Suck, Suck, Suck. Posted by: ErrinF | Dec 21, 2005 2:12:11 PM | Permalink

Posted by: phlacerte | December 21, 2005 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Errin, dear, where's your vitriol? You can't post on this site without at least calling the President a name or two. Reasoned argument is so passe. Get with the program. If you can't call for impeachment or call him a liar, don't bother.

Posted by: butchfrom tampa | December 21, 2005 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I don't care too much for Bush either, but it makes sense to me that most Americans are neutral towards him, plus they give him the benefit of the doubt and occasional support merely because he is president (deference to the office and deference to the person holding office are two different things). That's why there's room for his polls to fluctuate.
I'd also add that poll numbers are more of a reflection on the subject of the poll than the people being polled. For instance, Bush's recent low poll numbers after Katrina and during Harriet Miers were self-inflicted. The American electorate that gets polled will pretty much stay the same group on non-partisan and partisan people; It's the actions of Bush and the events he'll have to respond to that will determine how his next poll numbers are, not a supposedly fickle American public.

Posted by: ErrinF | December 21, 2005 2:12 PM | Report abuse

if you check the zogby, non-partisan, poll relative to the impeachment question you will find that 52 percent impeachement if it is proved that the dictator called bush commitmeted a crime .. which of course he has already done starting with the deliberate lying to congress relative to the 'evidence' used to jutisfy going into iraq. can anyone imagine if this had been clinton ? and now breaking the law relative to the secret spying of americans ? guess the repiglicans think a blow job in the white house is much more servere and serious than what they goon president has done, eh ?
yet when you have a country in which there is an epidemic of obsessity, where 70 percent of the population is either overweight or obesse and narcisstic what do you expect from this country ? you have 300 million people living in american and only 20 million even bother to tune into the evening news such as it is. nope, only concern is where the next hamburger is, then farting in someone else's face while answering yet another cell phone call. that's america,

Posted by: alias | December 21, 2005 2:11 PM | Report abuse

How much more does he have to do to get him impeached?

Posted by: jerryv | December 21, 2005 2:08 PM | Report abuse

It is amazing that the American people can be so naive to trust a President that finally admitted not only to be wrong, but
accept that the intelligence to go to war was not based on reliable information.
God help us...He ha three more years to do more harm....

Posted by: Virgil F. Compain | December 21, 2005 2:06 PM | Report abuse

To the extent that polls suggest somewhat increased support for Bush, I wonder about the reasons given. I'm somewhat skeptical about very positive changes from the (supposed?) improvement in the economy, which doesn't seem to be helping real people much or from the supposed progress in Iraq. I suspect that part of the reason is that gas prices have declined. That may well affect people's sense of economic well-being and security more than gross national numbers do. Bush may be benefiting from that though he probably hasn't done anything to contribute to it. But then I think some of the heat he took for the rapid rise in prices was unwarranted, too. Certainly his policies tend to encourage higher fuel prices by increasing demand and to increase vulnerability on fuel supply and prices. But that isn't really the reason for the rapid increase after Katrina.

Posted by: Mark B. | December 21, 2005 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Actually, support for impeaching Bush was at 32% in the last poll I saw on it. There's a link to it from my blog.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 21, 2005 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I too am in complete awe of how blinded the American Public is to what is probably the most corrupt administration in our nation's history. Nixon/Agnew look like boyscouts compared to these clowns.

If the polls cited were actually true, it is amazing that that some cheerleader style rhetoric on TV by Bush changes the minds of that many people. Very Scary how blissful americans can be.

Posted by: K | December 21, 2005 1:42 PM | Report abuse

With a MAX Effort by the White House they are still in the low to very low 40s in the polls they & the Repub. Party are in big trouble. They need to replace Karl Rove and get a fresh team if they are to retain control of the Congress.

Posted by: Peter Lorenzo | December 21, 2005 1:36 PM | Report abuse

It would seem that the American mind has no skill in following logic. If it did, we would be able to equate Bush's actions with dictatorship. How many more lives are Americans willing to expend for victory when we have no definition of victory? How many more billions of dollars in debt are we willing to bear?

Posted by: Wendy A. Albright | December 21, 2005 1:29 PM | Report abuse

none of these polls matter until they are viewed against the polling questions all of America is curious to know...

"Should the President be impeached for lying to the public in the rush to war?"
"Should the President be impeached for violating the Fourth Amendment?"

WE'RE AHEAD OF YOU POLLSTERS... CATCH UP.

Posted by: Seeking Transparency | December 21, 2005 12:56 PM | Report abuse


We have a Whitehouse that engages in secret domestic spying by secret decree; monitors personal library use; maintains secret prisons for unidentified prisoners held without recourse; engages in abusive treatment (if not torture) of prisoners; plants propaganda articles in domestic and foreign media; and formulates its domestic agenda based upon fundamentalist religious principles. It sounds more like governments that we are seeking to reform, and not the ideal we purport to represent.
Donald M. Millinger
Philadelphia, Dec. 19, 2005
this letter to the editor in yesterday's NYtimes says it way better i than i could!
http://einkleinesblog.blogspot.com/

•

Posted by: jay lassiter | December 21, 2005 12:49 PM | Report abuse

What kind of an idiot would think Bush is a screw-up one day and then 2 weeks later change his/her mind and start believing him?---If these polls are correct,this country is in even more trouble than I thought.

Posted by: Dennis W Smith | December 21, 2005 12:45 PM | Report abuse

George W. Bush has done absolutely nothing right! Aside from the fact that his boss, Dick Cheney, dictates his every move, the results of his every move, are proof that this administration is incompetent, at best.......... treasonous at worst (nearer the fact).

Posted by: Jerry McIntyre | December 21, 2005 12:34 PM | Report abuse

It's often been noted that people respond to pictures and quick "sound bytes" on television rather than any substantive information they see or hear. The fact that King George has been "seen" more on TV, acting huffy and in charge has obviously skewed people's minds to thinking he is doing a better job. It doesn't matter what the facts are, it doesn't matter how many civil liberties he violates, it doesn't even matter to most Americans that he is contradicting himself (see his 2004 press conference where he insists that wiretapping requires a court order!)... we are in a very bad way and I don't see things getting much better. I must add my name to the growing list of Americans who are ashamed of what our government represents and what our populace deems righteous.

Posted by: This proves the media controls everything | December 21, 2005 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I was too late to comment on the chat (excellent as usual), but I loved one of the comments you made. It was the question that contained WOT meaning War on Terror and HOR meaning House of Reps. You called these "acronyms," but they are actually abbreviations. Acronyms shorten something into a new word (SCUBA) while you say the individual letters of an abbreviation (AARP). That said, given the Abramoff stuff, maybe HOR is an acronym after all!

Posted by: Scott | December 21, 2005 12:27 PM | Report abuse

It seems that the disclosure of all the lies upon which the President based his illegal war rather left the right-wingers with little room for argument. However, his many recent speeches have given them their "talking ponts" and they have discovered a fresh fervor for marching in lock-step. They want so desperately to believe that this man is what he said he was that they will grasp at any straw to justify the dumping of our democracy down the drain in the interest of "national security".

Posted by: Mumzee | December 21, 2005 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Why is there no emphasis on how the polls rate Congress? Is it because they can't remember all of the Congressmen's and Senator's names? It is very easy to just say "Bush" and be done with it, but that is hardly the whole story, is it? Congress has very low poll ratings! Last I heard they were at 31% and holding in that pattern. UCLA's recent analysis of the news media over the past ten years has shown the vast majority of the press IS liberal. Take THAT, Chris Mathews!

Posted by: HugMe | December 21, 2005 12:15 PM | Report abuse

the manipulation of the polls by this extension of the white house called the washington post/abc polls is shit. look at today's paper in which it claims that the majority of people polled support alito. just yesterday a poll by fox news of all things reported only 35 percent of the people support this man.

Posted by: alias | December 21, 2005 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Wow - this actually made an attempt to be fair and objective. Didn't expect it out of Cillizza.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2005 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Thank you.
AMERICA LOOK IN THE MIRROR.
I DON"T THINK YOU WILL LIKE WHAT YOU SEE
IF YOU TAKE OFF THE BLINDERS>
LONG LIVE FREEDOM, LIBERTY AND THE RIGHT TO HAPPINESS.
Y'all are happy aren't ya?

Posted by: To world | December 21, 2005 10:59 AM | Report abuse

As a person who visited the U.S on many occasions,brought my family on holiday's there etc, and was brought up to be pro U.S. Have you people any idea how universally disliked and distrusted Mr Bush,Cheney,Rumsfeld et al are. Please wake up and restore your once great country to its rightful standing in the eyes of the world.

Posted by: liamm | December 21, 2005 10:49 AM | Report abuse

As a person who visited the U.S on many occasions,brought my family on holiday's there etc, and was brought up to be pro U.S. Have you people any idea how universally disliked and distrusted Mr Bush,Cheney,Rumsfeld et al are. Please wake up and restore your once great country to its rightful standing in the eyes of the world.

Posted by: liamm | December 21, 2005 10:47 AM | Report abuse

what your manipulated polls do not show is the percentage of difference that is used to 'weight' the polls which are always in favor of the republicans. it is utterly dishonest and reflects the corporate media's agenda to prop up this stupid dictator. remember abc admitted this weighting difference, as does the gallup poll. and remember the washington post gave to bush $100,000.00 for his reinaugaration crap. howcome you did not site the zogby poll here which only shows a 38percent approval, or the nbc/wall street one which sites 39 percent ? howcome? go look in the mirror you lacky.

Posted by: alias | December 21, 2005 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Timing is everything. I will be more than a little bit shocked if the president does not take a solid hit in the next round of polling, based upon his admission of spying on U.S. citizens.

It is the sort of issue which reminds people why they have an issue with this administration in the first place.

Additionally, if the media took the time to report that the promises on New Orleans were left unfulfilled, or if they gave as much airing to the opposition as they did to the president's PR blitz, the polls might have turned out differently.

I think the next round of polls will be very revealing, indeed.

Posted by: scootmandubious | December 21, 2005 9:44 AM | Report abuse

It is unbelievable to me that the American people are so easily swayed. I largely support the President and would be one to approve of his job performance, however this wouldn't be changed based on the news cycle. It goes to show how easily influenced the American people are by the preponderance of news coverage - a sad statement of the power of the political leanings of the press.

Posted by: Rick | December 21, 2005 9:43 AM | Report abuse

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