Reading tea leaves on approval numbers, trust factors

Analysis by Chris Graham

President Bush’s approval rating is at its lowest point in his presidency, and one of the bottom 10 approval ratings on record. But even with that being the case, he’s twice as popular as Congress.

Bush’s average quarterly approval rating is at 29 percent for the most recent quarter surveyed by Gallup, the organization reported today. The only thing that saved it from being even lower was a small jolt to 31 percent for the month of July. Bush’s approval rating had been at 28 percent for the three months previous.

As bad as it is for the president, though, Congress is historically bad. Try 14 percent, or about one in every seven Americans who think Congress is doing a good job. Given the control of both houses of Congress by Democratic majorities, that would seem to not bode well for Democrats in the fall, though Gallup raised an interesting issue in the data involving how Democratic voters surveyed are even less likely to approve of the job of Congress right now (at 11 percent, versus a 19 percent approval rating for the current Congress among Republicans). I still don’t know what to make of this, though it seems that it would be harder for Congress as an entity to pull a significant amount of institutional support given the nature of the bicameral, two-party legislature with multiple centers of power that could individually be the objects of scorn as much or more than the body itself.

Two interesting data bites from Rasmussen Reports – one, 48 percent of voters surveyed by Rasmussen agree with Democrat Barack Obama that Iraq is not the central front in the war on terror, while only a third of those surveyed disagree with him on that point; and two, Democrats are winning the voter-trust war, with those surveyed by Rasmussen saying they trust Democrats more than Republicans on seven of 10 key voting issues, including, significantly, the economy.

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