Q&A Friday #68: How Can Bush Have Alienated Conservatives When So Many Of Them Still Support Him?

Question: “If President Bush has really “alienated” the conservative base with this recent immigration push, why is it that his approval rating in every poll is just about where it has been since January (low 30s)? Who are these unseen 30-35% of Americans who still approve of the job he’s doing, if not conservative Republicans?” — maledicta

Answer: Bush still has majority support amongst conservatives and/or Republicans.

For example, according to the latest Fox poll, Bush’s approval rating breaks down like so,

Democrats: 12% approval, 85% disapproval
Independents: 21% approval, 65% disapproval
Republicans: 61% approval, 26% disapproval
Overall: 31% approval, 60% approval.

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You may think, wow, 61% is pretty good. But, just after the 2004 election, Bush had a 90% approval rating with Republicans.

So, he has gone from a point where 9 out of every 10 Republican supported him to a point where he almost has a Republican “agin him” for every 2 Republicans that are for him.

Furthermore, it’s even worse on some key issues. For example, according to Rasmussen,

“On immigration, the President earns good or excellent reviews from 24% of Republicans while 48% in his party say he’s doing a poor job.”

So, we just spent weeks fighting over a key issue in the Senate, with the President leading the charge, and his own base was opposing him 2 to 1.

You’ve also got to remember that polls are snapshots of public opinion that generally do a poor job of capturing intensity. With that in mind, I think it’s safe to say that 61% of Republicans that approve of Bush today are considerably less enthusiastic, confident, and passionate in their feelings than the 90% of Republicans who supported him after the 2004 elections.

In other words, does Bush still have support in the Republican party? Yes, he does. But, his numbers are much lower than they should be and his supporters simply don’t have the sort of energy and drive behind them that they did not so long ago.

PS: This is another great opportunity to tout my theory about the enormous impact the new media has on conservatives and the public at large in certain circumstances. It goes something like this…

The public understands that the mainstream media is biased against Republicans and so they take what they say with a grain of salt. Obviously, if that wasn’t true, the GOP would never win an election because the MSM is stacked so heavily against us.

However, it doesn’t work the same way with the rightosphere and talk radio. If a conservative criticizes a Republican, the public tends to take that criticism to heart in a way that they don’t with the MSM, because they figure, “Hey, that blogger/talk show host is on his side. So, if he’s criticizing him, there has to be some “there, there.”

What this means is that a Republican desperately needs to get strong support from his base, because harsh criticism from a Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, or Laura Ingraham can do more damage than 10 articles saying the exact same thing in MSM outlets.

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