Ugly, Ugly Poll Numbers

Perhaps because they were so intent on sticking it to their hated nemesis, Chimpy Mcbushhitler, CNN buried the lede in an article on some very depressing poll numbers for Republicans. Here’s how they began the piece:

“A majority would vote for a Democrat over President Bush if an election were held this year, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll released Tuesday.

In the latest poll, 55 percent of the respondents said that they would vote for the Democratic candidate if Bush were again running for the presidency this year.

Thirty-nine percent of those interviewed said they would vote for Bush in the hypothetical election.”

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Well, that might be relevant if this were an election year or George Bush were running for office again, but since he’s not, who cares?

On the other hand, these are some numbers that should be a wake-up call to Republicans:

“On separate issues, a majority of those questioned felt the Democrats could do a better job than Republicans at handling health care (59 percent to 30 percent), Social Security (56 percent to 33 percent), gasoline prices (51 percent to 31 percent) and the economy (50 percent to 38 percent).

Forty-six percent also believed Democrats could do better at handling Iraq, while 40 percent said the GOP would do better.

In 2003, 53 percent said Republicans would better handle Iraq and only 29 percent believed the Democrats would do better.

The only issue on which Republicans came out on top was in fighting terrorism: 49 percent said the GOP is better at it, while 38 percent said the Democrats are.

And there was a dramatic shift downward in the latest poll, compared with September, in the percentage of people who said that it was a mistake to send U.S. troops to Iraq.

This time, 49 percent said it was a mistake, versus 59 percent who felt that way last month.”

The adoption of the Iraqi Constitution apparently turned a few people around on Iraq and the GOP is still getting good marks for fighting terrorism, but we’re getting buried in every other area. Any way you spin it, that’s still bad news.

Health Care and Social Security are areas that Democrats usually hold a significant advantage, so while those numbers aren’t good, they’re less scary than they would be otherwise. But when the public believes the Democrats would do a better job at handling Iraq and would prefer for them to handle gas prices by 20% and the economy by 12%, that’s troubling.

The good news is: this isn’t an election year. We’ve got a full year to turn these numbers around — and I have confidence we can do so, especially in Iraq where the trial of Saddam, another successful election, and troops coming home should help prove the worth of Bush’s policy over the next few months.

But, Republicans also need to acknowledge that we’re in a hole with the public and the first thing to do when you’re in a hole, is stop digging. Bush needs to pull the Miers nomination, stop pushing his unpopular guest worker program, get serious about securing the borders, cut spending, start talking up the strength of the economy, and make more of an effort to publicize the things he has done (and wants to do) to cut gas prices.

Again, a turnaround for the GOP by 2006 is very possible, especially since the Democrats haven’t exactly been covering themselves with glory over the last year, but it’s time for Republicans in Washington to understand that things aren’t going so well politically. Some Republicans in the House seem to be starting to get the message, at least when it comes to spending, but the White House and most of the Republicans in the Senate seem to be oblivious. That needs to change…and soon.

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