The Minority Leader

By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Tuesday, April 26, 2005; 1:09 PM

In a campaign, all that matters is getting 51 percent of the vote.

But governing is a different story. Governing with only 51 percent of the people behind you is hard. And governing with less than that is even harder.

So the White House must be watching with some concern as President Bush's poll numbers continue to slide beneath the 50-50 mark-- and as Republican members of Congress are not falling in line like they used to.

Poll Watch

Richard Morin and Dan Balz write in The Washington Post about the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, which finds overwhelming opposition to changing the rules to make it easier for Republican leaders to win confirmation of President Bush's court nominees.

"The wide-ranging survey also recorded a precipitous decline in support for the centerpiece of Bush's Social Security plan -- private or personal accounts -- despite the fact that the president and other administration officials have been stumping the country in a 60-day blitz to mobilize support. The Post-ABC poll found that a bare majority -- 51 percent -- opposed such accounts, while 45 percent supported them.

"The poll also registered drops in key Bush performance ratings, growing pessimism about the economy and continuing concern about U.S. involvement in Iraq."

In fact, Bush's approval rating is now at 47 percent, down three points from last month and tying his all-time low in The Post poll.

"Taken together, the findings suggest that Bush is off to a difficult start in his second term, with Democrats far less willing to accommodate him and his agenda than his reelection victory last November may have foreshadowed. Beyond that, the survey highlights the divisions within the Republican Party, whether that involves Bush's signature Social Security proposal or the intersection of religion and politics that has become a defining characteristic of today's GOP."

Here are the complete poll results . And here's a graphic showing Bush's approval rating over time.

Losing Some of His Own

Ronald Brownstein writes in the Los Angeles Times: "Conflicts are multiplying between congressional Republican moderates and the White House as President Bush pursues his aggressively conservative second-term agenda.

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