Where's the Base?

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, May 10, 2006; 1:03 PM

In case there was any doubt, today's New York Times/CBS Poll makes it clear: Even a substantial number of Republicans and conservatives are turning against the president.

Adam Nagourney and Megan Thee write in the New York Times: "Americans have a bleaker view of the country's direction than at any time in more than two decades, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Sharp disapproval of President Bush's handling of gasoline prices has combined with intensified unhappiness about Iraq to create a grim political environment for the White House and Congressional Republicans. . . .

"Mr. Bush's overall job approval rating hit another new low, 31 percent, tying the low point of his father in July 1992, four months before the elder Mr. Bush lost his bid for a second term to Bill Clinton. That is the third lowest approval rating of any president in 50 years; only Richard M. Nixon and Jimmy Carter were viewed less favorably.

"Mr. Bush is even losing support from what has been his base: 51 percent of conservatives and 69 percent of Republicans approve of the way Mr. Bush is handling his job. In both cases, those figures are a substantial drop in support from four months ago."

Here's Nagourney on video: "For an incumbent president, I have to say it's one of the most negative polls I've seen in a long time, maybe ever."

Here's a stunning graphic showing how everything's moving in the wrong direction for Bush.

Here are the complete results .

The Times poll comes on the heels of a similar Gallup poll. Susan Page wrote in USA Today yesterday: "Bush's fall is being fueled by erosion among support from conservatives and Republicans. In the poll, 52% of conservatives and 68% of Republicans approved of the job he is doing. Both are record lows among those groups."

Pollingreport aggregates poll results from all over.

Why Is It Happening?

John Podhoretz writes in his New York Post opinion column with one possible explanation: "Republicans and conservatives have grown weary of defending Bush. They've been fighting and fighting and fighting for years, and they see no letup in the hostility toward him or in the energy and determination of his critics. Faced with that implacable opposition, they've grown not disaffected but disheartened."

Phooey, writes Mickey Kaus in Slate. "Podhoretz can't bring himself to admit the obvious -- that Bush's push for a 'comprehensive' semi-amnesty immigration plan has been a disaster for him. Thanks presumably to Iraq and Social Security he was down to his base of 45 percent or so -- and then he willfully did something that [ticked] off half of them .

Byron York writes in the National Review: "Of several issues specifically covered by the Gallup poll -- the economy, foreign affairs, the situation in Iraq, terrorism, immigration, and energy policy -- immigration is the only area in which more Republicans disapprove of the president's policy than approve. And they disapprove by a significant margin: 52 percent of Republicans in the survey disapprove of Bush's immigration policy, versus 40 percent who approve."

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