Bush’s Approval Ratings

Perhaps surprisingly, Bush’s approval ratings have held roughly constant over the past month. The chart below shows the running average of 10 national polls from January 1 of this year to today, with 95% confidence bands. (For context, take a look at this post about Bush’s approval ratings on the American Street.)

The recent stability in Bush’s approval ratings may be surprising to some, given that over the past month people heard about Richard Clarke’s damaging book, saw further administration stonewalling and obfuscation regarding the 9/11 commission, and watched the situation in Iraq become more deadly and chaotic by the day.

So why aren’t his approval ratings suffering? There are several theories.

First, one must keep in mind that there has been some good news, too, such as improving employment statistics. Perhaps this good news has counteracted the bad news. Second, it’s possible that the particular examples of bad news that I mentioned above are seen (at least by those who were still approving of Bush a month ago) as not being Bush’s fault. Third, perhaps it those pieces of bad news were not given much importance by those who still approve of Bush. For example, maybe people who approve of Bush didn’t place much stock in Clarke’s testimony and don’t see the increased difficulty in Iraq as being surprising or particularly worrying.

Put another way, we may be at or near the lower bound of Bush’s approval ratings. It may be the case that those who still support Bush at this point are likely to do so no matter what happens. If things continue on their current trajectory in Iraq and regarding the 9/11 commission, we may well find this theory tested over the coming months.