Bad Poll News

… if you’re George W. Bush, that is. His poll numbers are falling like a clumsy mountain bike rider. Ruy T.’s got the details:

Wow! Not only has Bush’s approval rating on handling the war on terrorism been dropping like a stone, the Annenberg Election Survey has now measured it in net negative territory: 46 percent approval/50 percent disapproval (May 17-23). That’s a first and a very significant first. It means Bush’s area of greatest strength is rapidly turning into political liability.

And check out the internals on this question: 41/53 among independents; 41/56 among 18-29 year olds; 41/56 among Hispanics and 40/54 among moderates.

Read the rest for more numbers and analysis.

A thought. I’ve heard two concerns from liberals in the last few weeks: first, why aren’t Kerry’s numbers going up?; second, why isn’t Kerry speaking up more? I think that Kerry’s numbers have in fact gone up, if the appropriate counterfactual is kept in mind. To wit, Bush spent an unprecedented $50m in March and $31m in April, yet Kerry’s numbers didn’t go down and actually increased modestly in some polls. So, compared to the effect that Bush’s unleashing of his campaign war chest was expected to have, Kerry’s doing just fine.

Regarding whether Kerry should speak up more at this stage, I think it’s clear that he should not. When everything the President touches goes badly, taking any of the media spotlight away from Bush would be a mistake — if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Save your money and bide your time. Savvy.