May 19, 2004
Bush: Not as popular in Texas as you might think

Here are the results of the most recent Scripps Howard Texas Poll, which mostly asked approve/disapprove questions about various politicians. We'll start with the best news for President Bush, which is that he leads John Kerry in Texas by a 58-29 margin (4% "other", 9% "don't know/no answer"). That's up from 54-36 earlier this year. Not that anyone expected Texas to even remotely resemble a swing state, but we all know that Bush is going to depend heavily on his base in November, and Texas is very much his base. If he ever dips to 50% here, he's going to be in real trouble everywhere else.

Not so good for him: As with the national polls, Bush's overall approval and will-vote-for numbers are better than his numbers on specific issues. Here's the breakdown:

2. How would you rate the job George W. Bush is doing as president -- excellent, good, only fair or poor?

Spring '04 Fall '03 Spring '03
Excellent 25% 30% 43%
Good 34% 28% 28%
Only fair 20% 21% 16%
Poor 19% 20% 27%
DK/NA 2% 1% 2%

(Note: Just noticed that the Spring 03 numbers make no sense. I presume the Poor rating is supposed to be much lower.)

3. How would you rate the job President Bush is doing in handling the economy –excellent, good, only fair or poor?

Spring '04 Spring '03
Excellent 18% 13%
Good 31% 37%
Only fair 25% 24%
Poor 25% 23%
DK/NA 1% 3%

4. How would you rate the job President Bush is doing in handling the war in Iraq?

Spring '04 Fall '03 Spring '03
Excellent 21% 24% 50%
Good 29% 27% 28%
Fair 19% 19% 13%
Poor 29% 27% 8%
DK/NA 2% 3% 1%

(Note: the Chron story says that Bush's "overall approval rating of 59 percent is a slight uptick from March, when 55 percent said he was doing an 'excellent' or 'good' job", but this looks to me like it was 58% last time the question was asked, not 55%. Either one is more likely to be margin of error variation than real movement, but I'm still curious if this was a math boo-boo on the Chron's part or if they're looking at different numbers.)

What this suggests to me is that maybe President Bush won't have such great coattails for the Republicans who are trying to knock off incumbent Democratic Congressmen. I've long believed that a successful strategy for the Democratic incumbents will be to express a certain amount of admiration for and agreement with the President while stressing their independence and willingness to oppose him when he's clearly wrong. With his ratings essentially in negative territory on these issues, that gives a lot of room for such positioning. From what I can tell, it's what they've all been doing. We'll see how it goes.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 19, 2004 to The making of the President | TrackBack