White House Hits New Nadir: 29% Approval

Far be it from me to understand politics — that’s why we stick to our knitting and focus on markets — but I gotta wonder what this datapoint means (via the WSJ’s Washington Wire):

"President Bush’s job-approval rating has fallen to its lowest mark of his presidency, according to a new Harris Interactive poll. Of 1,003 U.S. adults surveyed in a telephone poll, 29% think Mr. Bush is doing an “excellent or pretty good” job as president, down from 35% in April and significantly lower than 43% in January. Approval ratings for Congress overall also sank, and now stand at 18%.

Roughly one-quarter of U.S. adults say “things in the country are going in the right direction,” while 69% say “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track.” This has been the trend since January, when 33% said the nation was heading in the right direction. Iraq remains a key concern for the general public, as 28% of Americans said they consider Iraq to be one of the top two most important issues the government should address, up from 23% in April. The immigration debate also prompted 16% of Americans to consider it a top issue, down from 19% last month, but still sharply higher from 4% in March.

The Harris poll comes two days after a downbeat assessement of Bush in a New York Times/CBS News poll. The Times, in analyzing the results, said “Americans have a bleaker view of the country’s direction than at any time in more than two decades.”

We know that historically, there is very little correlation between Presidential approval ratings and longer term market performance.

I’m watching this data purely from a market psychology and consumer sentiment perspective . . .

UPDATE: May 12, 2006 10:19 am

Here’s a recent table from the NYT; Congress is looking pretty ugly also . . .

click for larger graphic   



Bush Dips Into the 20s
WSJ’s Washington Wire
May 11, 2006, 9:12 pm

Poll Gives Bush His Worst Marks Yet
NYT, May 10, 2006

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  1. Idaho_Spud commented on May 12

    Here’s probably the only info the federal gov’t doesn’t already have on me… I read PCGamer when I take a crap :)

    Any wonder they are unpopular right now?

  2. jim commented on May 12

    What we need is a recall provision so we could throw the bum out. November, hopefully will get rid of some of Congress.

  3. blofeld commented on May 12

    I feel like this is why democracy works. When one party overwhelmingly owns the executive and legislative branches it becomes easier to identify who is at fault. It also creates a lack of ‘opposition’ for a particular party when there really is no other party. Hence they turn their aggressions toward factions within the party. Both things are happening now. The populace dislikes both Bush and the Republican Congress and internally Republicans are breaking with Republicans. It’s time for the pendulum to swing back now.

  4. me commented on May 12

    Spud, now is that your real last name?

  5. RW commented on May 12

    Agreed blofeld, but never forget the power of local or regional bias: The ability to say, with no apparent internal contradication, that congress (schools, etc.) are bad but my local congress person (school, etc.) is okay.

    A similar bias allows people to say, again with no apparent internal contradication, that things would be better if (whatever policy they believe in) had been implemented properly so no need to question belief, just find someone who can make that policy (belief) work.

    There will be a change no doubt but it may not be as large as polls would suggest. I hope I’m wrong about that though; the country seems in an increasingly sour mood, even the cheerleaders are showing frown lines.

  6. royce commented on May 12

    This is like a Kudlow thing: “Why don’t people understand this great economy we have?”

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me it’s wages. Things are costing more, and I know my pay isn’t going to go up enough to match this year. Meanwhile, I’m watching CEOs and the well-heeled do better and better. That makes me grumpy, and when someone asks me if things are on the right track, why wouldn’t I say “wrong track, baby.”

  7. me commented on May 12

    “why wouldn’t I say “wrong track, baby.””

    Indeed, my medical premiums and co-pays are out of this world. Why, The CEO of United Health Group a Billion Six hundres million in options and the next in line almost 800 million.

    That is more than the GDP of some small countires.

    Since the NSA has monitored this e-mail, I agree royce, wrong track baby.

  8. wcw commented on May 12

    Back on-topic of market psychology and sentiment, presidential approval numbers indeed tend to be no less irrational than short- and medium-term market moves. While in this case I like you am a little out of my depth, my best guess has been gasoline prices, losing a war, and in the case of the executive, the broadening realization he is, after all, just another politician (the key fact for disapproval on NSA wiretapping is not malign totalism, it’s having been misled).

    We Americans hate paying up for fuel, we hate losing wars, and much as we need them to set policy we hate ‘politicans’.

    If you want to figure out polling, you need to dig through some of the details these folks release. See http://www.pollingreport.com/bush.htm For example: “is honest and trustworthy” (per Gallup, this on my 3rd point) has dropped from 70% in 2003 to 55% in 2004 to 50% in 2005 to 40% now. You can find similar results on national security/Iraq. On fuel prices, I haven’t seen direct evidence, but indirectly, the president, his VP and his party are more associated with that industry.

    How this affects the markets, I argue, is minimal. Indirectly, some of this polling may be a lagging sentiment indicator, but more important by far IMO will be things like the effects of high fuel prices on pocketbooks at the low end, and of lower housing prices on those in the middle.

  9. Monty Burns commented on May 12

    Low approval ratings? Time to go to war!

  10. Alaskan Pete commented on May 12

    What’s more interesting to me is his DISapproval rating, which in the last WaPo poll hit 64% IIRC which is a single point below what Nixon hit at his worst. That should tell you something. WORST PRESIDENT EVER. This guy has enjoyed all the advantages concomitant with being a son of priviledge. And everything he touches turns to shit.

    I used to vote Republican, but the shady bastards want to run a kleptocracy. There are few, if any, fiscal conservatives on either side of the aisle…Ron Paul being the exception that proves the rule.

    And with Dickhead Cheney’s little scam outfit KBR screwing our troops on food and water, with billions of reconstruction money mysteriously missing, HAL overcharging and underperfoming, CIA being ripped apart by partisan hacks, and a Motherf%^& clown supreme running the DOJ…….the empire is looking shaky indeed.

    We need a divided congress, one house controlled by each party. That is the only way we will get reasonably centrist policies that actually represent the 70% of the country in the middle. No more pandering to the Radical Clerics Dobson and Fallwell, or the nutjobs at PETA and ELF.

    Pete has spoken.

  11. drey commented on May 12

    agree with RW. As much as I want to see the bums thrown out, studies show that people despise congress as a whole but tend to like their own congressman – shit, the reelection rate is 98% for House of Reps. When someone else’s congressman stashes a spending item in a bill it’s pork. When your own congressman does it, they’re bringing home the bacon…

    Personally I would be in favor of a more parliamentary system where the focus of elections is more national than local, and once a party takes control of the govt there is more accountability. Ideally, a proportional representation system where smaller parties have a voice in congress and are not frozen out by SMSP rules.

    As nice as it would be to see the Republicans get clobbered in Nov. I’m not sure what to expect – a BW article pointed out last year that only 35 of the 435 congressional districts can be considered competitive because the bastards have gerrymandered themselves into safe districts.

    Hopefully voter outrage will overwhelm the politician protection program which has been put into place…

  12. me commented on May 12

    “As nice as it would be to see the Republicans get clobbered in Nov”

    polling is much worse now for repugs than it was for dems in 1994.

    I am afraid I too prefer “gridlock”.

  13. calmo commented on May 12

    It must be the liberal press that is not showing the true progress being made in Afghanistan. Nor the real advances in Iraq. (Surely we can send a few reporters beyond the Green Zone in deep sea diving bells to get this story.) There are so many bright spots in our economy and foreign policy initiatives, it makes one wonder whether the press has been taken over by the terrorists.
    In case they have, let me pile on with the same confidence as ‘me’:
    Since the NSA has monitored this e-mail, I agree royce, wrong track baby.

  14. camille roy commented on May 12

    Oh I think you guys are being much too hard on the Republicans. I have learned *so much* from one party rule, and I think we all have, and we just need to take it to heart.

    1. Expertise is for sissies and elitists. Who really cares what scientists or foreign policy gurus think about oh, global warming, or Iraqi culture and political history, or energy issues, or bird flu, or North Korea. I mean, if lots of Americans die because of policy decisions, well, that’s life. Life includes death – I accept that!

    2. The thing federal bureaucrats need is a baseball bat to the (numb) skull. I mean, public service?? That’s *so* liberal.

    3. Who needs taxes? This govt was founded on the principle of ‘No taxation’. (Some people say it was ‘No taxation without representation’, but that is an elitist view.)

    4. The govt that functions like a chicken with its head cut off is functioning properly, in my view. This is a non-elitist govt which will present fewer regulatory and other barriers to me and my friends making lots of money. That’s the American way!

    5. Our social and political culture has been transforming into a rich stew of ‘Kiss Corporate Butt’. Such degrading postures for citizens are very non-elitist, in my view. Also, humility has a strong association with Christian virtue – and that’s a God thing!

    We’re on the Right track, folks. Just believe!

  15. Lord commented on May 12

    No where to go but up!

  16. royce commented on May 12

    Does seem like he’d run into a floor at some point. Is that remaining 19% made of investors who are planning to take capital gains in ’07 and ’08?

  17. L’Emmerdeur commented on May 12

    Stratfor had some insight into this.

    Roughly 1/3rd of voters are Republicans, another 1/3rd are Democrats, and the rest are swing voters (and i mean roughly).

    When a president’s approval rating falls below around 33-35%, it essentially means that his own power base is abandoning him. Until then, only his opponents and the swing votes are against him. Once this threshold is breached, he can no longer govern, he only presides.

    What this means is that he will not be able to pass meaningful legislation through Congress, and above all, foreign powers will not strike significant long-term deals with him, prefering to wait it out until he is replaced in the next election.

    Essentially, Bush’s presidency is crippled. For more examples, look at Carter’s last year in power, and the last months of Nixon’s presidency.

  18. me commented on May 12

    6. Running the government like a business suddenly give new meaning to a degree in public finance or public sector economics.

  19. Detroit Dan commented on May 12

    The corruption and incompetence is unprecedented in my experience. Truly breathtaking…

  20. Max commented on May 12

    These numbers will make his re election very difficult.

  21. Sourdes Menées commented on May 12

    Certainly, we all benefit greatly from the tax cuts, but there is one fundamental reason why we must retain the Republican Congress: to preserve the value of our dollar-denominated investments it will be necessary to depose the President in the dead of night, intern him in a subarctic labor camp and airbrush him out of official photographs. That will be much more difficult if we vote to vitiate the current totalitarian political climate.

  22. Max commented on May 12

    “the current totalitarian political climate.”

    You haven’t a clue. With any luck, you never will have to learn what it is to live with a totalitarian government, you dumb, lucky bastard. I really do envy the luxury of your naivete.

  23. clunk commented on May 12

    I’m surprised and heartened by the lack of Bush defenders here. I was one of the first to bolt from the Bush camp. But then, there was that Nixon thing, I did vote for him, twice.

  24. me commented on May 12

    “These numbers will make his re election very difficult.”

    Hey Max, no problem.

    “Diebold, whose owner, Wally O’Dell, infamously guaranteed in 2003 that he would deliver Ohio’s electoral votes to Bush.”

  25. Sourdes Menées commented on May 13

    Who is this servile terror pussy Max, who is so content to cringe for the authorities? He seeks to vaunt an implausible aura of sophistication. Perhaps he has experience in totalitarian states, or helped topple one.

  26. cm commented on May 13

    Sourdes Menées: Granted, you said “totalitarian climate”, not “totalitarian regime”. This administration certainly has totalitarian aspirations (not being quite alone in this historically), but the reality on the ground is still far from the “communist” Eastern European model of society. Closer than let’s say a decade ago though.

  27. Sourdes Menées commented on May 13

    cm, good comparison, EE. having been a long while on the ground there, it seems to me the big difference from us is their learned helplessness, that apathetic response to futility that persists when futility is gone, like the lab rat that lies on the shock plate even when it’s not tied down. People here are still resisting. That’s not to say I’m sure they’ll keep it up.

    At the Federal level the constitution is not in effect. At the local level, every rentacop imagines himself a homeland security hero, antiterror authorities kibitz as library porn police, and everywhere you go you hear some variant of ‘Your Papers.’ Some freedom of expression remains, in approved venues (try it with some friends in public), and most political frustrations are dissipated with speech that is easy to ignore.

    Domestic capital flight is the one remaining check, because the oligarchs like it too. I’m waiting for imposition of capital controls, like sudden puzzling enthusiasm for a Tobin tax. Then it’s curtains.

  28. Zephyr commented on May 13

    Sourdes: The capital flight has already started. Our capital is moving to lower tax countries like Bermuda and Ireland. US investors can incorporate businesses there to sell to the US without paying much income tax. They sell their goods without the tax content in their prices and can undercut the prices of US based companies – even if they produce the goods in the same places with the same wage costs.

  29. Sourdes Menées commented on May 13

    How true. But who’s still perilously long dollars, even worse than foreign central banks? Joe Blow. Most of his net worth is stuck in his nontradable house (what little the lenders have not sucked out). And if he’s a Bush deadender he’s hopelessly home-biased because he’s brainwashed, ‘we’re the best, Europe sucks, Asia threatens, scary inimical world.’ If the mind control wears off and Joe Blow panics — which he will no doubt do, once it’s too late — that will be fun to watch. I am indeed nostalgic for the rule of law, Generalissimo Zephyr, but life can be muy bueno in our corrupt miserable pathetic banana republic.

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