A new Newsweek poll released on May 5 has found that President Bush now registers the lowest public approval rating since Jimmy Carter. Bush is viewed favorably by only 28% of those surveyed. Sixty four percent of those who were asked disapprove of how the president is doing his job. This matches the low point for Jimmy Carter in late June/early July of 1979. Bush is now within shouting distance of the two lowest approval ratings of all time, Richard Nixon’s 23% in 1974, and Harry Truman’s 22% in 1952. To put the stark depths of the current Bush numbers into perspective, Bill Clinton’s lowest approval rating was 36%. Ronald Reagan and L.B.J.’s low marks were each 35%.  Gerald Ford’s was 37%, and popular presidents Ike and FDR both had lows of 48%. The brief administration of JFK was most popular with low of 56% approval.

Even for an administration that has screwed up as much as this one has, these numbers are still staggering. They now share the depths of failure with the likes of Carter, Nixon, and Truman. For Republicans, what’s even worse is that it looks like Bush’s problems are dragging down their 2008 presidential candidates. In every single potential head to head match up between the top three candidates in each party, the Democrats prevail. The smallest margin of victory for the Democrats comes in the Clinton/Giuliani match up, but Clinton wins that one 49%-46% with 5% undecided.

When the poll asked, how satisfied they were with their choices for their party’s nomination, 77% of registered Democrats or Democratic leaners were satisfied, but only 56% of registered Republicans or GOP leaners felt the same way about their choices. Among dissatisfied Republicans only 32% want Newt Gingrich to run, and 46% want Fred Thompson to run.  When the same question was posed to dissatisfied Democrats, 60% wanted Al Gore to run. In the poll, most registered voters leaned towards the Democrats, 52%-37%. Also only 22% of registered voters considered themselves Republicans. 36% called themselves Democrats and 37% Independents.

Unless George W. Bush does something to help his own popularity, such as bring an end to the war in Iraq, I don’t see how Republicans are going to be able to win in 2008. To put it bluntly, Republicans voters aren’t all that enthused about their choices for 2008, and the party is saddled with a president who has become an anchor around their collective necks. It doesn’t look like much help is on the way, as Republican voters aren’t all that excited about the other candidates who are waiting in the wings and might join their primaries either. I will continue to caution that we are still a very long time away from the general election, but I can see the beginnings of a perfect storm brewing up against Republicans in 2008. The question is, even if they see it coming, will they be able to convince President Bush to do what he needs to do to stop it before it’s too late?

Link to the full Newsweek poll  

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse

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