The latest Newsweek poll is an absolute train wreck for the Republican Party. To start with, President Bush’s approval rating is down to 28 percent. To put it in perspective, that equals the lowest rating ever recorded for Jimmy Carter. As for the top tier presidential candidates, Giuliani does the best against Democrats, but even he trails all three of them (Clinton by 3 points, Obama by 7 points, Edwards by 6 points). McCain does worse and Romney gets absolutely crushed by the Democrats–Edwards beats Romney by a staggering 64-27 margin. Most troubling of all for the GOP is that when people are asked whether they are satisfied with the choice of candidates running for their party’s presidential nomination, only 52 percent of Republicans said yes, compared with 77 percent of Democrats who are satisfied with their choices. What this tells me is that once the dust clears from the primaries, Democrats could have a much easier time uniting the party than Republicans. Democrats are hungry, and so angry about the Bush years, that they aren’t going to use this election to make a statement by casting protest votes for a Nader-type or staying home. But for Republicans, the 2006 bloodletting was evidently not enough, and conservatives are still angry and fed up with the direction of the Republican Party, and some are threatening to either vote for a third party or not vote at all. This, clearly, is what’s fueling the Fred Thompson boomlet. However, he has to become an actual candidate before we know whether his appeal is deep and sustainable, or mainly a function of desperate conservatives projecting their desires on to a likeable figure. As the Washington Post pointed out, Thompson’s record closely resembles McCain’s.
UPDATE: Commenters have questioned the validity of this poll, citing the 7/8 point margin of error and the fact that it was heavily weighted Democratic. So, perhaps you can argue that things aren’t quite as bad quantitatively as this poll makes them seem. However, I don’t think this changes the qualitative conclusions. The general fact that Bush has low approval ratings and that Republicans are less happy with their presidential choices than Democrats has been substantiated by other polls as well.
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