What did we really say?
: The New York Times story on its poll about Bush and his policies and popular this morning appeared under the headline, “New Poll Finds Bush Priorities Are Out of Step With Americans.”
There are differing views on the presentation of the poll data.
Armando at Daily Kos finds good news for Democrats v. Bush on domestic and foreign affairs.
But the Belgravia Dispatch sees misleading news:
So let me get this straight. There has been a leap from 41% to 53% on how many polled view the Iraq effort, the major foreign policy issue of Bush’s Presidency, positively. Might that not be the lede, at least on the foreign policy side of the story? No it’s doom and gloomy with Bush woefully out of step with his countrymen, alas.
But Matthew Yglesias has a balanced view at the Tapped; he’s a liberal but he questions the story play:
The “what liberal media?” argument is not exactly being bolstered by The New York Times’ decision to use the headline “New Poll Finds Bush Priorities Are Out of Step With Americans.” The new poll, does, however, find precisely that. It also finds that Bush has about the same approval rating — a slight net positive — as he had right before the election. Generally speaking, the most noteworthy thing about the poll is the extent of the statis in public opinion. Some of these numbers look absolutely awful for the president. Fifty-two percent of the public thinks the country is on the “wrong track” compared to just 42 who say we’re headed in the “right direction.” But in late October, that number was an even worse 55-43 split.
Bush has net negative approval ratings on the economy, on foreign policy, and on Iraq. You would think that would be fatal, but it was the same in late October. Generally speaking, the picture is the same throughout. The numbers make the president look very, very, very weak. But he looked just as weak right before the election, and obviously it didn’t work out. The upshot, I think, is that the Democratic Party’s political problems are really about the Democratic Party and not their opponents. Interestingly, the poll doesn’t find much support for the notion that a dash to the right on cultural issues is the way out. They asked “which party comes closer to sharing your view on abortion” and 45 percent said the Democrats to just 35 percent for the Republicans. They asked “which party comes closer to sharing your view on the legal recognition of gay couples,” and the Democrats got 42 percent to the GOP’s 37 percent.
Which is all by way of returning to my long-time hobbyhorse — to wit: The Democratic Party’s political trouble is explained almost entirely by the fact that the country does not trust it with national security. It may be possible to weasel into office through some other contrivance, but Democratic positioning on both culture and economics is already reasonably successful. Bush is not wildly popular. The obvious growth area is trying to convince people that Democrats can do national security properly. Subscribers can see my thoughts on this in the new print Prospect and non-subscribers should, of course, subscribe.