Whatever the merits of the upcoming State of the Union Address by President Bush, one thing is already certain. He’ll be making his case to an angry electorate.
In the aftermath of regime-changing elections like the one in November, where one party is punished and another is catapulted into power, experts say that the public ire is usually spent. Having made their voices heard, citizens are usually in a more forgiving mood by the time the new officials are sworn in.
However, given the results of a new CNN Opinion poll, President Bush may be entering uncharted territory-voters are still angry, and they’re angry at him.
Not only are his approval ratings in the low 30s, but fully two-thirds of respondents said that Bush has done something to make them angry. That is the highest number of people to say so since the inception of the poll. And people didn’t just feel as if Bush made them angry, fifty-five percent of respondents called his presidency a “failure.”
In some respects, such low expectations for the President on the eve of his State of the Union might be a good thing. After all, some say, he can only go up from here. And experts believe the President will get a small bump in approval from addressing the public in such a setting, regardless of what he says.
But the news is not as encouraging for the Bush Administration when it comes to the War in Iraq. Even after making his case to the American people, more than two-thirds of Americans oppose his plan to send more troops to Iraq, and some now even oppose the war in Afghanistan-a shocking majority which is indicative of no confidence in our military and civilian leadership.
This indication is bolstered by a further finding of the study that concluded more than fifty percent of Americans trusted his predecessor, Bill Clinton, a president who was impeached, more than they trust George W. Bush.
Similar approval/disapproval results were found in a separate ABC News/Washington Post poll and a CBS poll.
But in addition, the ABC poll showed that Bush will address a Congress led by figures that have attained more of the public confidence than he currently holds.
While some theorized Nancy Pelosi’s rise to power would displease Americans and give Republicans an easy target to campaign against, fifty-four percent of Americans approve of the job she has done so far. This can be compared to Newt Gingrich’s January high mark of forty percent during the Republican Revolution of 1995 to give some perspective on how well the Madam Speaker has been received by the public.
Yet, President Bush says that he doesn’t govern by polls, so perhaps figures like these will have no impact upon his performance during the State of the Union.