Has anyone noticed? Social Security is dragging down President Bush's numbers:
President Bush's job approval slipped into the mid 40s in national polls released this week as he lost some support among men and other groups of core supporters.
Public approval for Bush slipped from 52 percent in a CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll over the weekend to 45 percent in that same poll released Thursday. A CBS News poll released earlier in the week found Bush's approval slipping six points to 43 percent.
(Here are the latest approval numbers from pollingreport.com.)
This highlights a point I've been meaning to make. No one seems to say this in the political media, so I will: President Bush is actually not very popular. His numbers in early- to mid-2001 were pretty weak for a newly elected president (basically mid-50s to low-60s). Obviously, they shot up after Sept. 11 and then again when we invaded Iraq (see this chart) but after those effects -- which would have happened for any president -- wore off he's barely over 50%. Bush was then re-elected by the narrowest margin since Woodrow Wilson, and now his approval numbers are down to the mid-40s.
What's striking about this is that conservatives are starting to suggest a Cheney candidacy in 2008, as Jon Chait points out in the LA Times. That would be an incredibly stupid move politically. A new candidate would allow Republicans to get a fresh start and avoid responsibility for the (many) mistakes of the current administration, just as Bush disassociated himself with the unpopular Republican Congress in 2000. If Cheney ran, it would be a straight referendum on Bush, who is likely to still have mediocre approval numbers absent a foreign policy crisis.