Do Bush's approval numbers, or pos/neg trends, or any of the myriad of issue-specific polls that could possibly be run, actually mean anything right now?
Josh Marshall just linked (with probable great personal satisfaction on his part) to these polls done by The Pew Research Center and Newsweek and displayed their "Bush bad, m'kay" meme in that nice bold color he uses for links. Yet do they actually mean anything in the great scheme of things?
Not really. Anything that has the name Bush in a survey (unless it's asking about Brother Jeb down Florida way) will pretty much have zero effects from now until after he finishes off this (thank every known Diety in the Universe) last term of his Presidency. Bush 43 has lame-ducked himself into the Sea of Oblivion, with Democrats simply dismissing him as a bad mirage and the GOP sharks circling in anticipation of the day after Election Day, 2006, when pretty much everyone can finally stop bowing and scraping to him.
But those Pew numbers aren't completely useless. Here is the section that really caught my eye, with emphases mine:
The deep and enduring differences over Bush's presidency are once again evident in attitudes toward government's response to the disaster. Fully 85% of Democrats and 71% of independents think the president could have done more to get aid to hurricane victims flowing more quickly. Republicans, on balance, feel the president did all he could to get relief efforts going, but even among his own partisans 40% say he could have done more.Did you catch those bits? This is the telling portion of the entire article, from what I can see. Any time the leader of the party only has 6 out of 10 from his base in support on any issue, that party is going to change leadership, or at least direction, very quickly. And without that broad base of screaming fans, the relationship with independents gets even more important, but with a 71% negative (even if only on this single issue), it doesn't look like they are getting on board.
Similarly, Democrats are much more critical than Republicans of the federal government's handling of the disaster. Roughly three-quarters of Democrats (76%) rate the federal government's efforts in this area as only fair or poor. Most Republicans (63%) give the federal government positive marks for its response to the hurricane.
More than half of Democrats (56%) say they feel less confident in the government's ability to handle a major terrorist attack as a result of this crisis. A 65% majority of Republicans say the government's response to Katrina had no effect on their views on this issue.
The Bush Trust is finally in serious trouble. I just wish it wouldn't have taken a hurricane combined with massive loss of life, property, and happiness, not to mention the destruction of a good chunk of an American city, to make it happen.