WASHINGTON — The arrest of terror suspects in London has helped buoy President Bush to his highest approval rating in six months and dampen Democratic congressional prospects to their lowest in a year.
In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday, support for an unnamed Democratic congressional candidate over a Republican one narrowed to 2 percentage points, 47%-45%, among registered voters. Over the past year, Democrats have led by wider margins that ranged up to 16 points.
"The arrests reminded people that terrorists were out there, and this is his strong suit," says political scientist Gary Jacobson of the University of California, San Diego. Now, as in 2002 and 2004, Bush and GOP congressional candidates argue that they can be better trusted to combat terrorism.
This was a weekend poll, and those usually oversample Democrats. I haven't crawled into the internals (and I don't intend to), but what's interesting is the consistency of the public's response. It doesn't seem to matter either how badly the war in Iraq goes or is portrayed as going; it doesn't matter how many times and in how many ways Democrats claim to have a better idea, a better approach, and more resolve in the war on terror; and it doesn't matter how far distant from 9-11 this nation gets without another home soil attack (though it's only been five years). Every time terrorism's threat is highlighted, even overseas, Republicans improve their standing in the eyes of the public.
The issue is that the public doesn't trust Democrats generically on terrorism, and whatever the failings of the Bush Administration that hasn't changed. That lack of trust on national security isn't likely improve if they continue to laud disclosures that hamper the effort (NSA) and to push for constitutional rights for terrorists, and their most vocal solution for the war in Iraq is to abandon it.
Thanks for the link!
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