[[P O L L S]] * As the CIA leak scandal (“Plamegate”) winds into what looks like its final phase, with possible indictments being readied against White House heavyweights Karl Rove and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby (and maybe even Dick Cheney), and with the administration struggling to “relaunch” the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers, a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows George W. Bush’s job approval rating continuing to slide. Only 39 percent of Americans support Dubya’s performance in the Oval Office--“the lowest the poll has recorded during Bush’s presidency,” down from 45 percent in late September. Fifty-eight percent of poll respondents disapprove of Bush.
Who’s responsible for this marked decline? “Swing” suburban voters. Last month, 51 percent of suburbanites said they approved of Bush. But that’s tumbled in this latest survey to just 41 percent, perhaps due to dissatisfaction with rising gas prices. The prez’s approval rating hasn’t changed considerably among urban residents (34 percent) or rural dwellers (44 percent). Meanwhile, though 84 percent of self-identifying Republicans appear to be sticking with Bush, his approval rating among independents stands only at 32 percent (down from 37 percent in September), with a measly 8 percent of Democrats giving the prez favorable marks (down from 15 percent last month.) Remarks CNN political analyst Bill Schneider: “It looks as if the last ‘Bush Democrat’ might have been former Georgia Senator Zell Miller.”
Another hopeful finding from the CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey: “[J]ob approval for Congress, which has a Republican majority, has fallen to 29%. That is its lowest level since 1994, the year Democrats lost control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years.”
ADDENDUM: Don’t expect today’s news about inflation to help Bush’s standing, either. According to the Associated Press, “Inflation at the wholesale level last month soared by the largest amount in more than 15 years, reflecting the surge in energy prices that occurred following the Gulf Coast hurricanes.”