A New Poll, And Primary Election Returns, Indicate This Is A Big Democratic Year
To the extent that the election is viewed as a referendum on the Iraq war, a Democratic sweep would deal a devastating blow to the President's determination to continue waging the war.
But look at the poll today. Asked if they approve of Mr. Bush's Iraq war handling, only 30% say yes. A majority of the 1,206 persons polled think going into Iraq was a mistake, they separate the War on Terror with the war in Iraq, and 62% think the war is going badly. On approval of the President's overall conduct in office, only 36% say they approve, while 57% disapprove. Only in handling terrorism in general does the President obtain a majority.
These figures are for the most part devastating enough as they are, but in my mind the most devastating question in the poll is which party those surveyed intend to vote for for Congress, Right now, the Democrats lead by 47% to 32%, and that certainly indicates a Democratic sweep.
The impression is fortified by recent primary results, which show a strong streak of anti-incumbency running.
Just yesterday, the incumbent Republican governor of Alaska, Frank Murkowski, ran third in a Republican primary, getting only 18% of the vote, and a Republican running for renomination for Congress from Wyoming could muster only 61% in the Republican primary. Putting this together with the recent defeat of pro-war Connecticut Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman in the primary in that state, and the defeat of three legislative Republicans in the Pennsylvania primary, and you have quite a picture forming.
Although Lieberman has now qualified to run as an independent, and, polls show, is picking up most of the Republican support, the Democratic primary victor, the anti-war candidate Ned Lamont, is, in the latest polls, solidifying his Democratic support and has closed Lieberman's over all gap. That Lieberman is concerned can be seen in his call this week for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumfeld's resignation.
The war in Iraq is going so badly at the moment that it's hard to see how much can change there by November, and the situation in the Middle East, specifically in Lebanon, remains very tenuous, with a resumption of war between Israel and Hezbollah by no means a negligible possibility. The U.S. military, meanwhile, is stretched so thin, that the Administration had to call 2,500 Marines from the inactive reserve back to duty this week.
Nearly anywhere we look, it seems, there is bad news for President Bush and Republican foreign policies. Iran seems to be successfully defying the United Nations, as everyone does, on its nuclear plans. The war in Afghanistan is heating up. Relations with Russia and China are none too good. In Britain, the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair, one of the few friends the President has, is under great pressure.
Under these circumstances, even Sen. John McCain is beginning to differentiate his position on the war from Mr. Bush's. That's no surprise. He knows what's happening politically.