Newsweek Poll Shows Bush State-of-the-Union Speech “Bump” Downwards

The latest Newsweek poll shows something you don’t usually see: a President’s poll rating go DOWN right after their State Of The Union address:

President George W. Bush concluded his annual State of the Union address this week with the words “the State of our Union is strong … our cause in the world is right … and tonight that cause goes on.� Maybe so, but the state of the Bush administration is at its worst yet, according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll. The president’s approval ratings are at their lowest point in the poll’s history—30 percent—and more than half the country (58 percent) say they wish the Bush presidency were simply over, a sentiment that is almost unanimous among Democrats (86 percent), and is shared by a clear majority (59 percent) of independents and even one in five (21 percent) Republicans. Half (49 percent) of all registered voters would rather see a Democrat elected president in 2008, compared to just 28 percent who’d prefer the GOP to remain in the White House.

Most noteworthy is that this poll is pointing something out that yours-truly is finding as he travels (in California and elsewhere): there is a HUGE amount of “Bush fatigue” setting in. Many Americans have had enough, not just with the policies but the whole style of this administration. Are people pausing to take a post-polarization breath?

And there’s also a strong message in this poll for Democrats who might be balking on saying what they want to say on the war, independent minded-GOPers, GOPers up for election in 2008 — and for all members of Congress plus those in the executive branch who feel the President is the sole “decision maker” for the United States:

Public fatigue over the war in the Iraq is not reflected solely in the president’s numbers, however. Congress is criticized by nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Americans for not being assertive enough in challenging the Bush administration’s conduct of the war. Even a third (31 percent) of rank-and-file Republicans say the previous Congress, controlled by their party, didn’t do enough to challenge the administration on the war.

The poll also gives some match-ups for election results which generally show a Democrat would win the White House (if the vote were taken today). Those polls, in particular, can be expected to see-saw up-and-down, depending on how these candidates perform, how adept they are in outlining their positions, and what negative developments await down the road for them and how they handle them.

But the polling results on the war, the Bush administration and attitudes towards Congress should be seen as part of the “structural” aspect of the American polity. And it’s dotted with red warning flags for President Bush, his administration, the Republicans, and the Democrats. Many Americans clearly want an assertive Congress to assume the role of “the decision maker” as well.