It is no longer a “given” that the Democrats will gain at least one house of Congress in the November elections — and the latest poll shows trend that should make Democrats nervous:

Amid falling gas prices and a two-week drive to highlight his administration’s efforts to fight terrorism, President Bush’s approval rating has risen to 44% in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. That’s his highest rating in a year.

The poll also showed likely voters evenly divided between Democratic and Republican candidates for Congress, 48%-48%. Among registered voters, Democrats had a 51%-42% advantage.

With some 6 weeks to go before the election, if this trend continues, then a few weeks from now you would not be going out on a limb to predict the Republicans hold onto Congress:

The results come seven weeks before closely contested elections for control of Congress. Republicans have struggled to overcome problems, including Bush’s low ratings, continuing violence in Iraq and the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina.

They also come as terrorism is making headlines: an alleged plot to blow up planes headed from Britain to the USA, the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and weeks of focus by Bush and other top Republicans on terrorism and whether Democrats can protect the country.

The new findings reflect “a consistent, persistent, tenacious effort to make … the Republican Party’s ability to deal with terrorism the No. 1 issue in the campaign,” said political scientist Richard Eichenberg of Tufts University, who has studied presidential job ratings during wartime. He called it “a carbon copy” of the successful 2004 playbook.

It’s the trend of polls that’s most important. So far polls have shown a show climb by Bush and the Congressional GOP. If these trends continue future polls will likely show a GOP advantage. If there’s a significant terrorist incident before the elections of another threatening tape from Osama bin Laden that could solidify it.

The bottom line: this poll shows Bush and the GOP in ascension with the Democrats losing their one-time big poll advantage.

UPDATES:
— In yesterday’s Los Angeles Times, before this poll came out,Harvard History prof Niall Ferguson had an op-ed piece titled The GOP Will Hang On that said to ignore all the pundits (and blogs) — that the GOP will end the election still in control of Congress. Read it here.
Bull Moose notes that traditional Conservatives who had been recently talking about how good it’d be for the party to lose 2006 may now be disappointed — and how a Democratic win based on anti-Bush fervor won’t solve what he sees as internal Democratic party structural problems. He then writes:

The Moose urges all politicos to curb their enthusiasm. As much that is at stake in 2006, the election does not matter that much. Regardless of the outcome in November, the American people aren’t particularly thrilled with either party.

The question of the moment is which party will reform itself to appeal to a broader swath of the electorate in 2008, and be able to both win the Presidency and govern with a strong bi-partisan majority?

–Some other polls have shown other things.

Glenn Reynolds aka InstaPundit:”It was never really a given that the Dems would take back Congress, and these polls certainly don’t make it a given that they won’t. Beware of poll fever! In the short term, however, these polls may reduce the extent of GOP defection from Bush’s legislative agenda, which may actually help the Republicans hold on to Congress.”

JOE GANDELMAN, Editor-In-Chief
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MichaelF
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MichaelF
10 years 5 days ago

Watch those falling gas prices .

jim b
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jim b
10 years 5 days ago

A new poll stating repubs are doing well, tomorrows poll, Dems are doing well. Ho hum. What matters are the big races such as Santorum and say maybe Conrad Burns. Taking over either house isn’t as important as pushing the extremes, of either party, out. If the extreme right is pushed out, that allows for the moderate conservatives to take back control of their party, and that is huge. It really doesn’t matter which party is in control, it matters what they do w/ that control.

Mr. Moderate
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Mr. Moderate
10 years 5 days ago

Wow it’s 2004 all over again. Who would have thought the Democrats fumble the ball again. Remind me why I’m totally disillusioned with American politics again?

Jimmy
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Jimmy
10 years 5 days ago

Another Bush/Rove rope-a-dope. Some people never learn.

Elrod
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Elrod
10 years 5 days ago
Gallup is notorious for bouncing all over the place. Next Gallup poll will show Bush “plunging” back to 39%. Why? Because Bush never actually rose to 44% in the first place. The big warning light is the bogus likely voter model that puts the Congressional race at 48-48 but registered voters at 51-42 Democrat. Hmm, so all those polls throughout the summer and fall showing unusual Democratic intensity get thrown out the window? I smell a rat. Fortunately, it’s Gallup, and they have a tendency to bounce around this way. If a more respected outfit like Pew showed a major… Read more »
Elrod
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Elrod
10 years 5 days ago
I read through Niall Ferguson’s article and found it mostly unpersuasive. He cherry-picks data on terrorism and Iraq, ignoring that even the bogus pro-Bush Gallup likely voter model shows a plurality separating terrorism from Iraq. And his comments about all politics being local are generally belied by the polling showing this an unusually nationalized election. The part that’s most persuasive is the bit about the economy. In fact, the reason Bush has genuinely risen about two points over the last month is because of the fall in gas prices. Professor Pollkatz’s model is pretty convincing. That Republicans have swung around… Read more »
Eural
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Eural
10 years 5 days ago

“It really doesn’t matter which party is in control, it matters what they do w/ that control.”

I couldn’t agree more – good comment and analysis!

Truflo
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Truflo
10 years 5 days ago

I hope you’re right Elrod, because the alternative is frightening. At this moment in time in America, the President of your country can declare anyone a terrorist, have him or her disappeared, tortured, tried and sentenced without anyone ever seeing the evidence. And his approval rating goes up!

Daniel DiRito
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10 years 5 days ago
This recent polling data tells me that voters have a clear perspective on the war in Iraq…perhaps more cogent than either Party. They feel it is being handled poorly, they know what a civil war looks like, they believe Congress has failed to do its part in guiding and overseeing the executive branch, and they realize that the notion of exporting democracy to the Middle East is a Bush Doctrine that fails to recognize the realities in the region. Finally, they believe that Middle East stability is important and that a withdrawal that leaves Iraq in chaos may well be… Read more »
The Angry Independent
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10 years 5 days ago
Pretty suspicious that gas prices are conveniently coming down sharply, just weeks before the elections. Normally this wouldn’t raise questions, but we have an executive branch that is in bed with the oil industry. They should call the “White House” the “Oil House”. I’m sure Bush is getting a little help from his buddies in the oil business. I understand that prices come down in the Fall after the Summer driving season…. but can that account for the total drop? The geopolitical situation has not really changed, refining capacity is still not sufficient, and Winter will be here in no… Read more »
Bandit
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Bandit
10 years 5 days ago

That’s why Bush and the GOP

Bush isn’t running

Elrod
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Elrod
10 years 5 days ago

I actually agree with Glenn Reynolds. Low poll numbers cause Republicans to run away from Bush. Higher numbers cause them to stick around. The problem is that many vulnerable Republicans have already run away from him. Are they going to turn around and embrace him suddenly? Democrats have made Bush THE issue. I think that’s smart because I think that outside core conservative Republicans, Bush is deeply unpopular. The Bush-focus may help to drive some Republican voters back into the fold. But it won’t help pry Independents away from the Democrats.

Ed
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Ed
10 years 5 days ago

I think this may be the high water mark caused by the wall-to-wall 5 year 9/11 anniversary coverage. Barring an attack (which since Al Queda seems intent on supporting Bush’s alienating policies, could happen) I believe approval rates will be back under 40 and Congressional preference back to +10 within a few weeks.

Elrod
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Elrod
10 years 5 days ago
Chris Bowers at MyDD makes an important point in response to many of these polls. Many of the likely voter models show a much stronger vote for the GOP than the registered voters (though some show the opposite.) Why? Because likely voter models look at voting in 2002 and 2004 when the GOP kicked ass in turn-out. There is simply no other way to explain how a 51-42 Dem edge in registered voters falls to 48-48 among likely voters. Likely voter models in September are notriously unreliable, which is why pollsters have to start using past voting history as the… Read more »
moptop
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moptop
10 years 5 days ago
Is this honestly the first time you liberals are grappling with the whole “Likely Voter/Registered Voter/Adult” dimension of polling data? Maybe because us conservatives have spent decades trying to pry accurate information out of a overwhelmingly hostile media, these things are second nature to us. Admittedly, the media is much less hostile recently. As a historical fact, ‘likely voters’ always skew more Republican than ‘registered’, who also skew more Republican than ‘Adults’. That is because Republicans tend to find the time on election day to actually vote. Weekend polls skew more Democratic than Weekday polls, which tend to more accurately… Read more »
TallDave
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10 years 5 days ago
the President of your country can declare anyone a terrorist, have him or her disappeared, tortured, tried and sentenced without anyone ever seeing the evidence. That kind of lunatic “Bush is more dangerous than the terrorists” talk is precisely why the GOP keeps winning. The Dems have a seldom-mentioned structural problem: unlike the GOP, seniority is everything on the left side of the aisle when it comes to committee chairmanships. That means people from the most extreme left districts have the safest seats and accrue the most power. And when Teddy Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi are the faces of power… Read more »
TallDave
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10 years 5 days ago

I’m sure Bush is getting a little help from his buddies in the oil business.

Sigh. Another “angry” person who doesn’t understand capitalism and free markets.

TallDave
Guest
10 years 5 days ago

they know what a civil war looks like

More likely they know they keep seeing the words “civil war” in the press. The usual definition involves formation of opposing governments, declarations of secession, central institutions of government not functioning, and massive armed conflict between standing armies. Iraq had real civil wars in the 1990s and 1980s that make the current conflict look idyllic.

Kim Ritter
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Kim Ritter
10 years 5 days ago

Must be getting that bump from the anti-Clinton “Path to 9/11″ docudrama!

M. Simon
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10 years 5 days ago
I really wish the Democrats had a plan for Iraq other than impeaching Bush. Currently I’d say we are stuck with no plan to get unstuck. The only fortunate bit out of this situatioin is that our enemies are stuck too. Thanks to Israel holding our flank. I voted Bush/Obama in the last election (couldn’t stand theocrat Keyes). So I’m not a strict party line guy. I’d like to see some constructive suggestions from the Dems. So far all I hear is that they want to start a circus in the middle of a war. Of course considering that the… Read more »
Jack on Track
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Jack on Track
10 years 5 days ago
None of what has been written really matters in election science. The objective on election day is two fold – turnout and winning. At this juncture the Republicans have a more efficient turnout machine compared to the “all style” Democratic machine. This is why Dean was the wrong guy for the party – he thought being crazy and having the west side of NYC cocktail set in his pocket would solve all the Dems problems. Truly focussed election engineering is all about knowing your precinct, your district, your city, your state and then mobilizing volunteers to canvass, to mail, to… Read more »
Elrod
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Elrod
10 years 5 days ago
Jack, You’ve got Howard Dean wrong. He’s completely pissed off the NYC elite Democratic crowd by trying to just what you said: build local and state party organizations in the “red states” so that turnout operations can work all over the country. It’s decidedly anti-elitist, actually. Talldave, Your definition of civil war is not really accurate. You don’t have to have full-on secession or formation of opposing governments; just large-scale armed insurrection by people who want to overthrow the government. And I’d say the Iraqi central government is not functioning. 75% of Americans think Iraq is in civil war. They’re… Read more »
Chris
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Chris
10 years 5 days ago

Unless someone can show that Americans typically vote the party line, I don’t see that W’s approval rating has all that much to do with the upcoming election, except as a broad indicator. For example, take a look at the number of red states with Democrat governors and blue states with Republican governors. I also don’t remember too many recent presidents having party support of both Houses.

Kim Ritter
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Kim Ritter
10 years 5 days ago
M Simon-Its true that the Dems don’t have a unified plan they agree on, but selected Democrats do have ideas on how to get out- Have you watched any of the debates for Senate seats on Meet the Press? Moptop wrote: “Republicans tend to find the time on Election Day to vote.” I believe that Democrats are more motivated this year, especially after a disasterous six years of Bush/Cheney. Don’t be too surprised by a higher than expected turnout. Also, there are many Republicans and Independent voters who have become disenchanted with the direction the country is going in and… Read more »
Darrell
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Darrell
10 years 5 days ago
My projection…Republicans will retain both houses of Congress with an outside chance of picking up seats in the House. The Democrats cry voter fraud, wring their hands, and declare the continuation of a vast right-wing conspiracy in America. Meanwhile, average Americans continue their steady movement toward more conservative values, setting up more Democrat losses in the future. I used to vote for Democrats. When I find some that stand for something other than … “We HATE Bush and the Republicans!”… I may vote for a Democrat again. We are at war! War is hell! Americans don’t like any war that… Read more »
Michael van der Galien
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10 years 5 days ago

Dave Price (I assume it’s you): what are you doing man? Do not hold back. Tell it them like it is…

😉

Darrell
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Darrell
10 years 5 days ago
For Americans who insist that Iraq is in a civil war and a lost cause, maybe we should defer to what most Iraqis think. Polls of Americans are meaningless. Over the past three years, the polls of Iraqis concerning the direction of their country have been mostly upbeat. The majority of Iraqis want freedom and democracy to succeed in their country. The majority of Iraqis don’t want us to cut and run. The majority of Iraqis think that they are better off now than they were when Saddam was in power. Should America continue as the primary proponent of freedom… Read more »
Rambie
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Rambie
10 years 5 days ago

moptop: As for oil prices? Did the discovery in the Gulf of Mexico which increased estimates of US reserves by 50% that happened a week ago really escape the notice of such an astute commentator…

Did it happen to escape your notice that’d it take years to get actual PRODUCTION out of this new find?

egrubs
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egrubs
10 years 5 days ago

Dear God. Angry hicks with a thesaurus who think they’re Jack Nicholson are running the country.

Isolationism sure sounds good on paper, but it is a selfish policy that robs us of our humanity and threatens the very foundation of our freedom.

The freedom to the spied on.
The freedom to be held without cause.
The freedom to be held indefinitely.
The freedom to be told what to think.
The freedom to travel in shame.
The freedom to travel without safety.
The freedom to see our jobs go to India and China.

Thank you for protecting my freedoms, good people of this fine country.

M. Simon
Guest
10 years 5 days ago
Well yes. The Dems have a plan to leave Iraq to the tender mercies of the throat slitters. It is a way to get out (was done that way for ‘Nam). It may be a solution for America. It is not a solution for the Iraqis. In ‘Nam we had about 100,000 murdered by the communists and another 500,000 took to the sea with about 1/2 dying. So I guess the Dem plan for success is a tyranny in Iraq with no more than 350,000 dead to arrive at that result. That is not what I would call a plan… Read more »
SnarkyShark
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SnarkyShark
10 years 5 days ago

Just going on the way we are would be better.

Wow, you drank every last drop of the kool-aid, didn’t you.

Don’t worry, that is exactly your Dear Leaders plan. Till he can pawn it off on someone else and then blame Clinton.

It must suck to be so infantly perdictable

Elrod
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Elrod
10 years 5 days ago
Um, Darrell, you’re using outdated talking points. No poll taken in the last year has shown Iraqi support for US troops. In fact, no poll has been taken to my knowledge because it’s too dangerous to do so. Sure, some want the US troops around because they can protect civilians from the Iraqi military and police who moonlight as death squadsmen. The level of pessimism in Iraq is identifiable in other ways, like the exodus of the entire secular middle class, the closing down of the famous book section of Baghdad, the internal refugee crisis of Sunnis and Shi’ites forcibly… Read more »
Kim Ritter
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Kim Ritter
10 years 5 days ago
MSimon- It is not the fault of the Democrats that Rumsfeld chose to invade with so few troops, allowed Bremer to disband the Iraqi army, police force and other government agencies-leading to the chaos we have now. He was warned by many ME experts and senior military officials about the complexity of Iraqi culture and religion, but chose to ignore the warnings, so that the war’s cost would not jeopardize the Bush tax cuts. His actions and those of others in the Bush administration left us and the Iraqis in a dire situation with no good options. Biden wants to… Read more »
moptop
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moptop
10 years 4 days ago
Regarding OIL, part of the price of oil reflects the judegement of the market of future scarcity. “Angry Moderate” said that nothing had happened in the oil market. He was wrong. Full stop. Of course, the release of strategic petroleum resurves had something to do with it. That was done on presidential order. But if you recall the circumstances, the BP pipeline in Alaska had problems, which was going to interrupt supply. The Summer driving and boating season has also come to an end. All of this stuff happened, and still ‘Angry Moderate’ says that it was a conspiricy by… Read more »
Mike Kelly
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Mike Kelly
10 years 4 days ago
Yeah well, I’m a conservative leaning type who doesn’t like how the President is handling things and I’m pretty sour on the way the whole immigration bill has gone. I’m not a happy camper by any standard of the term. But, Do you really think that because of all of that, I’d be willing to see Pelosi as Speaker of the House? Or Conyers get moved up? Not in this lifetime. I’m betting that is true for a lot of people like me. It’s not that we don’t think the Republicans don’t suck. We just realize that they don’t suck… Read more »
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