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The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll doesn’t seem to be good news for Mr. Bush:

“If George W. Bush runs for reelection in 2004, would you say you will definitely vote for him, might vote for or against him, or will you definitely vote against him?”

Definitely For Bush 36

Might Vote For or Against 31

Definitely Against Bush 32

No Opinion 1

Jan. 10-12, 2003. N=1,002 adults nationwide. (Results are among registered voters.)

The same poll shows his job approval down to 58% and his job disapproval up to 37%, his worst showing since before 9-11 (he was 51/39 right before the disaster). [Gallup attributes the drop to the Korean situation; Bush’s foreign-affairs rating is now 53/42.] Ipsos-Ried shows 58/38 on the job performance question. The political observers who said that his aggressive campaigning this fall would make him a more divisive figure seem to have been right. The figures through December suggested to me that Bush had leveled off after the long decline from the post-9-11 peak, but now I’m not so sure.

However, compare the Gallup re-elect figure with other results available on Polling Report, such as this one from Zogby:

“Do you think President Bush deserves to be reelected or do you think it is time for someone new?”

Deserves Reelection 51

Someone New 36

Not Sure 13

Latest: Jan. 4-6, 2003. N=1,001 likely voters nationwide. MoE ± 3.2.

That suggests to me that about a third of the electorate is set against Bush, somewhat more than a third but less than two-fifths solidly for him, with the folks in the middle somewhat leaning in his direction if pushed. What I don’t see is the sort of solid popularity that would make it dangerous to attack him. If the Democrats can direct more of their fire at him than at each other for the next twenty-two months, he could be taken.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: