Saturday, August 19, 2006

Unpopular President, Senators

SurveyUSA managed to sneak the results of their poll on presidential approval and their poll of senator approval out without my noticing.

Last month, Kansas was the 13th most approving state, it is now the 20th, tied with Democratic stronghold Hawaii and swing-state Pennsylvania. There are only four states where the President has positive net approval, and all those states still give him better than 50%. Oklahoma, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah remain outliers in so many ways (some quite nice).

Looking under the hood, we find that net approval in Kansas has dropped from 7% to 19%, a stunning shift back towards the sort of numbers we saw three months ago, and suspected were outliers. Disapproval among Republicans hasn't risen as much as it did then, he enjoys 31% net approval rather than 20% in May, but both are well below the 40-50% it's been for the intervening two months.

Approval among Independents actually rose since last month (and fell since two months ago, and rose since three months ago). Independent opinion is spinning wildly over the last three months, but this months numbers also track well with those from May. Democrats seem to have hit a wall at 10% approval.

Conservative support for the president has reached the lowest point in SUSA's polling of Kansas: 60% approval, 22% net approval. That shift is encouraging to some extent, since it makes it possible to use the President as a wedge against even core Republicans, but shifting conservative opinion won't ultimately win Democrats seats in the legislature or the House.

We'll all have to meditate on what it means that Democrats are less approving of the President than liberals are, but again, those are fairly safe votes in the end. The battle is fought for moderate votes, and moderate approval of the President is unchanged for the third month running. At 60% disapproval, elected officials won't be playing up their friendship with the President to moderates, but it's disappointing to see that group unchanged while the electorate as a whole moves so much.

Three months ago, the President's changing approval rating was driven largely by western Kansas, as was the subsequent reversal of the trend. Beginning in April, the President's approval rating was at 54%, then dropped to 39%, returned to 60%. Last month it slid to 57%, and this month has reached the midpoint at 50%.

Wichita's brief flirtation with majority approval of the President ended, and eastern Kansas continues to disapprove at substantial percentages.

Looking at the Senators now, we find that Roberts went from last month's excellent showing as the 37th most popular senator to a disappointing 74th. Sam Brownback dropped one slot, from 67 to 68. The major change in his polling is a drop in approval by Democrats and a rise among Independents. Other groups remain unchanged.

Pat Roberts saw his net approval among Republicans drop 10 points, following an 11 point rise over the previous three months. Approval among Democrats has reached a new low for the time since the NSA spying was revealed, and approval among Independents is also at a historic low. Conservative approval dropped (to an anemic 60%) without a change in disapproval, moderates returned to net disapproval and liberal approval is remarkably high at 40%.

Expect numbers for the Governor soon, which should be very interesting to see.