"Stay calm"

By Geraldine Sealey
Published March 31, 2004 5:21PM (EST)

The headline blazing across yesterday's USA Today said: Majority Supports Bush on Terrorism. That's what millions of Americans saw on the newsstands as they dashed through airports or opened their hotel room doors to see the complimentary newspaper -- and most probably didn't bother to read the fine print. But that's what Ruy Teixeira does, thankfully, and he provides this analysis on his Donkey Rising blog of the latest Gallup poll data -- a much different story than the USA Today told in its headline.

In a piece entitled "Stay Calm and Look Closely at the Data," Teixeira writes: "According to the poll, Bush's approval rating on handling terrorism is now down to 58 percent, by far the lowest he's ever registered, and his disapproval is up to 39 percent, by far the highest he's ever registered. That's very significant and I find it hard to believe that the importance of this trend could be overlooked."

" The poll also finds the public: (1) endorsing the idea that Bush misled the public for political reasons (53-44); (2) saying that the Bush administration, based on pre-9/11 information, did not do all that could be done to prevent the 9/11 attacks (54-42); and (3) believing that the Bush administration is covering up something about its intelligence information concerning possible terrorist attacks before 9/11 (53-41)."

"In addition, the public is now split on: (1) whether to believe Richard Clarke (44 percent) or the Bush administration (46 percent) on whether the administration paid enough attention to the terrorist threat before 9/11; (2) whether Bush after 9/11 paid enough attention to the al Qaeda threat (49 percent) or did not pay enough attention because he was too concerned about Saddam Hussein (46 percent); and (3) whether the Iraq war is part of the war on terrorism (50 percent) or an entirely separate military action (48 percent). (Note that the latter question returned a healthy 57-41 majority in favor of the Iraq war being a part of the war on terrorism when it was first asked last August.)"

Teixeira concludes: "I'd say some very serious doubts have been raised here -- doubts that threaten Bush's case for re-election in the most fundamental way."

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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