A Bush bounce? Let's do the numbers

Bush is up in Gallup, but other polls aren't showing much improvement.

Published June 15, 2006 3:50PM (EDT)

For all the good news George W. Bush has had in the last few days -- the killing of Zarqawi, the election of Brian Bilbray in California, Robert Luskin's news about Karl Rove and that super-cool surprise trip to Baghdad -- you'd think that his poll numbers might be zooming into orbit.

The reality? Any bump is looking more like a blip.

In the three major polls taken since Zarqawi's death was announced, Bush's approval ratings are up one point (NBC/Wall Street Journal), up two points (Gallup) and down two points (CBS). The Wall Street Journal calls Bush's standing with the public "essentially unchanged"; while the president's approval rating ticked up one point in its latest poll, so too did his disapproval rating.

But hasn't Bush enjoyed a steady climb in the polls over the course of the last month? The fawning mainstream media coverage would suggest that the president's got his groove back, but the numbers aren't quite so adamant.

Yes, the president's approval-disapproval picture has improved steadily in the Gallup poll, going from 31 approve/65 disapprove in the first week of May to 38/56 now. But Bush's numbers have been up and then down again in the CBS poll (31/63 in early May, 35/60 in mid-May and 33/60 now), and he's treading within the margin-of-error water in the other major polls out since the beginning of June. In the Cook/RT Strategies poll, Bush has gone from 36/59 in April to 37/57 in the first few days of June. In the Associated Press/Ipsos poll, he's gone from 33/65 in April to 35/63 last week. And in the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Bush is up -- if that's the word for it -- from 36/57 in April to 37/58 this week.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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