This week's Newsweek poll looks awfully bleak for the GOP: 53 percent of likely voters said they want a Democratic House and/or Senate, and 54 percent said they'll pick a Democratic candidate on Tuesday. Meanwhile President Bush records a dismal 35 percent approval rating.
The results strongly suggest that the Bush administration's spookathon, raising the specter of terrorism every chance it can, has lost the impact that it once had. Bush's rating -- which rose to 37 percent last week after falling to 33 percent at the beginning of October -- seems to have lost any upward momentum. Relatedly: According the poll, 32 percent of the respondents said the war in Iraq was the most important factor influencing their vote; only 12 percent said it was terrorism.
Is this really much of a surprise? Concern over the handling of the war has been the obvious constant in this election period, and will create the mandate for the new Congress. Political Wire finds interesting further proof, linking to a provocative chart by Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin political science professor, who found that support for Democrats had "surged up and not stopped rising since September 22. The surge began the week in which the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) appeared, followed by Bob Woodward's book, 'State of Denial.'" It stopped a Republican resurgence dead in its tracks.
Perhaps that more than anything else explains Dick Cheney's "doesn't matter" comments -- the White House sees what's coming, and all it can do now is dig in its heels and try to hold on.