At MyDD, Jonathan Singer slices out a portion of the latest Bloomberg/LA Times poll (pdf), to make an interesting observation, based on this question:
Q28. In your opinion, should whoever becomes the next Republican nominee campaign on a platform of continuing the policies of George W. Bush, or should he talk about moving the country in a new direction?Singer's comment:
REP L/M CON MEN WOM RELIG Continue Bush policies 30 15 36 31 29 41 Move in a new direction 61 79 54 59 64 48 Don't know 9 6 10 10 7 11
On this retrospective question on George W. Bush and his policies ... Republicans offer a thumbs down by better than a two-to-one margin. Even the religious right, which has gotten much of what it wanted from the Bush presidency (two new hard right conservatives on the Supreme Court for a likely net pick up of one seat for the anti-choice side; federal funds for faith-based initiatives; a curb to funding for stem cell research; a push, however unsuccessful, to ban same-sex marriage; etc.), would prefer the 2008 GOP presidential nominee not be a George W. Bush Republican -- and they remain more supportive of the President than other Republican groups polled.My thought: yes and no. It would be a mistake to read too singular a narrative into these results. Republicans who disapprove of Bush tend to do so either because they're moderates (as shown in the survey) or because they're ideologues who believe Bush hasn't been conservative enough. Undoubtedly a certain amount of this discontent has to do with voters' distress over an era of incompetence, corruption, and war. And in that regard it will be simple enough to hang the Bush presidency around the GOP's neck.
With such numbers, the Democrats' effort to make George W. Bush the 21st century's equivalent of Herbert Hoover -- an albatross for Republicans to carry for several election cycles even after he has left office -- shouldn't be so terribly difficult.
Ronald Reagan is alive and well -- at least, he was at the Conservative Political Action Conference over the weekend. In a straw poll of conference participants, 79% said they would support "a Ronald Reagan Republican" for president, while only 3% said they would support a "George W. Bush Republican." Still, 82% said they favor the president's strategy in Iraq.Singer allows that "these numbers could be as much an indication of respect for Ronald Reagan as they are a sign of disrepect for George W. Bush" - but argues that they nonetheless represent negative attitudes about the Bush presidency that could trickle down to the base. My own estimation would be that the high opinion of Ronald Reagan among conservative elites is directly tied to their discontent with Bush. It's both cause and effect: the more the Bush era fails to redeem the promise of what these elites believe conservative government should achieve, the more Reagan is held up nostalgically as a model for the way things should be. And the more Reagan is valorized, the worse Bush looks by comparison. The CPAC poll was not registering a coincidence, but an ecology of opinion.