Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Congressional Approval Falls to 18%; Smart Dems Will Cave on Iraq

See the story at Hot Air, and the actual poll result here.

Allah notes that the 9 point drop in approval occurred since the month of July, and wonders what events might have prompted voters to turn more negative.

I'd guess at three things:

  1. August recess: People are aware that Congress has taken its August break, and they can see for themselves that not much has been accomplished.
  2. Gas prices: August is driving season, and people may be focused more on prices at the pump, and the failure of Congress to do anything about it.
  3. Iraq: There has been some coverage of the improvements in Iraq -- the O'Hanlon and Pollack piece and multiple news stories. Perhaps voters are starting to realize that Democrats are out-of-tune with events on the ground.

Allah suggests that the fall among Democrats is likely to encourage Democrats to go even harder after the administration when the Petraeus progress report is delivered in September:

The worse their numbers get, the more pressure Reid and Pelosi will feel to dig in on Iraq next month to get them back up. The last thing the Democrats want is to have to spend money that should be going towards defeating Republicans next year on defeating primary challengers instead.

That's certainly a possibility.

Remember however, the immigration debate. It divided Republicans badly, preventing any resolution: it was impossible to pass either a comprehensive bill or a 'security-only' bill. Republican leaders in Washington had abuse heaped on them by the base. People like George Bush, Trent Lott, John McCain, and Mel Martinez were constantly criticized. And the criticism would not end as long as the debate continued. The advice from the pros was to cut losses, end the debate, and move on to ANYTHING else.

Congressional Democrats seem likely to find themselves in the same position in September. They are clearly divided, with a small minority willing to give the President and the mission more time. They face a determined President who has all he needs to continue the surge at least until April. And he has the backing of enough Republicans to uphold any veto he is forced to issue.

So if Democrats push to force an end to the conflict, they are likely to prove ineffective, they will show their divisions, and they will expose moderate Democrats and undecided Democrats to attacks by the base. This looks like a no-win situation for them. Their best outcome politically is to ensure that the Iraq debate is over as quickly as possible, after having demonstrated that they cannot force the President to end the war. Then they can return to sniping and criticizing to their heart's content.

Update: See also Wake Up America and the Swamp.

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