GOP strategists who have seen the poll warn House and Senate leaders that Bushs numbers will continue to fall and there may be no way the party can avoid catastrophe as long as the President remains in office.
Ive never seen anger like this in the American populace, says political scientist George Harleigh, who served in the Nixon administration. Theres an old rule in politics that says no slide is irreversible. The Presidents declining numbers suggest he will go down in history as the exception to that rule.
Increasingly, GOP candidates for office both incumbent and challengers tell the White House and the national campaign committee they want nothing to do with Bush and will refuse to appear with him at any events.
GOP campaign consultants increasingly advise their candidates to avoid any appearance of an alliance with Bush and some are going so far as to suggest avoiding use of Republican or GOP in election ads and literature.
Focus groups show voter approval drops significantly when the Presidents name is mentioned, says a senior Republican strategist. Any embrace of the Presidents policies is a death knell.
Its not just that the American people distrust the President. Republicans no longer trust him. Members of his own party now cut and run from his policies, Harleigh says.
The Senate Finance Committee last week killed a tax bill pushed by Bush when Rep. Sen. Olympia Snowe came out against a capital gains tax break that favored the wealthy. House leaders postponed a vote on the bill after too many members of their party revolted.
You see more and more Republicans willing to challenge their party and their President, says Harleigh. Its unprecedented in modern political times.
But the crack in the Republican façade has been building.
"The fissures have been there all along," says Jack Pitney, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California. A lot more red ink, much worse poll numbers it all adds up.
Some GOP strategists cling to the hope that political fortunes can quickly reverse and the party can rebound but such optimism is rare among the doom and gloom that dominates meeting of party leaders at the National Republican Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee.
Were in trouble. Theres no doubt about that, says on GOP pollster. Based on what Im seeing in the national mood the only way out of that trouble is to get as far away as possible from President Bush and his policies.
© Copyright 2005 Capitol Hill Blue
By DOUG THOMPSON Publisher, Capitol Hill Blue