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Hume Doubts Bush's Puny Poll Numbers

Reported by Judy - March 1, 2006

As George Bush's job approval ratings chart a path like a ski slope, Fox News continues to support their guy, insinuating that there's something wrong with polls that show Bush's numbers in the high 30s.

On "Special Report with Brit Hume" on Tuesday (February 28, 2006), Hume cast doubt on a recent CBS News Poll showing 34 percent of those polled approve of Bush's performance while 59 percent disapprove. In the January poll, 42 percent approved and 50 percent disapproved.

Hume complained that the CBS poll was far off from other surveys, especially Rasmusen Reports' three-day rolling average. It showed 43 percent approved and 55 percent disapproved of Bush's job.

Hume claimed the discrepancy was due to oversampling of Democrats by CBS -- 37 perent of those polled were Democrats and 28 percent were Republicans.

Nevertheless, the trend is in the same direction -- Rasmussen Reports' poll as of February 19 showed Bush's approval rating at 49 percent and his disapproval at 50 percent. In other words, Rasmussen detected a drop of 6 percentage points in just nine days. And that's not all that different from the eight percentage point decline CBS found in a month between its two polls.

Furthermore, both polls had margins of error of 3 percentage points, either way. That means CBS's poll could have been as high as 37 percent approval for Bush and Rasmussen's could have been as low as 40 percent.

Later in the show, Hume asked his All Star panel about the numbers, this time using the average of five polls as reported by realclearpolitics.com, which put Bush at 40.4 percent approval and 54.8 percent disapproval. Hume asked whether the numbers represent "a temporary valley" or something else.

Mort Kondracke, from Roll Call magazine, admitted the numbers would stay low for awhile because Bush is in India and cannot fight back, as he did last fall when Democratic Rep. John Murtha challenged him on Iraq. Charles Krauthammer, syndicated columnist, pooh-poohed the CBS poll, especially the numbers on Dick Cheney. "He just shot a guy and he's still at 18 percent. His numbers will recover," Krauthammer said. He termed the Bush numbers "obviously a valley" and predicted Bush "is not going to keep heading all the way down."

Boston Globe columnist Nina Easton refused to read the numbers as a good sign for Democrats. She suggested it will not necessarily lead to Democratic take-over of Congress in the fall because only 34 seats are up for grabs, compared to 100 in 1994 when Republicans took over Congress during Bill Clinton's first term.

Only on Fox News will commentators think an 18 percent approval rating for the vice president is a good sign. And as for Kondracke wanting Bush to fight back, that may not be such a good thing. Remember how support for Bush's social security privatization plan plummeted each month he spent out campaigning for it?

Fox News probably will have its own poll in a few days. Can't wait to see how Hume spins the numbers from his own network.

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