Rising International Problems May Be Altering 2006 Election Landscape Again
With the North Korean missile tests and now the open warfare in the MidEast, the public approval rating of Bush seems to be rebounding and benefitting. According to the very authorative and methodology sound, Rasmussen Reports polling, Bush hit a recent low of 38% back on July 7, and has now rebounded to 44% approval in today's poll. The climb back has been steady with many of his former supporters coming back. Other polls will likely state the same as they are released soon.
Being the outside party, Democrats are at a clear disadvantage to take benefit from national security or foreign policy issues at this point. Only if things go badly for the U.S. are such events likely to hurt a sitting president. But historically a sitting president tends to benefit from national security concerns with voters.
Democrats will likely be hurt in the November 2006 elections if turbulent international events moltivate a fear factor in voters, and drive them towards the President. Republican candidates will likely benefit from a moltivated pool of voters, as well as questions about some Democratic candidates viable, workable and realistic foreign policy goals. Even in Israel much of the both the left and right find themselves currently united in a common goal of wanting to see Hamas and Hezbollah threats end, which makes a quick and easy diplomacy goal look far off at this point. Democrats will always a pool of left leaning voters, but may suffer real support shortfalls in November if moderates and independents swing back towards the Republicans. As many moderate and independent voters tended to shy away from Democrats in recent years.
The largest alternative paper in Portland, Oregon, The Willamette Week, noted that as Republican and Independent voter rolls have greatly improved over the last 20 years, Democrats have seen little increase, leaving Oregon barely a "blue" state. Only the independent voters swinging towards Democrats in state races has kept Democrats from electoral failure in recent years. But these independent voters tend to support right leaning ballot measures, so they are hardly a reliable force if Democrats lean too far left on issues.
When massive public opposition to the Iraq War has built, then Democrats were able to take advantage in pre2006 election polls. But now with a rising tide of international problems, Democrats could appear too "dovish" to many moderate or independent voters and simply not strong enough in the face of real or perceived international threats. This could leave Democrats once again stuck in the political wilderness of wandering more years as the outside party in American politics.
News from Iraq has quickly been replaced as the top international news when serious war news from the MidEast or renewed threats from North Korea replace the Iraq headlines of gloom and doom. These new threats have managed to change the discussion from Iraq, as well as likely make many moderate or independent voters run towards Bush, and likely the Republicans as well.
It is still early as the November 2006 elections are still some time off. Higher gasoline prices will tend to hurt the Bush White House, while rising tide of international events based fear level only benefits. But politics is real unpredictable. Unless the Iraq War and domestic issues can again dominate the political debate, then Democrats should only expect more disappointment in the November elections.