WASHINGTON -- Republicans determined to win in November are up against a troublesome trend: growing opposition to President Bush.
An Associated Press-Ipsos poll conducted Aug. 7-9 found that the president's approval rating has dropped to 33 percent, matching his low in May. His handling of nearly every issue, from the Iraq war to foreign policy, contributed to the president's approval decline around the nation, even in the Republican-friendly South.
More sobering for the GOP are the number of voters who backed Bush in 2004 who are ready to vote Democratic in the fall's congressional elections: 19 percent of those surveyed. These one time Bush voters are more likely to be female, self-described moderates, low- to middle-income, and from the Northeast and Midwest.
Two years after giving the Republican president another term, more than half of these voters -- 57 percent -- disapprove of the job Bush is doing.
Democrats have to gain 15 seats in the House to seize control after a dozen years of Republican rule, and the party is optimistic about its chances amid diminishing support for Bush and the GOP-led Congress.
Republicans believe that elections will be decided in the 435 districts and the 33 Senate races based on local issues with the power of incumbency looming large. But fewer than 100 days before the Nov. 7 election, the poll suggested that the midterms are clearly turning into a national referendum on Bush.
The number of voters who say their congressional vote this fall will be in part to express opposition to the president jumped from 20 percent last month to 29 percent, driven by double-digit increases among males, minorities, moderate, and conservative Democrats, and Northeasterners.
House Republican candidates looking to oust incumbent Democrats seized on the silver lining of the poll. Only 29 percent of adults surveyed approved of the job Congress is doing.
``It's a good year to be running against an incumbent," said Republican David McSweeney, who is looking to unseat first-term Democratic Representative Melissa Bean in the Chicago suburbs.
© Copyright 2006 Associated Press