With the midterm elections drawing near, bloggers are pouncing on the latest polls. They're also pondering the unusual occurrence of Democrats defending the president and talking about the pre-Ryder Cup media circus surrounding Tiger Woods and his wife.
Poll dancing: Polls are starting to suggest a GOP surge leading up to the midterm elections. Or not. President Bush's approval rating—44 percent according to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll and 37 percent according to a New York Times/CBS News poll—may or may not be at its highest point since January. The NYT/CBS poll also said that only 25 percent of respondents approve of Congress, and a USA Today/Gallup poll shows voters evenly divided between Democratic and Republican congressional candidates. Bloggers try to make sense of the schizophrenic statistics. Wonkette's headline pretty much said it all: "New Poll Finds Poll Results Ambiguous."
At Real Clear Politics, Jay Cost questions the reliability of Gallup's "generic ballot," which compares support for an unnamed Democratic candidate against an unnamed Republican. "Republicans might be buoyant, but personally I'm getting seasick …" he writes. "In late August, it had the Democrats up only 2% among registered voters in the generic ballot. Then the Dems sprang ahead to a 12% lead in the course of about 15 days. And then, another 15 days later, the 'likely voters' are driving another tie." Cost warns against reading much into the generic ballot from either political perspective: "I think the generic ballot is so awash with analytical problems that any kind of direct use of it is trouble."
Indeed, in stark contrast to the 48-48 tie in the Gallup generic ballot, the Times poll had favored Democrats to Republicans 50 percent to 35 percent. "A poll is a poll is a poll," writes McJoan at Daily Kos. "And this one is full of all the contradictions you'll find when you talk to 1,131 Americans. But if I were part of the Rubber Stamp Republican Congress, I'd be feeling just a little bit nervous."
Snarky D.C. gossip maven Wonkette, discussing the general disgust exposed by the Times poll, swipes at both parties. "In the Good News department, 25% of Americans are so freakin' stupid that they actually approve of a Congress that has done nothing more than cause an overcrowding problem at 'country club prisons.' … The old Bush Bounce isn't doing so hot, either. He's at 37%, despite the endless terrorist cheerleading. This will surely be seen as a great victory for Democrats, etc., but the voters' hatred is both vague and widespread."
Defending "the devil": Democrats including Charles Rangel and Nancy Pelosi denounced Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez for calling President Bush "the devil" in a speech at the United Nations on Thursday. "You don't come into my country, you don't come into my congressional district, and you don't condemn my president," Rangel said. Pelosi called Chávez a "thug."
The reaction from righty bloggers? "(H)ere's a little applause for Rangel and Pelosi," writes John Hawkins at Right Wing News. "No ... really. It's great to see them doing the right thing. "Now," he adds, "would they have said what they said if it an election wasn't right around the corner? That's highly doubtful. But, whether it's in the run-up to an election or not, if you do a good thing, you deserve some credit for it."
At Urban Elephants—a blog that, like Rangel, comes from New York—Quick Justice thinks Rangel is just playing it safe: "At this point, past Democrat criticisms of Bush look identical in tone and substance to Chavez's, linking them to him, and making it obvious that they've become uncomfortably close to sworn enemies of this nation."
But thinking positively, GOP Bloggers sees the Pelosi/Rangel response as a sign of geopolitical bipartisanship. "After the Cold War, the world splintered into many disparate interests," writes Jonathan R. "It now appears to be coalescing around 2 poles again: a U.S.-centric group of democracies and a grouping of dictatorships (Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, etc.) united by nothing but animosity towards America. ... (I)t is nice to see that even Democrats can sometimes realize this and condemn a dictator even though he defines himself, as they do, by his hatred of President Bush."
Darren Everson is a sportswriter in New York City.