1 November 2003

It's the Leadership Stupid

'Bush's leadership in the White House has thus become a national Rorschach test. Depending on our perspective, we are drawn to or repelled by him. Rarely in modern American history has any president become as polarizing. Scholar George C. Edwards III pointed out a decade ago that approval ratings for recent presidents tend to run about 35 percentage points higher among members of their own party than among people identifying with the out party. For Bush Sr., for example, the average gap between Republicans and Democrats was 37 percentage points. Reagan and Clinton, more divisive leaders, often drove the gap to 50 percentage points or more. But George W. Bush's gap is off the charts: his approval rating among Republicans hovers in the high 80s; he's down in the 20s among Democrats - a chasm of more than 60 percentage points. Increasingly, people like him or they don't; the not-certains are disappearing.'

Really interesting numbers. I guess if you start with a base gap of 35% between parties, you'd have the Clinton/Reagan gap 15 points above that and the Bush dissensus a whopping 4 times that of Reagan and Clinton. It's a good thing, he's a uniter, not a divider. If he was trying to divide the US who knows how far off the scale he would run?

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