Americans oppose UAE port deal

… and the Republicans are losing ground, according to the latest Fox News poll:

NEW YORK — Most Americans oppose allowing a Dubai company to run some U.S. ports, even as a majority understands the U.S. would continue to control port security, according to a new FOX News poll. One in four sees the United Arab Emirates as a strong ally, but most either disagree or are unsure. In addition, the poll shows Republicans have lost ground on the issue of terrorism, and by a wide margin voters now think it would be better for the country if Democrats win control of Congress in this year’s midterm election.

For only the second time of his presidency, the poll finds that President Bush’s overall job approval rating has fallen below 40 percent — today 39 percent of Americans say they approve and a 54 percent majority disapproves. Late last year the president’s approval hit a record-low of 36 percent (8-9 November 2005).

This is also one of only a handful of times that Bush’s approval has dropped below 80 percent among Republicans. Today 77 percent of Republicans approve, down from 82 percent in early February. Disapproval among Democrats went from 79 percent in early February to 84 percent today. Approval among independents is essentially unchanged at 35 percent.

“People’s opinions of the president are based largely on how they perceive things in the country are going in general rather than how he is doing in his day-to-day job,” says Opinion Dynamics Vice President Lawrence Shiman. “When you combine the fact that people are paying more attention to Iraq than any other issue with the perception of Iraq as being on the brink of a civil war, it is not surprising the president and his party are struggling in the polls.”

The port controversy, along with the situation in Iraq (fully 81 percent of Americans think it is likely Iraq will end up in a civil war), appears to be taking a toll on Republicans.

At the beginning of the year the Republican Party held a 13-percentage point advantage over Democrats on being the party trusted to do a better job protecting the country from terrorism. Today Republicans still have the edge, but it has dropped to 5 points.

Obviously, this isn’t good. And even the lopsided sampling of Democrats surveyed for this poll doesn’t take away from the fact that Republicans are growing increasingly dissatisfied with Congress — and the President.

The decrease in the number of people who feel the President is strong on protecting the country from terrorism is deeply troubling – not because it’ll hurt the President’s chances of getting re-elected (obviously – he can’t ;) ) but because how it will reflect on Republicans running for re-election this year in the House and Senate.

Regarding the UAE port deal, the administration and other Republicans in Congress who are supporting this need to explain better why they think the deal is a good one – and one that they feel won’t affect our national security one way or the other. Republicans shouldn’t change their tunes simply to garner votes on this or any other issue (of course some will, but that goes without saying) in an election year. They need to stand firm on what the believe even in the face of the firestorm that is the media, explain why they’ve taken the positions they’ve staked out, and in the end if the their constituencies vote them out of office, so be it. I’d rather my candidates stick to their guns and lose an election than to switch gears in order to win it.

Jim Geraghty at NRO’s “The Kerry Spot” has more commentary on this poll here.

(Cross-posted at California Conservative)

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