Poll: Criticizing Bush Hurts Democrats

President Bush's popularity has slipped a bit in polls, but is still sky-high, and according to the latest GOP poll, Democratic criticism of the president's homeland security plans only harms the Democrats.

A recent poll commissioned by House Republicans indicates that 58 percent of voters were less likely to vote for Democrats and 21 percent would vote for Democrats if Party leaders made comments critical of the president's recent plan.

"The reaction of the public was, 'You know this is a serious issue, and you're using it to score partisan points and I want to know how you're going to solve the problem, and I don't like the fact that you're turning this into a partisan issue because you're talking about my personal security and safety,'" said GOP pollster Dave Winston.

Winston is paid by House Republicans to get accurate data that is both shared with the White House and used to plot election year strategy. Winston said because incumbents in both parties are largely expected to win re-election, and the president remains so popular, Republicans are poised to overcome a historical disadvantage.

"If the election were held today, we would hold the House, and that would break the trend in terms of traditionally what you see in the first off-year election for a new president," he said.

According to the Winston Group's latest polls, the president's job approval rating has slipped from a high of 82 percent in November to the current level of 68 percent.

Presidential job approval is always linked to whether the public thinks the nation is on the right or wrong track and those numbers are shifting downward also. In November, 67 percent of the nation thought the country was on the right track, whereas now 51 percent do. Another 33 percent say the United States is headed in the wrong direction.

That slide appears attributable to Democrats. For the first time since November, Bush's job approval rate among Democrats is below 50 percent at 46 percent. Just last month, Bush's approval rate with Democrats was at 59 percent.

But among independent voters, often key to any election, the president gets a 71 percent approval rating. And when it comes to winning over the crucial undecided vote, Bush has a stunning 70 percent approval rating.