Well, that’s the practical effect of what this GOP pollster is saying in this memo to GOP Poohbah Ken Mehlman, urging Republicans not to distance themselves from Bush:
To: Ken Mehlman
From: Jan van Lohuizen
Date: March 3, 2006
Re: Bush — Congressional Republicans
Per our conversation, we took another look at the way voters, Republicans specifically, link President Bush and Republicans in the House and the Senate. There are several points worth making:
1. President Bush continues to have the strong loyal support of Republican voters. Despite slippage in approval ratings among all voters, the President’s job approval among Republicans continues to be very high. Most members will be elected with between 80% and 100% of their support coming from Republicans. I don’t see that Republicans driving a wedge between themselves and the President is a good election strategy.
2. My read of the current environment is that our problem will be turnout. ’06 could become an election like ’82 or ’84. In ’82 Republicans showed up at relatively normal turnout rates, while Democrats, because they were angry, showed up at abnormally high turnout rates. In ’94, Republican turnout was elevated, while Democratic turnout was depressed. We have every reason to believe ’06 could become the inverse of ’82. We don’t see signs of a depressed Republican turnout yet, but we have every reason to believe Democrats will turn out in high numbers. Anything we do to depress turnout, by not running as a unified party for instance, could very well lead to serious consequences in November.
3. The President is seen universally as the face of the Republican Party. We are now brand W. Republicans. The following chart shows the extremely close correlation between the President’s image and overall ratings of the party.
President Bush drives our image and will do so until we have real national front-runners for the ’08 nomination. Attacking the President is counter productive for all Republicans, not just the candidates launching the attacks. If he drops, we all drop.
I love this infighting among the GOP.
The Democrats are really going to have to work hard to screw up ’06 and ’08. But if anybody can do it, Democrats can.