The Note

The president's popularity has slid six points to 56% since May (President Clinton's was 47% in July 1995), but pollster Robert Teeter agrees with Matt Dowd that he's still well positioned for re-election — provided that the numbers have bottomed out and will head back up.

The president's margin over a Democratic opponent has slid from 20 points to just 9 since April, though against specific candidates — Dean, Kerry and Lieberman — he leads by 15 percentage points. Democrats lead the president on issues including the economy, education and health care — and break even on tax policy, even after those refund checks have been cut.

Anyone out there contemplating jumping into the contest reading this?

That poll PDF makes for interesting reading.

The Wall Street Journal 's Al Hunt calls George W. Bush more like Reagan or Clinton than his father in his ability to polarize voters. Those who love Bush really love him, and those who hate him really hate him.

"This polarization certainly predates the Bush presidency; American politics has been dominated by debates, often petty, over impeachment, recalls, filibusters, and incessant charges and counter charges of scandals, real or perceived," Hunt writes.

So if Howard Dean is the anti-Bush, what's the hope for a centrist in a race that Bill Carrick says "'will be more about mobilization than persuasion'"?

And we don't mean the convenience store on the ground floor of the building. The Washington Post 's Judy Sarasohn mentions the new lobby shops of Joe Allbaugh, who just opened his, and Jeff Forbes, who's joining a new one this fall. LINK The Note is not a Devenish clip service. But look at this headline: "In One Florida Town, Parents Getting Refund Checks Fulfill Bush's Hopes." LINK

Politics: First Ken Mehlman and Terry Nelson celebrated blogging; now, even more improbably, Tom Daschle plans to start blogging himself (a preview of the book, perhaps?). LINK When Governor Vilsack starts to blog, well, then the world as we know it will have changed forever and completely.

The AP's David Espo writes about how the GOP is targeting the Nevada and South Dakota senate races in an effort to unseat the Democratic leader and whip. LINK The AP previews the American Constitution Society's kickoff conference. LINK

Columnist Norah Vincent writes in the Los Angeles Times about Evan Bayh, the DLC, Ann Coulter, and America's love affair with the extreme. LINK

The economy:

"It might not rival the sold-out concert tours of the Three Tenors, but the "jobs and growth" bus tour of the three Cabinet secretaries certainly had its moments," writes the AP's Martin Crutsinger. LINK

Judicial confirmation battles:

The AP's Jesse Holland reports, "The next U.S. Appeals Court nominee up for a filibuster is Alabama Attorney General William Pryor. Senate Democrats expect to block President Bush's choice for the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta." LINK Senate Republicans fell short of quashing Democrats' filibuster of Appeals Court nominee Miguel Estrada yesterday, and more fireworks flew from the Michigan Senate delegation over four Bush nominees, the Washington Post 's Helen Dewar reports. LINK And Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) decided to pick a fight over the tax returns of a tax court nominee. LINK

Media: "The cable war between CNN and Fox News Channel opened a new front this week when Fox's Brit Hume took aim at the rival network for allegedly promoting" Senator Lieberman's "presidential campaign," Roll Call 's Ed Henry reports.

Who will the New York Times name Washington bureau chief by the day of the Iowa caucuses?

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