For the Bush administration, Lubbock is still the hub of popular opinion.
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When George Bush called Lubbock oilman Robert Blake back in 1989, he was looking for a shoulder to cry on. The newly elected president was under fire from the media for taking his time in making appointments and setting national policies. “People in Lubbock think you are doing just fine,” Blake assured him. Bush took Blake’s words to heart and publicly declared, “I never get too uptight about stuff that hasn’t reached Lubbock yet.”
From that point on, the West Texas town has served as a national barometer of public sentiment. A Lubbock group, Southwest Research Associates, started a monthly poll called the Pulse of America after the president’s comments triggered a media onslaught toward the city.
According to the most recent survey, Bush is still the man of choice in Lubbock. “He rates as high as he ever did,” said Jay Harris, the editor of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “The economy is still very good in Lubbock, so we are all happy. Everyone agreed with his aggressive stand on foreign affairs.” Almost 70 percent said that they have a great deal of confidence in the way the president handles foreign policy. “His position on Iraq—comply or suffer the consequences—people approved of that type of stance,” said Mayor B. C. “Peck” McMinn. Seventy-two percent felt that Bush responded well to the crisis in the Soviet Union. While a national survey by ABC shows that 26 percent of the country thinks that Bush is doing a lousy job, only 3 percent of Lubbockites think he’s handling it all wrong.
Lubbock does disagree with Bush on abortion, however. Despite the influence of the 150 area churches, 63 percent of the residents surveyed one month last year said the decision should be left to the woman and her doctor. Otherwise, Lubbock blames most other domestic problems on Congress. “We’re a conservative community, and he’s a conservative Republican president,” said banker Alan White. “Wild-eyed liberals don’t turn us on out here.”