Now it is southern women, a key group who went against national trends and helped put Bush and the GOP in office. Fear only works for so long, no matter how many times you stir the pot.
President Bush's once-solid relationship with Southern women is on the rocks. "I think history will show him to be the worst president since Ulysses S. Grant," said Barbara Knight, a self-described Republican since birth and the mother of three. "He's been an embarrassment."I couldn't agree more.
"In 2004, you saw an utter collapse of the gender gap in the South," said Karen Kaufmann, a professor of government at the University of Maryland who has studied women's voting patterns. White Southern women liked Bush because "he spoke their religion and he spoke their values."
Now, anger over the Iraq war and frustration with the country's direction have taken a toll on the president's popularity and stirred dissatisfaction with the Republican-held Congress.
Republicans on the ballot this November have reason to worry. A recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that three out of five Southern women surveyed said they planned to vote for a Democrat in the midterm elections. With control of the Senate and House in the balance, such a seismic shift could have dire consequences for the GOP.