Patterico's Pontifications


Pres. Obama’s Poll Position and 2010

Filed under: General — Karl @ 8:01 am

[Posted by Karl]

The Politico, like CQ and other media outlets, is noticing the erosion in Pres. Obama’s poll numbers:

Eroding confidence in President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy and ability to control spending has caused his approval ratings to wilt to their lowest levels since he took office, according to a spate of recent polls, a sign of political weakness that comes just as he most needs leverage on Capitol Hill.


Surveys released last week by Pew, NBC News/Wall Street Journal and The New York Times/CBS News show a similar pattern. The Pew survey, for example, registered an 8-percentage-point drop in public approval for Obama’s handling of the economy — falling from 60 percent to 52 percent between mid-April and June. The percentage of Americans who disapprove jumped by 7 percentage points during the same period.

Though Democrats are still generally more supportive of the administration overall, the slide in the president’s economic numbers defied partisan boundaries. The Pew survey, for instance, showed support for Obama’s handling of the economy sliding 6 percentage points among Democrats and independents.

The same trend appears in the latest ABCNews poll, which shows “a retrenchment in the expectation that his stimulus plan will improve the economy — and, consequently, a halt in what had been steadily improving views of the nation’s direction.” ABCNews polled adults. The latest Rasmussen poll finds that 39% of likely voters say our economic problems are caused more by Obama’s policies than those of fmr. Pres. Bush, a 12-point jump from a month ago. Independents split almost evenly on that question.

Most of the analyses of Obama’s current poll numbers also note Pres. Obama’s continued overall popularity, as does Ed Morrissey:

Conservatives shouldn’t get too excited about Obama’s numbers. He remains a likable figure, with personal polling remaining high. Ronald Reagan had high personal numbers, too, and he leveraged his popularity to win political battles many predicted he’d lose.

The bit about Reagan is a myth, part of The Narrative of the Eighties, in which the Left convinced itself that Reagan was all about charisma, instead of ideology or policy. In his first term, Reagan’s job performance and policies were often rated more highly than Reagan personally.

Ed is more on target in noting the impact that rising unemployment will have on Obama’s popularity and the Democrats’ prospects for the 2010 midetrm elections. As ABCNews notes:

Obama’s vulnerability on the economy remains — exemplified by Reagan, the last president to take office in the teeth of a recession. His approval fell from a peak of 73 percent in March 1981 to 48 percent as the economy still struggled 11 months later. And today, public ratings of current economic conditions are just a few points from their record low in 23 years of weekly tracking by ABC News.

Open Lefty blogger Chris Bowers recently noted that in early June 1981, Reagan had an approval rating similar to Obama’s current approval. Bowers then plotted Reagan’s disapproval ratings against the unemployment statistics in 1981-82, complete with charts and graphs (Jay Cost has a graph for the entire Reagan presidency that underscores the point). Given how closely those numbers track, Bowers concluded:

Ideally for Democrats, unemployment would start to decline by February of 2010, which would provide enough time before the elections to recoup whatever losses they would suffer between now and peak unemployment. However, few economists seem to be predicting such an early unemployment peak, so that is a longshot.

Since Bowers wrote that, the Congressional Budget Office has projected that the unemployment rate will continue to rise into the second half of next year. Unemployment is not the whole ball game electorally; some studies show personal income is the key factor. However, the US economy was on the upswing in 1982, 1992 and 1994 — and in each case, the party of the president was punished at the polls, as the public did not see conditions improving fast enough. Unemployment may be a lagging indicator, but forecasts pushing the peak further into the future are suggesting any recovery next year will be less than robust.

In short, based on the current projections, it is small wonder some in the Obama White House are sad they don’t have George W. Bush to kick around anymore.


22 Responses to “Pres. Obama’s Poll Position and 2010”

  1. Obama will be his own end. A massive deficit that the vast majority of Americans oppose, an economy that has essentially been hobbled by government and as such will likely not recover before 2010 (and possibly 2012), and a weak foreign policy approach.

    But that will not stop Obama supporters in the short term.

    Check out this gem, the White House now claims that Obama’s Cairo speech prompted the protests in Iran!

    Now how will Andrew Sullivan, self appointed White House apologist in chief, justify Obama’s silence on Iran, when the White House is now claiming they inspired the whole dissent process in Iran?

    Somehow love will find a way.

    Andrew Sullivan is to Barack Obama as Kathryn Jean Lopez is to Mitt Romney. The only difference is K-Lo is less fauning and less of a 12 year old girl with a crush.

    Joe (17aeff)

  2. Ear Leader gets his health care “reform” and/or cap & trade, and the economy will NOT recover…..

    of course, that could be his plan to begin with.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  3. I’ve been thinking 80 seats for a few weeks now.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  4. This is also due to an incredible narcissist who cannot keep himself away from the cameras even for an instant – as a result, even some of his more erstwhile supporters are becoming mighty sick of seeing him every freaking night on their TV’s. It should be hilarious to see their reactions after the ABC Healthcare Suckfest ’09.

    Dmac (f7884d)

  5. Oh look Obama is now reversing course. Good for him.
    A little late, but better than never.

    Joe (17aeff)

  6. Well hush my mouth; Obama really is the Anti-Reagan!

    Who Knew!

    What do you know about that…

    And moreover, in a reversal of the tired 80’s meme, O!bama is merely acting the part of POTUS, having practiced his thoutful looks, 100 yard stare with chin raised, and punctuating hand gestures in mirrors during his spare time; like any good actor would…

    And, I think if anyone was wondering, that difference has been underscored this week by his timid response during the Iranian election protests…

    Great as usual Karl

    Bob (99fc1b)

  7. The Gipper understood economics,and went about to reverse the recession. Obama chooses to advance his political agenda, and hopes somehow that the economy can recover dispite of Obamanomics.

    Obama’s pet priorities, income redistribution, pseudo antropengic global warming, the so-called healthcare crisis and ammensty will all worsen an already shrinking economy.

    Obama is violating the law of holes: The first thing to do is to stop digging.

    DavidL (02e14f)

  8. @ #6… Bob, that would mean that both Obama and Reagan were (gasp) Actors!

    The difference would be that Reagan was a BETTER actor. Heh!

    GM Roper (85dcd7)

  9. […] Also, Karl over at Patterico on Obama’s Poll Numbers and 2010. […]

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  10. So the White House is claiming credit for the uprising in Iran, based on their reading of a speech in Cairo, but must be careful to be seen as remaining neutral once the uprising starts, lest they be seen as meddling in domestic Iranian politics?

    JD (725e5a)

  11. Nice piece Karl. Have you seen any new approval numbers on the Federal Government as a whole? Given how fast the Stimulus package went thru (without it being read), and how little has been put in to the economy (I believe under 6% so far), it’s little wonder The President’s approval rating is falling.
    I just hope the same is true (and even more telling) on the entire Federal Government – both parties.

    Corwin (ea9428)

  12. GM Roper,

    Ya got me! Chose my words poorly. What I meant was Reagan was accused of acting and wasn’t; Obama, we’re told, is so studios, brilliant, and genuine-HE ISN’T!

    Obama’s the one doin’ the acting!

    But you did catch me committing hasty commentary; how ’bout a slap on the wrist for a first offender?

    Be Cool!

    Bob (99fc1b)

  13. The 800 pound gorilla is the fact that the bear market rally has ended. The stock market is going down and we are seeing the usual silly daily theories of why. The reason is that the bear market is just getting started and Obama has done nothing but make it worse. It is time to hunker down as things will get worse before they get better. Obama will own this economy in another month as it becomes obvious that there is no recovery. Already 90% of the public is worried about the deficits.

    Next year may be a blood bath for Democrats if Republicans can come up with some decent candidates. I expect the usual trolls will find this thread soon and all will be sweetness and light for Zero but it is not reality.

    What I fear most is the interest rate spike that may be coming.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  14. Corwin,

    Havn’t seen numbers for the feds as a whole, but the numbers for Congress, the GOP, etc. are all pretty bad.

    Mike K,

    Just read a piece on the amount of insiders who have been selling into the rally. Not a good sign.

    Karl (f07e38)

  15. The president’s likeability index and personal popularity will probably never show as low as his sinking poll ratings which measure his actual results and policies. That is because many people will never ever feel comfortable publicly criticizing the first black POTUS for fear of being accused of prejudice. Media types say his personal numbers are indicative that he’s still wildly popular even as the deficit grows and the country tanks. But it is even more likely that the discrepancy is a result of the phenomenon known as social desirability bias– which is also what contributes to the Bradley effect.

    elizabeth (161e96)

  16. All I know is that people of Obama’s ilk — from liberal to ultra-liberal — have dominated the state of California’s government for over 15 years, the squishy ideological nature of its governor notwithstanding. Placed there and kept there by a large number of voters who have rejoiced in mindless “progressive” politics for quite awhile now, and who certainly pushed Schwarzenegger to the left a few years ago, by happily trouncing his long-overdue reform measures at the election booth.

    Of course, in spite of this, we all know there has been an abundance of common sense and self-control in Sacramento since the 1990s, which makes the current predicament of the “Golden” state so surprising, so baffling, so unfanthomable.

    Mark (411533)

  17. =yawn= Ensign/Sanford 2012. The perfect family values GOP ticket… for Toontown.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  18. #17. yawn. You know, you cant build up the Democrats by tearing down good Republicans like the excellent Gov Sanford.

    Travis Monitor (9e3371)

  19. […] Pres. Obama is more popular than his policies, and Obama’s personal popularity will likely decline as unemployment continues to rise through […]

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  20. […] Pres. Obama is more popular than his policies, and Obama’s personal popularity will likely decline as unemployment continues to rise through […]

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  21. […] As NRO’s Jim Geraghty tweets, “[t]he Quinnipiac poll went a long way toward changing DC’s conventional wisdom this week. Old: Obama still popular. New: Is He In Trouble?” Those looking at a Gallup poll of adults may not be asking that question… yet. But people looking at polls of likely voters in bellwether states, and states with hot elections in 2010, are asking. And probably wondering what those numbers will look like if — as widely predicted — unemployment continues to rise well into next year. […]

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  22. […] it mildly, that is some pretty weak beer. Pres. Obama’s poll numbers are most likely tied to unemployment and personal income statistics. Current economic forecasts call not only for rising unemployment, but also wage deflation. The […]

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