Patterico's Pontifications

7/10/2009

Obama and Independents: Cracks beneath the surface

Filed under: General — Karl @ 8:06 am



[Posted by Karl]

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza says that 59 is the most important number in politics today:

That’s the percent of independent voters who approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing, according to Gallup polling conducted over the past month.

Obama’s numbers among independents are down slightly from Gallup polling in January (62 percent approve) but consistent with where he stood in March (59 percent) and April (60 percent).

As long as Obama’s job approval numbers stay in the 55 percent plus range among independents, the Administration is not likely to make any major course corrections.

However, Pres. Obama poll numbers are continuing to slip, particularly among independents, as state polls are beginning to show:

A Quinnipiac University poll of voters in economically troubled Ohio, released Tuesday, showed Obama’s approval rating slipping 8 points, to below 50 percent, from a poll two months earlier, with a plurality of 48 percent of independent voters disapproving of his job performance. A Public Policy Polling [PPP] survey in Virginia found Obama’s approval and disapproval numbers effectively tied, with independents disapproving of the president’s job performance, 52 percent to 38 percent.

“That is fairly consistent with all our polling around the country — Obama tends to be really well-liked personally, but he’s starting to lose a majority of the independents,” said Public Policy’s Dean Debnam. Democrats have “had long enough in some voters’ minds that they’re getting blame for nothing happening, and Republicans are scaring them around health care and tax increases.”

Fred Bauer (via Ed Morrissey) notes Obama’s slippage in a variety of polls from SurveyUSA, led by slides in independent support. Bauer also links to the roundup from PPP (a Democratic firm) stating that “[i]t’s been seven weeks now since we put out any poll- national or state level- that showed Barack Obama’s approval rating over 50% with independents.” In addition to the the national poll (with 49% of independents disapproving), the states include Virginia, New Jersey, Ohio, Wisconsin, Alabama and West Virginia. The erosion actually goes back further — independents were split on Obama in Colorado as far back as April.

Indeed, in April, PPP was already noting that Democratic Senators are lagging with independents.

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.

–Karl

27 Responses to “Obama and Independents: Cracks beneath the surface”

  1. The mid – term Dem congressional seats are toast if unemployment does not get below 9% within the next 6 months, if for no other reason than during recessions the unemployment numbers are wildly inaccurate, only reflecting those still receiving their unemployment checks. Most economists estimate that number could be close to double the official estimate, so if the current numbers are indeed hovering around 18%, than boondoggles like the taxpayer giveaways to UAW/GM and the stimulus package that went to crony contractors on the government teat will hurt them in too many ways to count at this point.

    Dmac (e6d1c2)

  2. Forgive the ignorant, are there Congressional or Senatorial elections in 2009?

    … sad, non-voter I am ….

    HeavenSent (641cde)

  3. The independents are the least informed voters but will respond like lemmings to the general tone of the country. Obama was “hope and change” so he got their votes. If all is doom and gloom next year, as I expect it to be, the Democrats may really be in trouble unless ACORN can get enough dead to vote.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  4. The independents are the least informed voters

    That’s a pretty bold statement.

    Most of the people I know tend to agree with Republicans on questions like “how much money should the state be spending” and “should we weaken the power of public employee unions” and “is competition better than state run monopolies”, but tend to agree with Democrats on questions like “should large financial institutions be more seriously regulated” and “should companies be forced to do more to consider environmental costs” (although preferably using market-based mechanisms) and “should gay marriage be legal”.

    Most of them are highly informed voters who think that both parties are wrong at least as often as they are right.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  5. Here in Cincinnati, we were visited by Biden – kicking off a ‘stimulus package’ project. There is definitely a growing number, small but growing; among those that voted for Obama – beginning to question the direction we’re heading.

    Perhaps they expected a quick fix. Perhaps they recognize the flaws in printing more money / borrowing more money / unwisely spending more money.

    Whatever the reason, his poll numbers are definitely dropping here.

    Corwin (ea9428)

  6. Forgive the ignorant, are there Congressional or Senatorial elections in 2009?
    … sad, non-voter I am ….
    Comment by HeavenSent — 7/10/2009 @ 8:47 am

    No HeavenSent, 2010 are the next elections.

    Mike K,

    I’m an independent, formally Republican voter. I would venture that the uninformed citizen (not necessarily voters) block largely includes independents, granted. However, both major parties have sizable populations that just parrot talking points and aren’t really that informed themselves. A lot of independents are far more informed and just fed up with both parties.

    Stashiu3 (3fc50f)

  7. I was fairly sure but again I am very ignorant since I tend not to pay attention in non-Presidential / non-Governor years.

    Danke.

    HeavenSent (641cde)

  8. Agreed aphrael, we shouldn’t confuse independant voters with each election’s “undecided voters”. The undecideds tend to be uninformed (especially late in a race), but that doesn’t mean independants are.

    What amazes me is how badly Obama does with the media pushing his bus as fast as they can. It took years of direct assaults from the media to kill Bush’s numbers. But Obama, with almost every outlet cheering him on, had to outspend Hillary 3:1 to beat her, had to outspend the hapless McCain 6:1 to beat him. And now, with most reporters still enthusiastically excusing his every bad move, he can’t keep his numbers up.

    If he weren’t christened God by the media, he’d be just another anonymous senator, hardly heard of outside of his home state.

    tim maguire (4a98f0)

  9. with the media pushing his bus as fast as they can

    I’m amazed that anyone even notices this.

    I get my news from the web, except for what I get from the economist, from wait wait don’t tell me, and from reading the local paper at lunch. Generally speaking I have no clue what the media is pushing at any given time.

    I suspect you’ll find that this is true for almost all politically informed people under the age of 30 and many under the age of 40.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  10. aphrael writes:

    Generally speaking I have no clue what the media is pushing at any given time.

    Which is pretty much how the media likes it. It makes their job easier.

    Also, I think you may want to mull over the possibility that the US is a very large place, and that young people in and around Silicon Valley make up a distinct minority of the population. And I don’t write that to denigrate the demographic, but to suggest that we all tend to project a bit. Here’s last year’s Pew poll on news consumption for your consideration.

    Karl (894fab)

  11. tim m – And now, with most reporters still enthusiastically excusing his every bad move…

    I’m unfamiliar with this group of people you refer to as ‘reporters’. There has been almost no ‘reporting’ in quite a while.

    The media is no longer credible, and it is due to their own behavior.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  12. MikeK, Stashiu3 – I’m an independent, formally Republican voter.

    I am as well. It’s probably debatable as to whether independent alignment is caused by disgust of the major parties or ignorance, but most honest people that I consider informed are not carrying anyone’s water.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  13. Apogee – The same ones that say the media is fair and unbiased are the same ones that say the media was a stenographer for Bush.

    JD (e1d98e)

  14. As for Obama’s status with Independents and how that will affect the 2012 Presidential elections, we can’t put too much stock in what his approval rating is with this group. The question of “Do you approve of the job President Obama is doing?” allows the respondent to judge his performance against an idealized perfect alternative who supports everything that the respondent stands for. In actuality, Obama will be running against another candidate who will take stances to alienate Independent voters, so even a relatively low 40% approval rating among Independent voters could still end up with a 50+% share of those votes, depending on the whole “lesser of two evils” argument.

    I think where we will have an accurate gauge of Obama’s support are in two areas: (1) the difference in the “strongly approve/strongly disapprove” numbers that this blog has been tracking and (2) the degree to which Republicans close the party affiliation gap between now and then.

    Of course, the ACORN get-out-the-dead-vote factor will come into play, just as Mike K. reminds us above.

    JVW (fc6da8)

  15. “…I suspect you’ll find that this is true for almost all politically informed people under the age of 30 and many under the age of 40.”
    Comment by aphrael — 7/10/2009 @ 10:08 am

    This statement is contradictory IMO in that if that is the extent of your news sources, you aren’t un-informed, but are mis-informed from not accessing more wedely comprehensive sources.
    And, like Karl stated, Silicon Valley is a very small subset of the population, and with its’ documented monetary support of political candidates and causes, demonstrates a stunted outlook.

    AD - RtR/OS! (60efa6)

  16. mis-informed from not accessing more wedely comprehensive sources.

    I read local newspapers for local news; I read an international newsmagazine; I spend probably several hours a day reading dozens of online news sources that span the range from the WSJ on one end to the CSM on the other. It’s not uncommon for me to listen to streaming feeds from CSPAN. My radio is periodically set to NPR.

    Yet somehow I’d be better informed if I paid attention to the mainstream media?

    The last time I checked – and, admittedly, it’s been a while, so maybe things have changed – local television news was c**p, national broadcast television news was for people with the attention span of three-year olds, and national cable news was aimed at getting me to pay attention by rousing an emotional reaction with as little information as possible.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  17. and with its’ documented monetary support of political candidates and causes, demonstrates a stunted outlook.

    I suspect that it is possible for people to disagree with you without having a stunted outlook or being misinformed.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  18. you may want to mull over the possibility that the US is a very large place, and that young people in and around Silicon Valley make up a distinct minority of the population. And I don’t write that to denigrate the demographic, but to suggest that we all tend to project a bit

    point taken. mea culpa.

    it’s very easy to assume that your milieu is representative. :) and since my milieu is one which has basically abandoned television (if we’re gonna watch something, it’s going to be specifically chosen and either tivod or downloaded), it’s very difficult to remember that the rest of the world has not.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  19. John Ziegler has a great theory on this

    1/3 are GOP, 1/3 are Looney Lefts and 1/3 don’t know anything, and the battle is always over the 1/3.

    which means this negative rating will hit a wall, also in part due to the media protecting him

    Hawkins (3d318d)

  20. The last time I checked – and, admittedly, it’s been a while, so maybe things have changed – local television news was c**p, national broadcast television news was for people with the attention span of three-year olds, and national cable news was aimed at getting me to pay attention by rousing an emotional reaction with as little information as possible.

    A perfect summation.

    SPQR (72771e)

  21. Comment by aphrael — 7/10/2009 @ 11:37 am

    As much as you seem to claim so, I don’t think you are representative of your community of friends.
    So, my apologies if I have offended you. Just reporting what I observe.

    AD - RtR/OS! (60efa6)

  22. Most of them are highly informed voters who think that both parties are wrong at least as often as they are right.

    Comment by aphrael

    Maybe I didn’t put that well. There are lots of informed voters who are independent but I think they are a minority of the total. It may well be a better choice of words to call them “undecided.” My suggestion would be to ask independent voters a brief quiz on civics before calling them informed. I still remember this woman who called Hugh Hewitt one day before the 2006 election to tell him that she “voted for the person” and not by party.

    He asked her permission to ask her a few questions before deciding about her status as an informed voter. He asked her who the vice-president was. She didn’t know.

    I keep thinking of the current generation of college graduates who don’t know who was on which side in WWII or which century the Civil War was fought.

    I’m sorry, aphrael, I don’t accept your premise about the educated under-30 voter.

    Now you may say the same thing about voters in both parties and you’d be right. The chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Reyes, did not know the different between Sunni and Shia and did not know which al Qeada was.

    I disagree with both parties on some issues but my ideological trend to to GOP although I was disappointed by the Congress from 2000 to 2006. What we have now is a suicide squad in charge.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  23. I have to agree with Mike’s comments regarding the under 30 – age demographic; most that I’ve met in the business world (I’m in digital advertising too, but I’m based in Chicago) are as dumb as a box of rocks when it comes to being informed about the world at large, let alone our country’s place within it.

    As for Silicon Valley, during my frequent trips there over the past decade + I’ve noticed a marked demarcation from a mostly Libertarian attitude towards a Lefty one. I might also add that since they’re located in CA and even closer to SF, they have next to no idea what goes on in the rest of the country (ditto for NYC). The Valley is wrapped up in their own insular world, and they don’t like it when their homes in Palo Alto and Redwood City are disturbed by the rustics.

    Dmac (e6d1c2)

  24. #15 — Comment by AD – RtR/OS! — 7/10/2009 @ 11:30 am

    And, like Karl stated, Silicon Valley is a very small subset of the population, and with its’ documented monetary support of political candidates and causes, demonstrates a stunted outlook.

    What a true statement!

    I have lived in half a dozen states (MT, CA, CO, MI, MS, TX [briefly]) and consistently visit family members in half a dozen others (ND, VA, MD, DL, IL, GA). I have had business dealings all over the country and in a few foreign cities. Currently, I am in the Silicon Valley; past a decade, now. I have lived from Redwood City to San Jose, and more than a few cities in between.

    In my experience in the US, I have never found a more intolerant or closed society than the Silicon Valley — almost clannish in their beliefs.

    Accurate knowledge of US History is nearly extinct — with a handful of exceptions (usually from either veterans or strangely, immigrants) — most are clueless about the Greatness of our Nation.

    Why is it that ignorance seems to thrive in intolerant and closed societies (or is it the other way around)?

    These observations are antidotal of course, but perhaps this explains Silicon Valley’s “…stunted outlook”; in my experience, an accurate reflection.

    Pons Asinorum (cba947)

  25. I have always just been floored by their self-professed adhearence to Libertarian ideals of self-reliance, individual liberty, creativity, and their stuningly contradictory support of Democrats who would, and do, deny them all that they supposedly support.
    They complain about China’s imposition of Internet controls, and then they send to Congress people like Henry Waxman (I know he’s not from Silicon Valley, but I venture to say he gets a lot of financial support there) or Barbara Boxer who would impose draconian economic controls on industry and people, all in the name of saving the environement from a fate worse than death itself (hyperbole allert) – as if anyone is going to live forever (Boomers excepted, of course).

    AD - RtR/OS! (60efa6)

  26. Obama’s popularity ratings matter not a wit right now. Unless the Dhimmirats suffer a major loss beyond the traditional 20 seat loss in the Congress they will not change course. There is little chance in this as Obama plays hardball politics with the stimulus money and the GOP is beset with Petainist Republicans. The prospects in the Senate are even worse with small prospect of any major change thanks to the bankruptcy of the Republican National Committee.

    The only poll that has a strong record is Ladbrooks.

    Thomas Jackson (8ffd46)

  27. […] into the 24/7 news cycle day in and day out without cease it’s the one we call the “independent” voter.  What happened to those folks last year?  A little too much “hope and change,” […]

    The Grand Illusion: Barack Obama’s So-Called “Coalition” (With Apologies to Styx) (694836)


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