Thursday, July 15, 2010

A bad week in the polls

...and it doesn't matter which poll you look at, or how biased it is.


Thirty-eight percent of independents approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president, the first time independent approval of Obama has dropped below 40% in a Gallup Daily tracking weekly aggregate. Meanwhile, Obama maintains the support of 81% of Democrats, and his job approval among Republicans remains low, at 12%.


Overall, 46% of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing as president in the June 28-July 4 aggregate, one point above his lowest weekly average. Obama's average weekly job approval rating has not been above 50% since Feb. 8-14, though it reached the 50% mark as recently as May 3-9.

Obama's lower ratings come amid a still-struggling economy, the ongoing difficulties presented by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the recent change of command in the war in Afghanistan. Underscoring the challenge at hand, Obama's 44% approval rating in July 2-5 polling (Gallup did not interview July 4) ties his lowest three-day average to date.


On the question of Obama's leadership, 42 percent of registered voters now say they have confidence that he will make the right decisions for the country, with 58 saying they do not. At the start of his presidency, about six in 10 expressed confidence in his decision-making.

Obama's overall job-approval rating stands at 50 percent, equaling his low point in Post-ABC polling; 47 percent disapprove of the job he is doing. For the first time in his presidency, those who strongly disapprove now significantly outnumber those who strongly approve.

Among those who say they definitely will vote in November, 53 percent disapprove of the way he is handling his responsibilities.


Economists have declared the economic recession over largely over, but most Americans don't share their optimism, and they are increasingly blaming President Obama for their money woes.

Mr. Obama's approval rating on the economy has tumbled five percentage points from last month, according to a new CBS News poll, with just 40 percent of those polled expressing full confidence in his actions.

More than half of those questioned (54 percent) said they disapproved of Mr. Obama's handling of the economy. Last month, 45 percent approved. The drop in approval has been seen mostly among independents, just 35 percent of whom now say they approve


The poll shows widespread concern among Americans when it comes to employment. Seven in ten Americans rated the job market in their area "fair" or "very bad"; only a quarter of those polled described it as "good".

There did appear to be some optimism that the job market would improve over the next year -- but not a lot. While 28 percent said they expected the job market in their area to get better over the next year, twice as many -- 56 percent -- said it would likely remain the same. Another 14 percent predicted even fewer available jobs in the coming years.


Barack Obama's hit a record low in PPP's monthly national polling on his approval numbers. 45% of voters approve of the job he's doing while 52% disapprove. This is the first time he's topped the 50% disapproval mark in our surveys.

There isn't any one smoking gun to point to in explaining Obama's diminished standing. In the last month he's seen small increases in the number of voters disapproving of him among Democrats (from 13% to 16%), Republicans (84% to 88%), and independents (55% to 56%) alike.

The two most troublesome things for Obama in his numbers at this point are his standing among white voters and independents. Whites now disapprove of Obama by nearly a 2:1 margin, with 62% giving him bad marks and only 35% saying he's doing a good job. With independents his approval is just 40% and 56% disapprove of his performance.

Both WaPo and CBS have a tendency to skew their samplings in favor of the Democrats, and these polls are no different.  In the WaPo poll there's a 7 point advantage for Democrats while the CBS polls has a 5 point advantage for Democrats, both of which are far higher than they should be.  Even with a seven point bias in his favor Obama only manages to get 42% support for his decision making, which is just slightly important when you're the chief executive of a nation.  In fact the few subjects Obama and Democrats manage to win on in either poll are by small amounts, which means they aren't actually winning in those areas.

Even if you ignore the bias, Democrats will still have a hard time justifying the huge decline in support they've witnessed.  Both Gallup and CBS are quick to point out that both Clinton and Reagan has similar approval numbers during this phase in their Presidency and went on to win second terms.

Obama is not alone in facing a challenging second year in office -- Bill Clinton (43%), Ronald Reagan (42%), and Jimmy Carter (40%) all were below the majority approval level in July of their second year. Of course, each of those presidents saw his party lose a substantial number of seats in that year's midterm congressional elections, though both Reagan and Clinton recovered in time to win a second term as president.

What both fail to mention is that neither President has seen a decline on the same level of Obama.  If you look at Gallup's numbers you get some interesting results.  For example, Obama has seen a 23 point drop in support since he took office, while Clinton's level of decline at this point in his Presidency was 15 points, and Reagan's was only 9 points.  Keep in mind that Clinton only won 43% of the popular vote in 1992, meaning that he never lost the support of those who voted for him.

In fact the other person they mention - the one who failed to win reelection - who most resembles Obama.  Both Carter and Obama started with similar numbers at the start of their presidency (Obama 67%, Carter 66%) and ultimately Carter would lose 26 points in this same time frame, just three points more than Obama.  Keep in mind that Obama is still pulling in around 90% approval from blacks, which helps boost his approval ratings slightly.

The point both polls were trying to make (If you give CBS the benefit of the doubt) is that it's too early to be using these polls as an indication of reelection chances.  But reelection is exactly what Obama needs to be worried about.  In 2012 Obama will have to actually win the election on his own merits, without the hope of a huge turnout of young voters or minorities eager to elect the first black President.  In 08 Obama was a sort of "fill in the blank" candidate.  To the moderate he was a moderate and to the progressive he was a progressive, but in 2012 everyone will know exactly what he is, and it's not something anyone is happy with right now.

Speaking of reelection, wasn't she suppose to be unelectable?

With his approval numbers hitting new lows it’s no surprise that Barack Obama’s numbers in our monthly look ahead to the 2012 Presidential race are their worst ever this month. He trails Mitt Romney 46-43, Mike Huckabee 47-45, Newt Gingrich 46-45, and is even tied with Sarah Palin at 46. The only person tested he leads is Jan Brewer, who doesn’t have particularly high name recognition on the national level at this point.

It’s not that any of the Republican candidates are particularly well liked. Only Huckabee has positive favorability numbers at 37/28. Romney’s at 32/33, Gingrich at 32/42, Palin at 37/52, and Brewer at 17/20. But with a majority of Americans now disapproving of Obama it’s no surprise that a large chunk of them would replace him as President if they had that choice today.

There are two things driving these strong poll numbers for the Republican candidates. The first is a lead with independents in every match up. Romney leads 48-35 with them, Gingrich is up 50-39, Huckabee has a 46-40 advantage, Palin’s up 47-42, and even Brewer has a 38-37 edge.

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