Can Obama rally his public approval numbers?

 

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-abortion President Barack Obama

Pro-abortion President Barack Obama

When New Year’s Day falls in the middle of the week, as it did this year, a lot of “looking-ahead” stories get held over until the following week. Let’s take a look at a couple of them and what they tell us about President Barack Obama.

The first came over the weekend from Chris Cillizza, editor of the Washington Post’s influential “The Fix” column. The headline?

“Can Obama raise his job-approval ratings enough for a political recovery?”

Cillizza made a number of points that we have discussed over the last six months, starting with the basic (as illustrated by the accompanying graphic from Gallup. From January to December, his approval numbers dropped 11 points—from 52% to 41%, according to Gallup—and 12 points according to a poll for The Washington Post-ABC News—55% to 43%.

Obamaapproval9(Cillizza did not get into all the other indices of Obama’s declining profile, everything from diminished trust in his honesty, his competency, his leadership skills, to name just three.)

The point of the column was could Mr. Obama somehow raise his numbers up to those enjoyed by Ronald Reagan (62%) and Bill Clinton (58%) a year into their second term? Actually, as the column goes along, the question is refined to could he make it back to the low 50s?

The President has been focusing on issues that might “rally his base,” according to the story, which makes sense, given that his approval dropped above members of his own party by 15 points.

But the problem is that Mr. Obama’s stock remains abysmally low with Republicans and quite low with Independents, dropping 14 points during 2013.

The accepted explanation for the fall off among unaffiliated voters is the disastrous rollout of ObamaCare, aka HealthCare.gov. He quotes Democratic pollster Fred Yang who told the Wall Street Journal “The president is being weighed down by one issue, his health-care law,” which is, obviously, larger than the performance of one (or many) websites.

Cillizza reminds us that it’s not as if the public suddenly reversed itself. ObamaCare has ALWAYS been unpopular. To quote Cillizza

“The issue for Obama in Yang’s statement is that opinions about the health-care law have remained remarkably stable (and negative) for the past several years. With a single exception in September 2012, support for the law has been in the low-40s-to-high-30s percentage range since the summer of 2010, according to monthly tracking polls conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. That consistency suggests that changing the opinion of independents (or anyone else) on the law is an extremely difficult task.”

The incredibly confused unveiling of HealthCare.gov has not only magnified the discontent. It has also brought to the surface truths that were obvious to those who followed the issue three and four years ago which makes a sizeable public opinion rally for the President problematic.

What have we learned since October 1? That millions of people have lost their insurance, but that many times more millions will lose their insurance in 2014. On top of that, premiums have skyrocketed and deductible are staggeringly high. And this is just the beginning.

So while the President will try to gin up his Democratic supporters by focusing on other issues, that (a) has no effect on Independents vis a vis a host of issues, most notably ObamaCare; and (b) misses the fact that large swathes of prime Democratic constituencies are also very unhappy with what ObamaCare is doing to them and their families.

And just a word (really no more is needed) about the conversation CNN’s Peter Hamby said he recently had with a former White House official. Hamby said this morning on CNN

“I talked to a former Obama White House person, just before Christmas, when Obama was sort of adrift, figuring out what to do, his poll numbers were pretty low. And he said, ‘Look, the president needs to find an issue to campaign on. This is what he’s good at. He’s really good at campaigning. Maybe not governing,’ according to this Democrat.”

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