By Dave Andrusko
When it comes to presidential approval ratings, there may not be a “tipping point” where bad/awful becomes something with no bottom in sight. But if there is (and I believe there is), it could be the 40% number. Once a president drops below 40% for more than a few days/weeks, it’s almost as if a brake, of sort, gets released and the race is on.
Each day, after 1:00pm Gallup publishes a result which “is based on a three-day rolling average,” in this case July 27-29.
President Obama’s approval rating is now at 39%, his disapproval numbers at 55%.
We’ve discussed at length why this is so. But a piece by the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza that appeared yesterday offers a common denominator.
His opening paragraph….
“You can understand President Obama’s current political problems — and how those problems could make things very tough for his party in this fall’s midterm election — in a single word. And that word is ‘competence.’”
Cillizza reminds us that Obama was elected on “a stated promise that he would restore competence to government.” However, almost six years later and just a few months before the mid-term elections, “Obama is faltering badly on the competence question and, in so doing, badly imperiling not only his ability to enact any sort of second term agenda but also Democrats’ chances this fall.”
Of course an important measure of the validity of his argument is whether this is a recent development or something that has developed over time, and has remained consistent. Let’s see.
Released last Sunday, a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll asked whether “can manage the government effectively” is a phrase that applies to Obama. “Just more than four in ten (42 percent) said that it does while 57 percent said it does not,” Cillizza writes. (“It was the lowest that Obama scored on any of the six characteristic questions CNN asked in the survey.”)
That’s now. What’s “Obama’s trajectory,” as Cillizza put it? Hint: It “is all to the bad for Democrats.”
About a year into his first term (December 2009), “more than three quarters of respondents in a CNN/ORC poll said that Obama was an effective manager of the government.”
That figure did not drop below 50% until June 2010, Cilllizza writes, but “in the three polls in which CNN has asked the question since mid-November 2013, 40 percent, 43 percent and now 42 percent, respectively, have said that he is a good manager.”
This takes on enormous significance because mid-term elections draw a very different electorate that the one that votes in presidential years—“likely to be whiter and older than the one that re-elected Obama in 2012.” And the numbers in these categories who have faith in Mr. Obama’s managerial skills are staggeringly low. Cillizza writes
“Among white voters, 70 percent said that ‘can manage the government effectively’ is not a trait they would ascribe to Obama. Among voters 50 and older, 62 percent say that Obama can’t manage the government effectively. Eighty nine percent of Republicans say Obama isn’t a competent manager while 76 percent of Democrats say he is.”
Note the last sentence:
“Two thirds of independents say that Obama isn’t an effective manager of the government.”
So, it comes as no shock that most vulnerable Democrats are keeping the President at arm’s length. Cillizza concludes
“What those numbers mean is that if Obama is a major topic of conversation in the most competitive Senate and House races this November, that’s a very bad thing for his party.”