By Dave Andrusko
Let’s put together a Gallup summary of President Obama’s popularity over the last three months (which ran yesterday) and an analysis of what might happen this fall, provided today by Josh Kraushaar at the National Journal and see what they tell us.
Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones tells us
“President Barack Obama averaged 43.2% job approval during his 22nd quarter in office, from April 20 through July 19. That is a minimal increase from the prior quarter’s 42.4% average, but still ranks among the lowest for Obama to date. His worst quarterly average thus far is 41.0% in quarter 11.”
Those numbers for the 22nd-quarter are higher than only two presidents, one of whom was Richard Nixon just before he resigned in August 1974.
“Obama may be able to keep his ratings above the 40% mark as long as he maintains strong levels of support among Democrats. Although Democrats’ approval ratings of Obama are down from earlier in his presidency, they still consistently approach 80%.”
Let’s move on to Kraushaar’s “The Odds of a GOP Wave Are Increasing: This year’s political environment is shaping up to be nearly as bleak as 2010, and that’s ominous news for Senate Democrats.”
A fair portion of his intriguing piece is an explanation/rebuttal over what’s constitutes a “wave.” As would be obvious, if you make the bar high enough, it’s almost impossible for the GOP to secure a wave (“shorthand for a landslide victory for the winning party,” as Kraushaar explains).
An important point made early: in the second midterm election, historically, the president’s party suffers high loses. “But Clinton’s and Reagan’s relatively high popularity likely helped mitigate midterm seat losses for their parties in the elections.”
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With Obama striving to stay about 40% in job approval, vulnerable Democrats don’t have that life-preserver to cling to. Especially given “that the right-track/wrong-track numbers [whether the country is on the right track or the wrong track] are near historic lows.”
Here are two quick observations.
First, the caveat we always offer. Politics and electoral fortunes can change in a heartbeat. But that turnabout should be less of a problem for Republicans in 2014, given the high caliber of their candidates, including challengers to sitting Democratic senators.
Second, as Kraushaar observes
“If anything, this year’s environment for Democrats is shaping up to be as bleak [as 2010]. Sizable majorities oppose the Obama administration’s handling of nearly every issue, including the economy, health care, and foreign policy. The administration looks out of its element, lurching from foreign policy crises to domestic scandal over the past year. Even out of the headlines, Obamacare is still a driving force for Republicans and for unfavorable poll numbers. This week, Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg released new data showing Obama’s disapproval at a whopping 60 percent in 12 Senate battlegrounds, with half strongly disapproving of his performance. Overall, Republicans held a 2-point edge on the battleground generic ballot, 46 percent to 44 percent.”
Please keep that conclusion about ObamaCare in mind. We are constantly told that the importance of this issue has “peaked,” and will not play a major role come November. That simply is not true.
In addition, there is the “generic ballot” gap. That is the response when people are asked whether they would vote for a generic Democrat or Republican (as opposed to naming a specific candidate).
Kraushaar informs us in his first paragraph that running even (or in this case, 2 points ahead) “usually translates into a clear GOP edge” when people actually vote.
Please take five minutes and read the analysis.