By Dave Andrusko
Yesterday we discussed the November elections and the daunting prospects Democrats face, given the rocky political terrain.
In that context, we mulled over President Obama’s approval numbers which (if you were an Obama supporter looking for the “good news”) had not changed much in the past few months.
But 43.2% is extremely low which means Mr. Obama is highly unlikely to provide buoyancy for sinking Democrats. If you read a column by the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza today (“Here’s why President Obama’s dismal approval ratings matter this November”), clearly the President is more like an anchor.
Cillizza says he is answering the observation that no matter how “lackluster” Obama’s poll numbers may be, it doesn’t really matter. He “isn’t on the ballot.”
After examining a number of polls and considering the historical context of Presidents in their second terms, the conclusion of this well-thought out piece is starkly simply and deeply concerting if you are a Democrat:
“What those numbers suggest is that while Obama is not the only factor in how people will vote this fall, he is absolutely a factor in how people are making up their minds. And, at the moment, people who see 2014 as a way to send a signal of disapproval about Obama greatly outnumber the people who want to use their vote to show their support for him and his agenda.”
The conclusion is so important I jumped to it without citing the evidence. Here is just some of it.
About three in ten people in a Pew Research Center poll said their vote this fall would be against Obama, as opposed to only 19% who said it would be for him. That’s bad enough for Democrats.
“Among self-identified Republicans, 55 percent say their congressional vote is meant to be against Obama; 61 percent of conservatives say the same,” Cillizza writes. “On the other end of the spectrum, just 36 percent say that their vote for Congress is meant as a vote for Obama.”
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But what about the all-important Independents? “More than one in four (27 percent) of independents say their vote is against Obama; just 10 percent say it is in support of the president.”
A second and very much related piece that ran in today’s Post (by Scott Clement) essentially answered “yes” to the question posed in the headline: “Has President Obama bottomed out yet?” Why?
“After six years in office, Obama has developed a bedrock of supporters — around 40 percent — that apparently won’t write him off without a major catastrophe,” Clement concludes. He gives himself some wiggle room at the end but clearly he believes the President has sunk about as far as he can go.
Two very quick points. First, what you might call mini-catastrophes are everywhere. With almost no exceptions, there is very, very little likelihood any of them will be “resolved” in a manner that improves the President’s standing. And that’s assuming nothing new breaks out.
Second, as we have written about repeatedly in NRL News Today, the public’s trust in the President’s competency continues to tumble. Moreover with more and more Americans convinced that Mr. Obama is acting as if he has effectively almost retired with more than two years to go in his term, he may be perilously close to tumbling down to the high 30s in approval rating, if not lower.