By Dave Andrusko
The last two times we’ve posted on President Obama’s rocky approval ratings as measured by Gallup, several kind readers politely suggested that my suggestion—that the President’s approval numbers could dip several more points, if not more—couldn’t be true. The President’s baseline supporters, my correspondents said, would never, ever give up.
Of course, I beg to differ. Just check events of the past 24 hours and ask yourself if Mr. Obama’s approval numbers seem primed to take another hit.
On a very much related note, here’s something else from Gallup, a follow up to the post we wrote yesterday about how Republicans and Independents are much more likely to be “thinking” about the November elections than are Democrats.
Unlike yesterday’s Gallup headline, this one sugarcoats nothing: “Obama’s ‘Strong Disapproval’ Double His ‘Strong Approval’: Republicans are more likely to strongly disapprove now than in 2010.”
The key, obviously, is not that three in four Republicans strongly disapprove. No, it’s the overall numbers and the downward trend. As Justin McCarthy wrote
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans are more than twice as likely to say they “strongly disapprove” (39%) of President Barack Obama’s job performance as they are to say they “strongly approve” (17%). The percentage of Americans who strongly disapprove of Obama has increased over time, while the percentage who strongly approve has dropped by almost half.
In the first year of Obama’s presidency, the percentages of Americans who had strong views about the job he was doing were essentially tied, but the strongly negative responses now significantly outweigh the strongly positive ones. The largest segment of Americans today, 39%, strongly disapprove of Obama’s job performance, while 14% moderately disapprove. Another 27% moderately approve, while 17% strongly approve.
Which is not to say the Republicans’ passionate (and growing) disapproval of Mr. Obama does not have enormous implications for November 4.
The Gallup poll story we discussed yesterday offered a theory why the impact of much greater interest (“thinking” about the election) might be exaggerated. McCarthy’s story, by contrast, does not minimize the potential impact on turnout:
Since 2009, a majority of Republicans have strongly disapproved of Obama’s performance, ranging between 58% and 75%. Gallup has not asked this intensity question frequently, but in its recent Aug. 7-10 poll, this percentage jumped 13 points from the January 2011 measure, suggesting that extreme dissatisfaction among the president’s opposing party is higher than it has ever been.
Notably, Republicans are even more likely to say they strongly disapprove of Obama now than in 2010, a year when a tide of anti-Obama sentiments led to major Democratic losses in the House and Senate in that year’s midterm election. Part of that increase may be attributable to the passage of time, in that Republicans are simply more solid in their views of Obama six years into his presidency than two years in. But those strong negative views of Obama could boost Republican turnout this fall when the Democratic majority in the Senate is in peril. [Emphasis added.]
What would make this situation even worse for Mr. Obama and his fellow Democrats? Obviously, if enthusiasm among Democrats is waning. And that’s exactly what Gallup found.
[W]hereas Democrats were nearly three times as likely to strongly approve as moderately approve of Obama in 2009, the ratio is now about 1-to-1.
What’s the final thing that could go wrong for President Obama and, by extension, Senate Democrats running for re-election this fall? A falloff among Independents.
According to McCarthy, 39% of Independents strongly disapprove, a number which, comparatively, has been consistent.
However this is not the case with those who strongly approve.
In previous years, one in five or more independents (19% to 23%) strongly approved of the president’s performance. In 2014, however, the percentage of independents who strongly approve has shrunken to 11%.
That is tremendous drop-off in strong approval: from 19%/23% down to a mere 11%!
More on Monday.