By Dave Andrusko
Hemingway once famously defined courage as grace under pressure. Just guessing but vacationing in an 8,100-square-foot vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard while the world burns (to borrow from the headline given to Obama apologist Dana Milbank’s latest column) might not qualify.
Milbank’s polite but unsympathetic column appears in today’s Washington Post and comes on the heels of a new poll from McClatchy/Maris demonstrating yet again that the collapse of the President’s approval numbers will hurt Democrats in this November’s off-year elections. Here are a few of the major findings.
Let’s start with two key results before we go to the contributing factors that explain it:
“By 42-32 percent, voters say their opinions of Obama make them more likely to vote this fall for a Republican than for a Democrat,” reports Anita Kumar. “And for the first time this election cycle, more people said they’d vote for a Republican than a Democrat for Congress, by 43 percent to 38 percent.”
“The Democrats are sputtering,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York, which conducted the survey of 1,035 adults.
And, as always, an important question is how the numbers are trending—and where are Independents? In April voters favored the Democrats by 6 points, 48-42. In a little over three months there has been an 11 point shift: Now they lean toward Republicans by 5 points, 43-38.
Miringoff told Kumar that not only have the number of Independents risen since Obama assumed office, they now favor Republicans over Democrats by a whopping 14 points—40 to 26!
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“More people see themselves as independents, and those people seem to have bailed on Obama,” Miringoff said.
Obama’s job approval is at 40% and among Independents it’s tanked. They disapprove by 53% to 35% who approve.
“Obama’s drag on the party is evident across the country, with voters more likely to vote for a Republican than a Democrat by 8 percentage points in the Midwest, 10 points in the South, 11 points in the Northeast and 13 points in the West,” Kumar writes. “Both genders are more likely to vote Republican than Democratic because of Obama, as are all age groups, whites and Latinos. African-Americans are more likely to vote for a Democrat.”
However people feel about his performance as President, Obama’s life preserver has been his personal favorability (the question was whether they had a “favorable or unfavorable impression of Barack Obama”). That has sprung a leak. Only 43% said favorable. Unfavorable was at 51%, the highest ever in the McClatchy/Maris series.