Free Markets, Free People

Independents Disapprove Of Obama’s Job Performance

At least in the domestic realm. Those are the latest poll results tracking the president’s job performance approval by CNN/Opinion Research Corp.

Obama retains majority support on foreign affairs at this point (although I don’t expect that to remain favorable for long), but a majority of independents, the key to his electoral victory last year, are not at all impressed with this performance domestically:

Fifty-three percent of independents questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday say they disapprove of how Obama’s handling his duties in the White House, with 43 percent in approval. That result marks the first time in a CNN poll that a majority of independents give the president’s performance a thumbs-down.

Here’s the key line in the article:

“Obama won a majority of the vote among independents last year, and that helped put him in the White House,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Losing their support makes it more difficult for Obama to govern from the center.”

So that leads the question, “how does Obama recapture this key electoral demographic”? The obvious answer is by moving toward the center. But if he does that he’ll have to scrap the more controversial parts of his health care insurance reform bill and there’ll be hell to pay with his base.

But it is even more complicated than that.

Is the fight over health care responsible for the downturn in Obama’s numbers?

“Yes, in part, but his standing on some other issues has taken an even bigger tumble,” adds Holland. “Among all Americans, his rating on health care has dropped 13 points since March. Compare that to his 16 point drop on the deficit and 17 point dip on taxes and it looks like there is growing discontent with Obama’s overall domestic agenda — not just his health care policy.”

Again, emphasis on the point the left seems incapable of grasping – independents disapprove of the whole domestic agenda – health care insurance reform is only the flash point.

So coming up with a new bill aimed at the health care issue, even if more acceptable than what is presently being proposed isn’t going to necessarily change the approval rating or bring independents back into the Obama (and Democratic) fold.

As an aside, this is interesting as well:

The survey also indicates that 37 percent of Americans think the media has treated Obama fairly, down 18 points from February. One in four say the media has been too critical of the president, up seven points from February and 36 percent say the media has not been critical enough, up 10 points.

If you add the 37% who think the media has treated Obama fairly, with the 18% who’ve dropped out of that category you just about have the percentage of the vote which elected Obama. My guess is that 37% that think he been treated fairly are mostly the independents he and the Democrats have been losing over the past few months.

Back to the topic – it is fish or cut bait time for Obama and the health care debate is where he’ll finally have to show his true colors. Is he going to try to woo the independents back by proposing moderate reforms and attempting to move back toward the center? Or will he double down, push the controversial portions of the legislation his base demands and all but declare his liberal colors? He’s not going to be able to please both his base and independents. So he’s going to have to make a decision and make it soon – look for his “major speech” on health care to be that decision point.



8 Responses to Independents Disapprove Of Obama’s Job Performance

  • McQ… it is fish or cut bait time for Obama and the health care debate is where he’ll finally have to show his true colors. Is he going to try to woo the independents back by proposing moderate reforms and attempting to move back toward the center? Or will he double down, push the controversial portions of the legislation his base demands and all but declare his liberal colors?

    I think he’ll try to have his cake and eat it too by making a few small, cosmetic changes to the existing legislation. For example, “public option” will be renamed as “co-ops” or some such thing. Then he, the rest of the dems, and MiniTru (BIRM) will make a lot of noise about how he’s “gone back to the drawing board” and is “trying to reach a bipartisan compromise”. Meet the new bill: same as the old bill.

  • This is a core problem for someone so image driven. Once control of the image gets away, it’s very hard to get it back.

    During the campaign, most people in the mushy middle were not really paying much attention. They didn’t get to know Obama much, but he looked superficially pretty good compared to Grumpy Grandpa, and he said all the right things. Heck, he even convinced some nominal conservatives such as Buckley and Noonan.

    The image was nurtured by a media determined to play a part in an historic event. They could successfully insulate Obama during the campaign. They drowned out questions about his preacher, his wife’s thesis, his terrorist buddy, and other potentially indicative factors by simply declaring them not relevant.

    This had two effects. First, it took in a lot of gullible people, especially those who don’t spend a lot of time on politics. Second, it primed a fair number of people who do pay attention to politics to understand the true Obama.

    This later group served as the kernel to start up the Tea Party movement and the town hall protests. The word about Obama’s true nature began to slowly spread, with a lot of people becoming receptive to the message because of the high spending and high debt of Obama’s early days.

    In many ways, the financial meltdown of last fall was both a blessing and a curse for Obama. It gave him a hammer lock on the election. But occurring as it did very close to the beginning of his administration, people didn’t pay much attention to what Bush did, and have assigned responsibility for handling the whole thing to Obama. I bet if you did a survey, you would find a rather small percentage who could correctly answer a question on who started TARP (Bush). That’s not really fair to Obama, but it’s what he’s got.

    Going from there, Obama has had some partial victories and a bunch of failures. Some, like Cash for Clunkers look bad from several points of view. Some, like his foolish comments on the Gates incident, directly undercut his image as a “bring everyone together” moderate.

    So his honeymoon period is over, burned up in getting a stimulus package about which people are deeply suspicious. He wasted much of his influence with Democratic moderates in the house with strong-arming over the silly cap-and-trade vote. He let partisan idiots like Pelosi, Waxman, and Reid drive his healthcare effort, and they’ve driven it to the very edge of the cliff and don’t seem to realize it.

    Time is not on his side. If he can’t get some serious action on his signature issues in the fall session, the current nervousness on the part of House Dems will get worse, and the Republicans will become more and more confident that the 2010 is their year. (Which isn’t all to the good. Up to now the GOP has mostly been MIA except for their “No” votes, which is probably for the best).

    His first impulse is to return to what worked: campaign mode. But I don’t think it will work here. His recent efforts in that vein have not stopped his sliding polls or blunted the impact of the grassroots opposition. The healthcare narrative is close to completely defined, and he didn’t define it.

    Doing campaign mode and failing doesn’t just fail to restore his image. It actively degrades it, by making it look (correctly) like he has no other skills to draw on. The media is fatigued from their full-court press for him, and starting to get a glimmering that the historic event they’ve helped midwife may turn out to be historic in a way they didn’t expect, so we’re starting to see some of them scramble to either straddle the issues, or even get on the other side in a few cases.

    I keep wanting to think that the pendulum inevitably turns and Obama will get some breaks that help his image. Heck, even Reagan benefitted from some fortuitous circumstances around the oil market and the toxic animosity of the Iranian mullahs for Carter.

    But I don’t see where those circumstances are going to come from. Whatever they might be, it doesn’t look like he controls them. So continued floundering, eventually hardening into a Carteresqe narrative, is the way to bet.

  • He has tried to play both sides in a single speech before, HotAir has linked to a few YouTube videos where Obama will say one thing early on in his speech, and then contradict it later on in the same speech. If he’s trying to get Obamacare past both independents and liberals, talking out of both sides of his mouth may be his only option.

    Well, he could always try honesty. (Oh, stop laughing!)

  • Approval ratings don’t matter when you have no opposition.

    • If we’re doing the “just post a wise sounding adage” form of commenting, my response is “Nature abhors a vacuum.”

    • He has opposition Tommy, you just keep telling yourself that calling them racists and other things will help you.
      There’s a light at the end of your tunnel Tom and it’s an oncoming train.

    • I think a more accurate phrase is “if there was no opposition, approval ratings wouldn’t matter.”