Free Markets, Free People

Polling

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Preference cascade: How solid are Obama’s favorability numbers?

I wonder about the validity of these sorts of numbers:

While rising 14 points since February, Romney still trails the president, who currently has a 56% favorable rating, with 42% saying they hold an unfavorable opinion of Obama. The president’s favorable and unfavorable ratings are unchanged from CNN polls in March and April.

“The biggest gap between Obama and Romney’s favorable ratings is among younger Americans. More than two-thirds of those under 30 have a favorable view of Obama, compared to only four-in-ten who feel that way about Romney. Romney is much stronger among senior citizens, but the gap is not nearly as big," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Romney may have a small advantage among independent voters, but that is offset by his lower favorable rating among Republicans than Obama has among Democrats."

A couple of things – how strong, really, is Obama’s favorable ratings among a demographic scared to death of being called a racist if they happen to have an unfavorable view of our first black president?  That’s a legitimate question.

Old folks, for the most part, don’t give a damn about that and may more closely mirror the real feelings out in fly over land.

The reason I say that is Obama’s “favorable ratings” have continued to stay high while his job performance numbers have continued to fall.  That seems somewhat unlikely.  Usually the two show some movement in the same direction even if one is higher than the other.

Romney is going to grow on Republicans if he continues to attack (i.e. not be the designated place holder for the GOP and refuse to do what is necessary to win as did John McCain), keep the campaign focused on the real issues of the campaign (and Obama’s record) and not fall for the distractions that are sure to be tossed out to the media every week by the Obama campaign.  Republicans are eager for someone, anyone, who will carry the political battle to the Democrats.

John Hayward talks about the Glenn Reynolds “preference cascade”, a phenomenon Reynolds notes while talking about the collapse of totalitarian regimes.   Hayward describes it here:

A large population can be dominated by a small group only by persuading all dissenters that they stand alone.  Most of their fellow citizens are portrayed as loyal to the regime, and everyone around the dissident is a potential informer.  A huge dissident population can therefore be suppressed, by making them believe they’re all lonely voices in the wilderness… until the day they begin realizing they are not alone, and most people don’t support the regime.  The process by which dissent becomes seen as commonplace, and eventually overwhelming, is the preference cascade.

This analysis doesn’t have to be confined to the study of repressive, dictatorial regimes, or even politics.  Consider the phenomenon of celebrity without merit – that is, people who are famous for being famous.  Their popularity tends to evaporate in a preference cascade eventually, as people in the audience begin wondering if anyone else is tired of hearing about the ersatz “celebrity,” and soon discover that everyone is.

He then applies it to the politics of this race:

That’s what began happening over the past couple of weeks: a large number of people discovered it’s okay to strongly disapprove of Barack Obama.  His popularity has always been buttressed by the conviction – very aggressively pushed by his supporters – disapproval of his personal or official conduct is immoral. You’re presumptively “racist” if you disagree with him

That’s what began happening over the past couple of weeks: a large number of people discovered it’s okay to strongly disapprove of Barack Obama.  His popularity has always been buttressed by the conviction – very aggressively pushed by his supporters – that disapproval of his personal or official conduct is immoral.  You’re presumptively “racist” if you disagree with him, or at least a greedy tool of the Evil Rich, or a “Tea Party extremist.”

A negative mirror image of this narrative was installed around Mitt Romney, who is supposedly a fat-cat extremist (and, thanks to the insidious War On Mormons, a religious nut) who nobody likes… even though large numbers of people in many different states voted for him in the primaries.  Of course he has his critics, and I’m not seeking to dismiss the intensity or sincerity of that criticism… but the idea was to make Romney supporters feel isolated going into the general election, particularly the people who don’t really get involved in primary elections.

Both of those convergent narratives began crumbling this week: Obama is deeply vulnerable, and his campaign has no real answer to criticism of his record – they’ve even tried floating an outright fraud, the now-infamous Rex Nutting charts that presented Obama as some kind of fiscal hawk.  (Stop laughing – major media figures took this garbage seriously for a couple of days, and Team Obama did push it.)  Major Democrats, beginning with Newark mayor Cory Booker, expressed criticism of the Obama campaign… and the Left reacted with shrieking hysteria and vows of personal destruction for the “traitors.”

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney effectively presented both substantive criticism of Obama, and a positive agenda.  Attacks on his business record that were supposed to destroy him through class-warfare tactics failed to draw blood.  The idea that he can win became widely accepted.  That doesn’t mean he won the 2012 argument… but unlike Barack Obama, he is offering one.

What is beginning to lose its effectiveness, it’s cache, is, as Hayward notes, " … disapproval of his personal or official conduct is immoral. You’re presumptively “racist” if you disagree with him …”.

But when polled, especially among younger voters, that presumption is still powerful enough I would guess, to see those voters lie to pollsters.  It is a sort of social conditioning that has taught them to avoid such a label even at the cost of a lie (and even when speaking to a pollster).

So, and it is merely a guess, but based on a life long study of human nature, there is a distinct possibility that  the “Tom Bradley” effect may be pumping up Obama’s popularity numbers.

And, as Hayward points out, as it becomes less and less effective or acceptable to accuse those who do not like Obama of being racists, the possibility of a preference cascade negative to Obama’s favorability is a distinct possibility.

No one who has watched the beginnings of this race can, with any credibility, claim the Obama campaign isn’t struggling.  Donors are deserting him, his record is an albatross around his neck, there is strife between his administration and campaign and many of his political supporters seem luke warm at best with any number of Democrats running for reelection in Congress content not to be seen with the man.  Too many indicators that point to the probability that the numbers CNN are pushing aren’t quite as solid as they may seem.

Hayward concludes with an important update:

I should add that the most powerful cascades occur when an artificially imposed sense of isolation crumbles.  That’s very definitely what is happening here.  Widespread popular discontent with the Obama presidency has been suppressed by making the unhappy campers feel marginalized.  The failure of that strategy is akin to watching a dam burst under high pressure.

The race, once it gets into high gear, is what will cause the “dam burst” as more and more Americans discover they’re not alone in their feelings about the President and that they are not at all on the margins, but very mainstream. 

Once that happens (and it will), when everyone finally realizes they’re not the only one who has noticed the emperor has no clothes, the chances of a one-term Obama presidency increase exponentially.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Blue collar Democrats resent Obama vacations

Call it anecdotal evidence of the survey below and the point made about eroding Democratic support.  There are obviously many reasons for that, but let’s look at one of them.

Recently some Republican pollsters hit 11 swing states and organized focus groups composed mostly of Democrats and Independents.  What they found support the results of the Pew survey below.  The reasons are fairly interesting:

McLaughlin handled blue collar and Catholic voters in Pittsburgh on April 3 and Cleveland on March 20. He found that they are very depressed about the economy and feel that their tax dollars are being sucked up by both the rich and those living on government assistance.

During the focus group discussions about debt and spending cuts, many in his group volunteered criticism of the presidential vacations as something that should be cut. Among the lines McLaughlin wrote down was one from a Democratic woman who said, “Michelle Obama spends $1 million to take the kids to Hawaii,” and another who said, “President Obama was the only president to take so many trips.”

The theme, said McLaughlin, is that the first family “is out of touch” with working class voters.

As has been said, in politics, “perception is reality” and the perception being reported by these focus groups is not one a president who is going to have to rely on populist arguments to hang on to power wants out there.

Now will that be enough to have them drop support for Obama or not turn out to vote?  Obviously, we don’t have enough data to determine that.  But, what you don’t see here is blind support for him either.  The criticism, in this case, works against his populist posturing, however, and that’s not a good thing.

You may be questioning my assertion that Obama is trying build a populist campaign to help him retain power.  However, his only other option is to run on and tout his record.  And any sane political consultant would likely say, “are you kidding”?

So instead he’s engaged in a populist campaign.  Demonizing the rich, Big Oil, student loans, etc.  And his demonization of the rich is working, at least in Democratic circles.  However, that success is being negated by the perception voiced above:

He added that the president’s attack on the rich and GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney’s wealth is working, but the voters were also lumping in the president’s vacation spending in with the General Services Administration’s Las Vegas scandal and federal spending for those who aren’t looking for work.

Again, the populist campaign is being blunted by the president’s behavior and the spending scandal(s) surrounding his administration.

Oh, and another indicator to tuck away:

“There really wasn’t a real dislike for Romney. It was just that he is too rich. But on the other hand there is a start of resentment of the government,” he said. “What surprised me is that these were Democrats back biting on their own president,” added McLaughlin.

It doesn’t surprise me.  There’s a sense of entitlement with this president and his family that is off-putting.  And that is being picked up by potential voters and they don’t like it.  They most likely wouldn’t like it in good economic times, but could likely shrug it off.  But in bad economic times when they’re suffering, they deeply resent their president blithely ignoring their plight and essentially using his office (and their tax dollars) to indulge himself with something they can’t do.

Some analysts have a tendency to wave things like this off as nonsense.  But it isn’t.  A vote is made up of a lot of small things driven by their perceptions. When added up, that leads to a decision.  Who knows what other perceptions these Democrats have to add to this obvious resentment they hold? 

The point, of course, is are they enough to erode their support for Obama?  We’ll see.  But note, when Republican pollsters get this sort of reaction from blue collar Democrats in focus groups, it’s probably not a isolated feeling among that group.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Faith in Federal Government plunges

It has never been particularly high (except in 2003 apparently), but in the last few years, it has taken the same route as the economy.  The Pew Research Center has published a survey has taken a look at the favorability ratings for local state and the Federal government, and the Fed is in Congress and Nancy Pelosi territory when it comes to that.

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Governments in general have seen their favorability rating slip over the past decade, but none like the federal government.  And the “hope and change” administration has apparently managed to drive the unfavorable view of government even deeper than that mean old Bush guy.

I bring this survey up for a reason.  Many things factor into a vote.  Or a decision not to vote for that matter.  Getting an idea of how voters may feel about such institutions as government is important in trying to figure out how the vote has a whole will go.

The perception they have – favorable of unfavorable – of government is one of those good indicators.

Look, for instance, at the point on the chart around 2008.  Of course we all know what happened then.  But the unfavorability number then wasn’t as bad as it is now. 

It climbed after that mainly on the “hope and change” smoke and mirrors show.  But then reality set in.  Bailouts, trillion dollar debts for as far as the eye could see, failed stimulus, a huge increase in unemployment, passage of a hugely unpopular, expensive and possibly unconstitutional health care act along with cratering housing prices, an economy that continues to bounce along the bottom and an administration that frankly seems clueless.

Reaction? Favorability takes a dive to a new low – 33%.

Now there are those who will tell you that this is no big deal.  Well it is.  What this helps do is frame the debate for one side and tailor it to a receptive electorate.  Big government, intrusive government, expensive government has failed.   And there’s a three year record for everyone to see.  The federal government has tried, for the most part, to do everything the blue model of government says it should do.  It hasn’t worked.

Or said another way, this survey points to an issue that should be popular for one side of the political spectrum and require the other side to defend their model, if they can.

So why is this a problem for the current administration?  Because of where the most significant changes have taken place:

Since Barack Obama’s first year in office, public assessments of the federal government have dropped nine-points, with most of the change among Democrats and independents. In 2009, 61% of Democrats and 35% of independents had favorable opinions of the federal government in Washington, those figures stand at 51% and 27%, respectively, today. Republicans’ views, already low in 2009, have shown less change.

Everyone and their brother knows that the Republicans are going to have a less favorable view of a Democratic administration (just as the numbers were reversed when Bush was in office).  No big deal. The significance comes in the eroding numbers among Democrats and, of course, independents.

In fact, the number for independents is below the average for favorability on the whole.  Indies are in the 73% range of being dissatisfied with the federal government.  And Democrats are in danger of seeing the number slip under 50% if they’re not careful.

What do these numbers impact? 

What they’ll possibly impact, on the one hand, is enthusiasm.  Especially among Democrats.  The 10 point change between July of 2009 and today among Democrats sends a distressing signal to the administration.  They’re losing even their stalwarts.  And you have to figure that if there are 10% who’ve grown dissatisfied with the federal government as run by their own party, there are probably a good percentage leaning toward that as well.

Independents already had a pretty low opinion of the federal government in July 2009 at 35%.  This administration has done nothing to win independents over and in fact, independents now have a lower opinion of this version of the federal government (27%) than they had under Bush (35%).  In the case of Independents, the lower number may motivate more independents to go to the polls and vote for the opposition.

That’s hardly what the administration wants.

So file this survey away as an important data point and indicator of the mood of the electorate.  At this date, It doesn’t point to good times for the administration regardless of what candidate polls say at this stage of the race (they’re worthless).  This sort of information, along with direction of the country polls, etc. give one the mood of the country. As you can see, the mood – when it comes to the federal government – isn’t good.  It reminds one of the mood prior to the “wave elections” we’ve seen in the recent past.

How that will translate in November is still hard to say – but it will become clearer as we get closer.  In the meantime, take all the spin of who will win with a grain of salt.  There’s deep seated underlying dissatisfaction with Washington DC and those who run it.

That could mean big trouble for incumbents – especially the one in the White House.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


ICYMI: Democrats losing the voter fraud argument

At least in the eyes of the American people if this Rasmussen poll is accurate:

Despite his insistence that voter fraud is not a serious problem, Attorney General Eric Holder was embarrassed last week when a video surfaced of someone illegally obtaining a ballot to vote under Holder’s name in his home precinct in Washington, D.C. Most voters consider voter fraud a problem in America today and continue to overwhelmingly support laws requiring people to show photo identification before being allowed to vote.

Why do they support the requirement so overwhelmingly?

Simple common sense.  The arguments we’ve been putting forward for years – a photo ID is absolutely necessary to do many of today’s daily chores, so producing one to vote is no big deal.   And, in fact, it helps maintain the integrity of a system that badly needs such a shot in the arm.

Or said another way, most Americans don’t buy the argument that voter fraud isn’t a problem.  Additionally most Americans certainly don’t see one of the solutions – voter ID—to be a problem either. 

We’re not talking about a slim majority here:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 64% of Likely U.S. Voters rate voter fraud at least a somewhat serious problem in the United States today, and just 24% disagree. This includes 35% who consider it a Very Serious problem and seven percent (7%) who view it as Not At All Serious. Twelve percent (12%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

As for photo IDs?

Seventy percent (70%) of Likely U.S. Voters believe voters should be required to show photo identification such as a driver’s license before being allowed to cast their ballot. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 22% oppose this kind of requirement. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

So here’s a loser for the left.  It is something that actually hurts the left because most people don’t accept the argument that obtaining acceptable ID is either discriminatory or difficult.  They also know, from personal experience, how often they are asked to produce such ID while navigating everyday life.

Consequently, when the left tries those arguments, it falls on deaf ears.  They are instead seen as a group with something to hide, a group with an ulterior motive for wanting the requirement struck down.  And that motive isn’t seen as a positive one either. 

So?  So let the left continue to push the issue and continue to alienate those who see the requirement as a common sense safeguard against fraud.  It certainly isn’t going to help Democrats convince voters they’re for voter integrity, that’s for sure.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Obama’s attack on SCOTUS not a political “winner” per poll

Obama’s attack on the Supreme Court concerning his signature legislation, ObamaCare, and the possibility of it being over turned can’t help but make one wonder how such an attack would be received by the public at large.

Well, if this Rasmussen poll is to be believed, not very well:

While President Obama cautioned the U.S. Supreme Court this past week about overturning his national health care law, just 15% of Likely U.S. Voters think the high court puts too many limitations on what the federal government can do.

In fact, a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that twice as many–30%– believe the Supreme Court does not limit the government enough. Forty percent (40%) say the balance is about right, while 15% more are undecided.

So in the great scheme of things, given this poll is accurate, more Americans than not (in fact about twice as many) are concerned the Supreme Court doesn’t limit the government enough.  Hmmm …. no leverage there for the administration. 

In fact, 70% of Americans find that SCOTUS is about right or needs to limit government even more.

Interesting.

It points to an argument the administration can start, but is unlikely to win.  In fact, it would appear that most Americans, according to this survey, see the SCOTUS as a vital governor on the engine of run-away government.  And they surely don’t agree that the court has acted out of the main for the most part.  

That, of course, doesn’t bode well for a campaign to smear the court, does it?

Let’s see if this administration realizes that and backs off or, as it has many times in the past, blindly and arrogantly charges on.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Poll: Voters not particularly high on Obama’s performance in 3 key areas

As I’ve noted any number of times, there are polls which mean nothing (such as polls this far out comparing an incumbent president and GOP nominees) and there are those what present indicators or trends that give one insight into the prevailing mood of voters or the like.

The Hill produced one of the latter this past week.  Obviously a snapshot of the prevailing mood right now, it is not a poll with which the Obama campaign should be happy.

On Obamacare:

The poll indicated that 49 percent of likely voters said they expect a court ruling that is unfavorable to the Affordable Care Act, while just 29 percent think it will be upheld and 22 percent aren’t sure.

Economy:

On economic issues, 62 percent of voters say Obama’s policies will increase the debt, while 25 percent think they will cut it, and by a 48-percent-to-38-percent margin, voters believe those policies will increase joblessness rather than put people back to work.

Energy:

On energy, 58 percent say Obama’s policies will result in gasoline prices increasing, while just 20 percent expect them to cut prices — and by a 46-percent-to-36-percent margin, voters believe they will cause the United States to become even more dependent on foreign oil.

Now as far as I’m concerned, those are the three issues that are likely to (or should) dominate the election once a GOP nominee is decided on.  If they’re not, and the GOP allows the Democrats to frame the campaign on issues other than those, they stand a good chance of losing. 

Regardless of the outcome in the Supreme Court, ObamaCare remains very unpopular with a majority of the population.  The economy is one of those issues that is personal.  Despite media hype, voters judge the state of the economy on a personal level.  The “official unemployment number” can be made to look rosy, but in fact real people who are still unemployed or underemployed know who they are.  They are the real number and they’re not going to be happy with the state of the economy.

Finally, the energy tap-dance that the administration is doing is obviously failing.   Obama is failing miserably passing off the blame about gas prices if 58% are saying his “policies” are the problem.  True or not, perception is the rule.  Oh, and, frankly, it’s true.  See for yourself.

When you have consistent polls that say a vast majority of voters are unhappy with a president’s signature piece of legislation, that’s a place you focus your campaign.  When you have two important issues – the economy and energy – where significant majorities are down on the incumbent for his policies, you hammer that unmercifully.

This poll is an indicator of the issues the GOP should build its campaign around.  These points should be pushed relentlessly. 

Porn, contraception and other wedge issues should be avoided.   Sorry, but they’re net losers and true distractions.  They let the left frame the discussion and trust me, that’s where they’re going to take it every time.

Oh, as an aside, if you’re interested in what a useless poll looks like, check this one out.  Justices appointed to lifetime positions are hardly worried about “popularity”.  In fact, that’s the primary reason for such appointments.   While the poll may indicate public dissatisfaction with some rulings, it may also simply indicate a partisan divide.  But for the most part, it is irrelevant.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Gallup again points out for all the Republicans out there — It’s the economy, stupid!

I’m not sure how much more plainly it has to be said.  Here, let Gallup try:

More than 9 in 10 U.S. registered voters say the economy is extremely (45%) or very important (47%) to their vote in this year’s presidential election. Unemployment, the federal budget deficit, and the 2010 healthcare law also rank near the top of the list of nine issues tested in a Feb. 16-19 USA Today/Gallup poll. Voters rate social issues such as abortion and gay marriage as the least important.

If making the point graphically will help, here it is:

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The top 5 or 6 are your winners.  Any questions?

And in case that didn’t quite sink in and you still want to argue about it, try this one:

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Are we getting through yet?  Is it starting to get clearer?   Any talk about anything other than the top 5 or 6 topics, and preferably the top 3 or 4, is a distraction, waste of time and will see voters, especially those in the middle column critical to any electoral win, tune you out.

It is the economy, stupid.  That’s what the people are concerned with, what they’re most likely to base their vote on and what they expect you to be talking about.

Take a hint.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Issues that unite: Opposing “tax the rich” and class warfare

Despite what Democrats thing and despite the fact that they’ve doubled down on this theme, the “tax the rich” meme of their class warfare agenda isn’t at all as popular as they think it is, as the Hill reports:

Three-quarters of likely voters believe the nation’s top earners should pay lower, not higher, tax rates, according to a new poll for The Hill.

The big majority opted for a lower tax bill when asked to choose specific rates; precisely 75 percent said the right level for top earners was 30 percent or below.

The current rate for top earners is 35 percent. Only 4 percent thought it was appropriate to take 40 percent, which is approximately the level that President Obama is seeking from January 2013 onward.

So this is another issue in which the GOP would be able to find majority support.

And on corporate taxes, much the same thing:

The Hill Poll also found that 73 percent of likely voters believe corporations should pay a lower rate than the current 35 percent, as both the White House and Republicans push plans to lower rates.

The Hill tires to argue that the results of their poll is counter to what other recent polls have found.  But in reality, it isn’t:

The new data seem to run counter to several polls that have found support for raising taxes on high-income earners. In an Associated Press-GfK poll released Friday, 65 percent said they favored President Obama’s “Buffett Rule” that millionaires should pay at least 30 percent of their income. And a Pew poll conducted in June found 66 percent of adults favored raising taxes on those making more than $250,000 as a way to tackle the deficit.

Again, note the percentage number in the AP-GfK poll – 30 percent or the percentage they’re now paying.  When you ask voters to put a tax-the-richpercentage to the nebulous “the rich should pay more” meme, you find the majority of voters consider 30% more than fair.  The fact that many may not know that the so-called “rich” are paying that amount is means the GOP needs to do a little educating and informing, but it is clear that voters find the 30% threshold to be more than enough taxation.

So while the Democrats continue to try to push 40% as “fair”, most voters don’t see it as that.  The majority of votes seem to think that fairness in the amount of taxes paid is found at the 30% level.   That’s information to exploit and use against the class warfare Democrats.

Additionally the AP-Gfk polls shows majority support for spending cuts over tax increases.  That’s a winner for the GOP.

What the GOP can’t do is allow the Democrats to take the issue and frame it as Timothy Geithner tired to do the other day:

“…the only way to achieve fiscal sustainability is through unacceptably deep cuts in benefits for middle class seniors, or unacceptably deep cuts in national security."

That’s patent nonsense, but the usual scare tactics employed when anyone talks about significant cuts in spending. Always threaten the security of a large body of voters with false choices.  There are literally thousands of different ways to work toward sustainability before either of those programs would have to be touched (and yes, those programs should be “touched” as well). 

So what do Republicans have to do?

“It might be that people are underestimating how much the rich pay now,” said Bruce Bartlett, a former Reagan adviser and Treasury official under President George H.W. Bush.

The data could indicate a challenge to Obama’s push to increase taxes on the wealthy. The White House’s fiscal 2013 budget request included a number of tax hikes targeting the nation’s wealthiest. In addition to the “Buffett Rule,” it calls for raising taxes on family income above $250,000 in 2013, and returning the top individual rate to 39.6 percent.

But as Obama continues his push to allow the higher-end Bush tax cuts to expire at the end of the year, the poll suggests it might be difficult to persuade voters to buy in when it comes to hard numbers.

Start talking hard numbers and percentages.   Point out that our problem doesn’t revolve around the “rich” not paying enough in taxes, but instead with our politicians spending money we don’t have. 

The sustainability problem has never been a problem of revenue.  It has always been a problem of overspending.  And it is that which has to stop.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


There are polls and then there are polls

As I’ve said repeatedly over the years, candidate vs. candidate polls are virtually useless this far out from an election (9 months).

There’s little reason to pay attention to them.  So when you see these:

Obama 49.0%
Romney 43.3%

Obama 50.0%
Santorum 42.5%

Obama 53.0%
Gingrich 39.1%

Obama 48.6 %
Paul 40.4%

Remember this:

[I]n January 1980, the Gallup Poll showed:

Carter 63%
Reagan 32%

And, of course, there are plenty of other examples of those sorts of polls to be found if you look.

That said, there are polls that are indicators because they provide a history that lends itself to identifying whether or not an incumbent is actually in trouble or not.  The candidate v. candidate polls above really don’t.  We’re still in the early stages of nominating a candidate for one party and the focus has yet to really turn on the incumbent.  Numbers will change, I suspect fairly dramatically, when that happens.  And, to this point, I’d suggest that most of the country isn’t yet engaged in the presidential race.  That will happen 6 months from now when you can begin to pay attention to those polls pitting candidate against candidate.

But to those polls that matter, or at least point to historical trends, etc.  Here’s one:

It’s February, nine months before a presidential election, and only 22 percent of Americans say they are satisfied with the way things are going.  Voters haven’t been this unhappy with the country since George H.W. Bush’s presidency, when only 21 percent of Americans reported being happy with the country’s direction. And before that, the lowest approval rating was 19 percent during Jimmy Carter’s first term.

What do the two presidencies have in common? Neither of them won re-election. And, if the trends holds true, Obama looks to be in an equally precarious situation.

The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research released its 2012 campaign outlook, and it’s clear Obama’s sitting in the same position George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter were in during the February before their election losses—voters don’t feel good about the country.

So when I hear Democratic strategists like James Carville saying things like this …

The only way the president will lose according to Carville is if some event takes place and changes things.  He maintained it wouldn’t be the result of the GOP nominee outshining Obama.

“Right now, things are starting to perk up a little bit,” he said. “Who knows? This is the — no Republican can beat Obama. Events can beat Obama. He’s not going to get beat by a Republican. Now events could come in and cause him to lose the election. But that’s it right now. That was not the case three months ago.”

… I laugh.  This is pure “whistling past the graveyard” and political spin.  Carville is engaged in psychological warfare here.  He wants everyone to believe the worm has turned and it is all sunlight and roses for his candidate.

If dissatisfaction can be called an “event”, then that’s the event which should put Obama exactly where he belongs in November  – planning for his presidential library in 2013.

Carville knows as well as anyone that at this point in the process, his choice for re-election has gone almost unscathed and his record mostly unscrutinized.   But that will change and it will change dramatically in a few months.  And about that time, the focus of the nation will begin to turn to national politics. 

The fact remains that the American public is not happy and when it is not happy it tends to not reelect its president.  That is the “event” this president faces.   And my guess is, when the GOP finally settles on its candidate, OMG (Obama Must Go) will be the driving “event” which determines the election.

Carville says “no Republican” can beat Obama?  I disagree.  In the end, any Republican can beat Obama.  Some by larger margins than others, certainly.  But that’s my prediction.  The Democrats really haven’t a clue about the level of dissatisfaction that exists with this president.

Even the president most demonized by the left had better numbers than Obama does.  At the January SOTU prior to his 2004 re-election run, George W. Bush enjoyed a 41% satisfaction rate (as did Ronald Regan and Bill Clinton).  As noted, Obama is at 22%, 3 points above the president almost universally identified as our worst modern president.

Let’s see if James Carville is still laughing after the “event” it November.  My guess would be “no”.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Is the “enthusiasm gap” now on the side of Democrats?

A new PPP poll suggests that’s the case.   As I’ve mentioned any number of times, this is one of the polls I keep tabs on because the enthusiasm of the voting public for a particular candidate or party are key to Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts and election wins.

PPP’s latest:

The paltry turnout in the Republican Presidential contests over the last week reflects what we’ve seen in our recent national polling: Democrats are now more excited about voting this fall than Republicans are, reversing the enthusiasm gap that plagued the party in 2010.

Our last national survey for Daily Kos found that 58% of Democrats were ‘very excited’ about voting this fall, compared to 54% of Republicans. Six months ago the figures were 48% of Democrats ‘very excited’ and Republicans at the same 54%. Generally you would expect voters to get more excited as the election gets nearer. That trend is occurring on the Democratic side, but not for the GOP.

And:

Going deeper inside the numbers:

-25% of conservatives are not at all excited to vote this fall, compared to only 16% of liberals.

-The percentage of Tea Party voters ‘very excited’ about voting in November has declined from 73% to 62% since late July.

-The single group of voters most enthused about turning this year are African Americans, 72% of whom say they’re ‘very excited’ to cast their ballots.

Given the GOP primary process, I have to say I’m not at all surprised by these numbers.  It’s has been bloody and divisive.  But, as PPP admits, this could change once a nominee is settled upon.  And, one should remember, President Obama has been mostly out of the pre-election limelight.  Once the focus of the GOP has settled on him, you may see enthusiasm on the right rise again.  But suffice it to say, the enthusiasm gap we see right now has more to do with the current crop of GOP candidates than ousting Barack Obama from the presidency.

Another poll, WND/Wenzel Poll, suggests that 20% of self-identified Republicans  are leaning toward Obama this year.  I’m not so sure about that.  And if true, does that indicate actual support for Obama or disgust with the GOP process (and candidates).  I’d guess the latter.  At this point, though, Intrade has Obama’s re-election chances at 60%.

Before the Obama campaign begins to celebrate, there’s something they need to consider this from Gallup:

This historical pattern suggests that Obama would need to see his job approval rating climb to 50% to be in a comfortable position for re-election. History shows that by March of the election year, all winning presidents in the modern era, including George W. Bush, had job approval ratings above 50%, and all losing presidents had job approval ratings below 50%. This suggests that where Obama stands by next month may be an important indicator of his ultimate re-election chances.

In fact, at this point in his presidency he has an approval rating below that of both George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, both of whom lost their re-election bids.

Independents aren’t mentioned among all this polling and it is their enthusiasm and turn out that will likely determine November’s outcome.  But still … if you can get your own base enthused, how are you going to convince indies to turn out for you?

That’s what I want to try to look into a little at CPAC.  We’ll see what I find.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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