Sunday, March 8, 2009

Obama Approval Update, A SIlly Electoral Map, Reader Feedback

Obama Approval Update -- Strong, But Not As Strong
I've loaded in the latest polls through March 6th (when the most recent poll was released) and we see a continued trend. President Obama continues to enjoy widespread public support with an Approve - Disapprove of 34%. This is good for him as he still has a lot of goodwill and political capital, despite tough economic conditions. But his supported has continued to slowly erode. The President's peak was an A-D of 56% just after he took office. Since then his weekly numbers have been:
Time Approve-Disapprove
Taking Office 56%
1 Week In 42%
2 Weeks In 41%
3 Weeks In 43%
4 Weeks In 39%
5 Weeks In 39%
Now 34%

What we can see is a fall off from the initial euphoria in week 1 (which you would expect), approximately 3 weeks of flat popularity and a decline over the past 3 weeks. Obviously maintaining such lofty numbers is not realistic while tackling tough issues, but the President needs to watch out -- if the economic news continues to be sour, it is very easy to envision a scenario where people quickly lose patience. If his negatives start to rise, while it won't really impact him electorally (these poll numbers are pretty meaningless relative to 2012, given how far away it is), it will impact his ability to advance his agenda on Healthcare, the Environment and Energy (his 3 stated policy priorities after the economy.)

So how does this all rate compared to other Presidents? For some perspective, it is approximately on par with former President George W. Bush's approval at this stage in his first 100 days but significantly ahead of former President Bill Clinton. President Bush came to office, despite all the controversy surrounding the election, with good will and got his cabinet settled quickly in a good economy and made few waves early. President Clinton, by contrast stirred some negative public sentiment early with controversies like nominees Baird, Woods and Elders, the Gays in the Military issue and the launch of Hillary-Care.

People tend to root for President's in their first 100 days. It will be interesting to see President Obama's numbers in his second hundred days when people start seeing him as the owner of the present circumstances of the nation. At this point, I would simply say he is widely liked, but there is some growing wariness of the size of his governmental ambitions, particularly among economically conservative people and some wariness on the part of all around whether we really have a plan to fix the economy.

Silly Electoral Map
A reader asked me to do an electoral projection based on the current poll numbers. This is a bit of a stretch since approval does not necessarily coincide to a vote for and disapproval does not necessarily coincide to a vote against, but by election day, it often tracks fairly closely, so here I go.

If the 2012 election were held today, President Obama would (unsurpisingly) win in a landslide against an unknown Republican. As of today, he would lose only 4 states: Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Oklahoma, the 4 most conservative states in the country.

I have no expectation that he will do this well in 2012. He has a long way to go.

As of today -- he is 3.3% into his term. A lot of ground to cover between now and election day 2012.

Other Reader Feedback
Here are some quick takes on some issues readers asked me to cover:
a. Biden's Internet Gaffe
I caught a little flack for not covering Vice President Joe Biden's latest gaffe, asking an aide when he was asked for the recovery website "do you know the website number?"

Sorry I missed covering this -- Vice President Biden both during the campaign and since taking office has started to resemble the Democratic version of Dan Quayle. He actually is a pretty bright guy, but unbelieveable gaffe prone and at times seemingly disconnected from what is actually going on in the world.

From what I've seen so far, I don't know that I could ever support Biden for President. And I don't think he could ever win. The next 4 or 8 years are as high as he is going to go in government, barring a tradgedy.

b. Rush Limbaugh
I have not covered the debate over Rush Limbaugh as "leader of the Republican party" or his speech at CPAC, covered in its entirety on CNN.

I don't know what it means to be the "leader of the Republican party" or any party that is out of power nationally. Certainly Limbaugh is a though leader among the right-wing of the Republican party, as he has been for years. But there are many other voices both in government (Gov. Jindal (R-LA), Gov. Palin (R-AL), Sen. McCain (R-AZ), etc.) and out of government (Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, etc.) I don't think Limbaugh speaks for the entire Republican party, nor does anyone. And if he did, boy would they be in trouble. The Republicans need a leader to rally people behind them not just fire up the base and alienate the rest of the populus.

c. Michael Steele's Performance
There are already calls for Michael Steele to step down as RNC Chairman. Good lord, talk about scape-goating. What was Michael Steele supposed to have done by now? His job is to be a mouthpiece for the Republican party and to coordinate efforts in the 2010 election. He's certainly been a better mouthpiece than Gov. Jindal was in his much publicized speech. The Republican Party has a big brand problem, Steele isn't going to fix it overnight.

I doubt he is going anywhere soon.

d. Omnibus Bill Pulled from Floor
This was a late breaking one that I should've covered in my last post. The omnibus bill has been pulled from the floor in the Senate over concerns over pork barrell spending. I don't get it. If earmarks are an issue, just pull out the earmarks. Oh wait -- the leadership in both parties put them all in.

I've said it before and I've said it again -- God help us as long as Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is running things on that end of capital hill.

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