Friday, May 14, 2010

After 16 Months of Rain, a Cloud Break?

I was looking through the latest polling of President Obama's approval today and I found something upward trend. Not a huge trend. Not a November 2008 kind of trend. But a trend none the less. A real, obvious trend upward in Obama's numbers. And after 16 straight months with steady declines, a trend upward is big news.

In the last 3 weeks, the President's approve minus disapprove has gone from +1.4% to +5.2%. A 3.8% rise is real and statistically significant. The trend line is below.

May isn't yet half over, but the President, unless the polling falls flat on its face in the second half of the month, is poised to post his first gain in approval since he took office. Monthly numbers below.

So is this the beginning of an upward trend? I've speculated about this many times before, only to see the President resume his downward slide. But this time feels different. Employers are hiring again. Consumers are spending. Sure, there is a Greek financial crisis that could ruin the EU and by extension, the US recovery. But, for now, people are slowly starting to regain faith that maybe the President made the right calls in an economic disaster.

But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. He is still polling significantly below his vote margin in November 2008 (+7.2%). That is the significant threshold that he must break through to demonstrate a real recovery in his popularity. Right now, he is convincing wavering Democrats. He needs to convince upset Independents.

Watch these poll numbers very closely over the next few months. If the President is below 7.2%, the Democrats will suffer the kind of big losses in the mid-terms that I have been projecting based on current poling. If the President breaks back through, the whole game could change. Washington and California would be out of sight for the GOP. Illinois and Pennsylvania would swing back to Democrat holds. Suddenly Ohio and Missouri would look like real Democratic pick-ups. The DEMs could be looking at 57, 58, 59 seats going into the next Senate, not 50 or 51. They could be looking at a comfortable majority in the House, versus a razor-thin win or loss.

But that's all IF the President continues his recovery. And that's a big IF. There are still sharks in the water of the economy and sharks in the water in Washington and on the campaign trail. But it is funny how quickly things always change in politics.

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