The Washington Post teamed with ABC News to poll President Obama’s approval ratings, and came up with a dismal 47% approve and 50% disapprove. Strong disapproval is up to 37%, which the Post reports “nearly matches the worst level of his presidency.” The President’s disapproval rating among independents has reached 55%, which the Post describes as “near record highs.” A Gallup poll released last Friday had Obama down to 41%.
Despite these awful numbers, the poll still finds Obama running ahead of all the marqee GOP candidates, by double digits. It would seem that “less than half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they are satisfied with the field of GOP candidates.”
The Post hopefully notes that Ronald Reagan was below 50 percent approval at the same point in his presidency, and went on to win re-election in a landslide. It’s hard to survey the ruins of Obama’s America and detect any brilliant policies that will soon pay off with economic growth and rising poll numbers. The poll reports that almost 80% of respondents say “inflation in their area is getting worse,” while 70% say “higher gasoline prices are causing financial hardship at home.” Both inflation and high gas prices are deliberate features of Obama policy, not problems he stands on the verge of erasing.
The poll discovered that “For the first time in available data, more than half of whites without college degrees see the economy as deteriorating.” High-information readers are likely to respond to that finding with a hearty cry of “Gee, ya think?” but keep in mind the general public is fed incessant stories about a marvelous Obama “recovery” that is forever poking at the inside of its shell and preparing to hatch. The bad economic and unemployment news is always “unexpected.”
When a Democrat sits in the White House, the media become used-car salesmen for economic recovery. When it’s a Republican, every episode of the evening news begins with a montage of gas pump prices ticking up like the score on a pinball machine, and men on the street are asked how they think the recession is affecting their neighbors. For a majority to reach the conclusion that the economy is deteriorating indicates that a lot of average folks perceive a truth that can no longer be hidden or spun away.
Of course, Congress always has awful approval ratings too. The last NBC/Wall Street Journal poll gave them 20% approval and 73% disapproval. It’s hard to assign any deeper meaning to Congressional approval, since by definition, a sizable percentage of Congress belongs to people any given voter is bound to disagree with. That’s one of the reasons Presidents are always given disproportionate credit or blame for everything the government does during their term of office.
These polls portray a landscape of disaffection with the current President. They’re waiting to hear bold and compelling talk about the alternatives. It’s time for the Republican presidential candidates to step up their game, and bring forth people who are ready to stand before that audience and speak with both reason and passion. Voters know we’re in deep trouble, and the same old cocktail of platitudes and bromides isn’t going to fix the problem. Note that Obama got absolutely no “bounce” whatsoever from his big “budget speech” at George Washington University. It looks like America retains a good number of voters who can tell the difference between nasty political rhetoric and a plan.
If there’s one thing the President’s cratering approval numbers tell us, it’s that people are tired of empty rhetoric, bitter class warfare, and vapid happy talk. They’ll return to a diet of such things in time, if they are not given something stronger and bolder to consider.
Update: An important additional point from reader Martin Hale is that even by the dismal standards for skewed mainstream media poll samples, this one’s a whopper. The Washington Post / ABC poll included a mix of 32% who identified as Democrats, 22% Republican, 41% independent, and 4% who gave no response. That’s an absurd 10% skew toward Democrats, which means the pollsters know the real numbers for Obama are even worse, and they do not want to report those numbers.
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