Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Obama Weekly Approval Average Now 52%, a New Low

Obama Weekly Approval Average Now 52%, a New Low: "While Obama has taken some flak from the left wing of his party over his apparent willingness to take the idea of a 'public option' for healthcare reform off the table, Gallup finds little slippage in liberal Democrats' support for the president. In fact, among his Democratic base, Obama's approval rating has dropped more among moderates than among liberals. Among Republicans, the erosion is primarily seen among liberals and moderates, while his already-scant support from conservative Republicans has hardly changed."
He is down 4 percentage points with liberal democrats, but he lost 7 points with moderate democrats, and 8 points with liberal/moderate republicans.

1 comment:

DBX said...

Interesting. However, given the sample size, it's tough to extrapolate any significant difference between liberal Democrats, moderate Democrats, and moderate Republicans with subgroup margins below the level of significance for the entire survey. Rolling all three of the moderate to liberal subgroups into a single group and analyzing variance with simply with conservatives probably would achieve marginal statistical significance, implying fairly even disillusionment with Obama among all Obama voters, but not among centrists more than liberals.

The thing is, the people who voted for Obama voted with deliverables in mind such as pulling out of foreign wars and lowering health premiums and preventing health insurers from rescinding your policy, and the like. In the absence of serious Republican proposals on old GOP (and voter) favorites like reform, combatting waste, and being more cautious on foreign policy, any Obama movement "to the right" simply means "watering down the deliverables" rather than staking out a "more popular" position. That means a dynamic where the conservative Republican base doesn't vary much because constant repetition of the word "no" will consistently earn limited support but never a majority. And potential turnout for the current lineup of Democrats rises and falls not over whether they stake out a "left" or "right" position but simply on whether or not they achieve results. Republicans then win elections only by driving Democratic turnout down below their own constant vote haul.

In this context, the current Republican gameplan makes sense. Disagreement on policy within the Republican Party is higher than it has been in a while, and that makes it difficult to develop new policies or revive traditional GOP favorites. And making the Democrats look ineffective and feckless by blocking or watering down their policies works quite well. The blockage strategy works because there isn't quite a majority of liberals in either house of Congress, and Blue Dogs can be picked off. So, in practice, the Congressional Democrats ARE somewhat ineffective and feckless and can easily be made to look more so. And Obama can't do much without a working Congressional majority.

The mystery to me is the evident strength of the Blue Dogs' belief in triangulating their political postiions -- and of MSM and bloggers' belief in the effectiveness of such triangulation. I'm going to explain this one three ways. First, Blue Dogs tend to take a disproportionately large share of corporate special interest donations, so many of them are "bought" around to viewpoints that don't dovetail well with Administration requests. Secondly, some, but fewer than you would think, represent genuinely conservative seats. And thirdly, some simply believe the Beltway conventional wisdom despite evidence to the contrary. Among this last category is Jim Cooper, in a safe-as-houses Democratic seat in Nashville, a district that hasn't gone Republican for president since Dukakis, drifting ten points behind his own Democratic governor and 20 points behind Obama and yet continually shifting his voting record to the right of the district. Strange. It's almost as if he still thinks he's in his old seat from 20 years ago.