"In contrast to the vitriolic rants you'll find on some political blogging sites, Palmer gives in-depth analysis and commentary." --Dan Cook, The Free Times

7/21/2010

An Altnernative View of Obama's Poll Numbers

Quinnipiac released a new poll showing that President Obama's approval rating has fallen to 44%, which is a record low for the second-year president. This has led to increased chatter among the media about how Obama is politically threatened, losing support among independents, and even trailing potential Republican challengers in hypothetical 2012 matchups.

This news is surely encouraging for Republican presidential hopefuls, Republicans seeking to recapture control of Congress, and conservative allies seeking to boost their fundraising. However, a threat to these gleeful Republicans is not that this polling is inaccurate, but rather that this polling lacks sufficient context about why Obama is politically weak to begin with. Weakness on behalf of President Obama does not translate into strength on behalf of his political rivals. President Obama is not weak because of a lack of legislative accomplishments or because he is personally unpopular. He is weakened because those who are attacking him have nothing of their own to defend.

Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee and other 2012 presidential contenders are getting a free pass right now, and that is what limits the value of these polls. None of these candidates, save for Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, currently holds public office. As a result, these potential candidates have little for which to be held accountable. They can reflexively bash the president for anything he does without having to make any decisions of their own that they must defend. They can appear before friendly audiences, grant interviews to friendly media outlets, give speeches and not take any questions, or simply not take a definitive position at all on the major political issues of the day (e.g., bailouts, illegal immigration, health care reform, financial regulation, spending cuts) and get away with it.

Obama is taking heat from Republicans and conservatives who claim he is spending too much money, growing government too fast, and taking the nation too far to the left. While Obama can respond to these criticisms, he cannot respond to his critics, at least not directly, because increasing their visibility would not be politically prudent. One rule of politics is that you should never shoot down. In other words, it is common for a governor to attack the president. But it is much less common for a president to attack a governor because that would elevate the governor and diminish the president at the same time. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, for example, is faring a lot better politically after getting into a tussle with President Obama over her state's tough new illegal immigration bill.

Similarly, should Obama respond directly to Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney, for example, it would show that his rivals are getting under his skin. This would generate more media coverage that could only be a net positive for his opponents' coffers. Further compounding this is the fact that Obama is politically isolated in that he has few people on whom he can rely to defend him and his accomplishments. Congress, currently controlled by Democrats, has an approval rating of about 20%.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid cannot take a more active role in defending the president because he has his own re-election concerns in Nevada. He is effectively making his race against Tea Party conservative Sharron Angle a referendum on her and her ideology, so the last thing he wants to do is change the focus of the race to Obama and defending the Obama record.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a bogeyman whose name is commonly invoked by conservatives who don't like her "[liberal] San Francisco values." Her taking a more public role in defending the president might do more harm than good in that she may alienate moderates who reluctantly voted for Democrats because they disliked their Republican alternatives. She would also give conservative activists more fodder they can use to gin up their own base.

Other liberal-leaning organizations have branding problems that limit their effectiveness beyond their bases. The NAACP, for example, is viewed with suspicion by many Whites who fear the civil rights organization plays the "race card" too often and seeks to advance the agenda of Blacks at the expense of Whites. MoveOn.org released their infamous General BetrayUs advertisement in 2007 which harshly criticized General David Petraeus, who is possibly the most respected person in uniform today. Environmental groups may have a bit more credibility with the electorate in light of the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, but public skepticism of climate change legislation and reminding voters of the public perception that Obama mishandled the BP disaster could blunt their messages' effectiveness.

Republicans have the mobilized Tea Party, the influential National Rifle Association, the well funded Chamber of Commerce, conservative talk radio, and a vocal minority in Congress with no legislative responsibility that all get to attack President Obama and his agenda with impunity. The Republican Party's approval ratings are actually worse than the Democrats' and Obama's approval ratings. But by relentlessly attacking the president and the majority party, the Republican Party and their allies are making Obama look increasingly unattractive and increasingly unelectable.

But despite this, Obama (and congressional Democrats by extension) should find solace in the fact that Obama will be running against exactly one Republican opponent in 2012. And that opponent will have to articulate his or her own policy proposals that go beyond the usual bromides of "smaller government, lower taxes, and less spending." Republicans criticized Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign for not offering specifics beyond "hope" and "change," so it would seem hard for them to get away with taking the same approach in 2012. Until a credible Republican begins to put forth specific policy proposals of his or her own, Obama will retain a political advantage regardless of how vulnerable his poll numbers may make him appear now--two years before the next presidential election.

In short, Obama's poll numbers seem more a reflection of his opponents' piling on him without having to worry about taking a hit themselves for not offering any solutions of their own. In addition, despite his legislative accomplishments, until the unemployment rate begins to fall and oily water stops spoiling the beaches and marshes along the Gulf Coast, Obama should expect to have great difficulty seizing control of his political narrative. This combination of external events and the lack of accountability that comes with not holding any elective office or being in the congressional minority should make Obama's poll numbers appear artificially low while his opponents' poll numbers appear artificially high.

4 comment(s):

Mark in Austin said...

I have missed your absence. How is the doctoral thesis coming?

Anthony Palmer said...

Hey, MIA. Long time no see. Yes, I've been very very busy the past few months, so I haven't had much time for blogging at all. A new baby, a dissertation, classes, exams, and job stuff have taken up a lot of my time. I'm still very busy, but I will try to restart this blog. It took about 3 or 4 hours to write each post in the past, which is time I just don't have anymore. So I'm going to try to write shorter and more concisely and see what happens. Since the 2012 race is gearing up, I want to be a part of the dialog! Now I just have to hope all my old readers come back!

kerwin said...

I think the "Obama Premise" was so big and huge to begin with that it was really bound to fail. The expectations coming in from the campaign was that he was the "cure-all" solution to ALL the problems. I think you can only do as much...

Anonymous said...

Want to thank all of you, for your Powerfull stand against Oboma & His Corrupted political partners.
But

there is so much more we can do. Being aggressive and focusing on the facts and truth is only the first step.

We musT follow Up with more details standing by our convictions and dont back down.

Oboma has NOT brought CHANGE, In fact ~! ~ THE ONLY real THING needing CHANGE !....Was Barack Hussein Obama II.

HIMSELF

Barack Hussein Obama II ( Who hates American Values ) who is A " SELF PROCLAIMED Enemy" ~of responsible, Morally Conscious HARD WORKING Americans.

oBOMAS Irresponsible & DRUG MAFIA and reckless supporters KNOW~ that Barack Hussein Obama II, WILL FORCE YOU to paY THEM, out of your PockeT .{ FOR all of their UNCHECKED Vices and THRILLS/

{ All on YOU | /

At your COST & Sacrifice

...This UN~CHANGABLE fraud, has done His VERY BEST to Inspire VIOLENCE. For THESE ARE OBAMAS Very OWN WORDS.. saying .........To his supporters.

Saying “Get ready for hand-to-hand combat with your Fellow Americans”

– Obama has ALSO DECLARED to his Supporters....“I want all Americans to get in each others faces!– Obama demands !

“You bring a knife to a fight pal, we’ll bring a gun” –

THESE ARE OBAMAS OWN WORDS.. /and ANGER VIOLENCE and more taxes..... THIS IS OBAMAS Change for america

/“Hit Back Twice As Hard”. He commands !*Obama on the private sector: ~~ “We talk to these folks…~ / so I know whose a*$ to KICK.“ OBOMA wants to KICK your a*$ /

Shouting THAT Republican victory would mean ~ “hand to hand combat”

HE IS EXPECTING people to be on Edge and BORDERLINE killing MODE, VIOLENT / and STAND up for their immoral CAUSES

THIS IS WHAT HE LIVES FOR ./ ./ ./ THESE ARE OBAMAS OWN WORDS.. !

* Obama Tells democrats: “ I’m itching for a fight.” !

....PLEASE.... go to reXes NEW WebsiTe ~ ! Oboma *( Just like Adolf Hitler~~\oBOMA~~~ Demands ! -- [ THE FINAL SOLUTION - for Un~Wanted Children

Barak Obama is A MURDERER .~Torturing UNWANTED babys on DEATH ROE

CLICK HERE http://obomlnation.webstarts.com/index.html

OBAMA TAKES a little NEW BORN innocent child. BORN. ALIVE sTabS it iN the head SUCKs ITS BRAINS OUT.

This is just to wrong and horrible. Please stand for Loving Children and the USA

Copyright 2007-2010 by Anthony Palmer. This material may not be republished or redistributed in any manner without the expressed written permission of the author, nor may this material be cited elsewhere without proper attribution. All rights reserved. The 7-10 is syndicated by Newstex.