TALES FROM THE MORE OR LESS PERMANENT CAMPAIGN TRAIL
I keep hearing that Barack Obama's approval ratings have plummeted to unprecedented depths, so I was struck by his personal approval ratings in the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (PDF). I'll give you the same set of results, with two dates highlighted.
First, the current numbers (click to enlarge):
Add up the "very" and "somewhat" positive numbers and you get: 56%.
Add up the "very" and "somewhat" negative numbers and you get: 33%.
Now, the numbers the last time NBC/WSJ asked the same question in the pre-election period:
Add up the "very" and "somewhat" positive numbers and you get: 56% -- again.
Add up the "very" and "somewhat" negative numbers and you get: 33% -- again.
In between now and then, his numbers were noticeably better from December through about ... er, April. That's the month when the first tea party happened. That, in other words, is when the right decided it was time to re-contest the November election.
And that's where we've been ever since.
It can be argued that this is just the public doing what it should do, which is constantly testing and challenging elected officeholders. Or it can be said that this is something more -- that even though voters decided that Barack Obama was the person to hold the office of president, some people refused to accept him as legitimate; some began suggesting not only that he shouldn't be president but that he wasn't a decent American (or an American of any kind) and wasn't fit to walk among decent people.
Which is pretty much what was happening to him in October.
So Obama's personal approval rating is back where it was during the campaign, possibly because we're back where we were -- in a campaign.