Sunday, February 06, 2011


This Rasmussen poll has gotten a bit of attention, and not exclusively from the right:

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Saturday shows that 23% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty percent (40%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -17 (see trends).

The president's Approval Index ratings have fallen nine points since Monday as the crisis in Egypt unfolds. Most of the decline comes from a fall in the number who Strongly Approve of the president's performance (30% on Monday, 23% now). However, for the first time since mid-December, the number who Strongly Disapprove has moved back over the 40% mark for five straight days. The Strongly Disapprove total had been above 40% for most of 2010 but fell to the high-30s after the president and Senate Republicans reached a deal to extend the Bush Administration tax cuts.

Yeah, yeah, it's Rasmussen -- though, as James Joyner notes, the numbers have worsed in the new Rasmussen poll compared to old Rasmussen polls. Presumably the right-wing bias hasn't worsened, right? (Call me naive, but I don't think Rasmussen just makes these numbers up -- I think the polls have a right-wing sample bias, and the bias is baked into the data, but that there's real polling going on nonetheless.)

The reason I take this somewhat seriously is that similar things seem to be happening in Gallup's daily Obama approval tracking poll -- run your cursor over the graph and you see that the president's approval number was solidly ahead of his disapproval number for much of late January, peaking at 50%-41% in the January 27-29 period. Now it's down to 45%-47%.

Or, rather, it's back down to 45%-47%. That's roughly where Obama was in the Gallup poll pretty consistently from June through early January.

So I don't think Obama's being hurt by his response to the situation in Egypt (a meme the right would desperately like to spread) so much as he's not being helped anymore by the three things that met with public favor in the past month and a half or so -- the productive lame duck session, the State of the Union address, and (especially) the very well-received Tucson speech.

I bring this up only to temper some of the excesses of optimism I'm seeing out there. Is Barack Obama "as good as a shoo-in in 2012"? That's what Kevin Drum said -- on January 24, when (according to Gallup) Obama's popularity bubble was at near-peak inflation (50%-42%), and when (according to Rasmussen) Obama's total approval ("strongly" plus "somewhat") hit 52% for the first time since October '09. Have we reached (to use John Cole's phrase) "peak wingnut," which is what Bill Maher was implying on HBO on Friday night? Well, Rasmussen's "strongly disapprove" number is down from its peak (47%) last fall -- but at 38%, it's about where it was last spring.

I just think we're where we were before campaigning heated up last year -- Obama's lame duck/Tucson/SotU bounce didn't sustain itself. We need real job growth, or drastic GOP overreach, or a 9/11-level national crisis, to change the numbers in a significant, lasting way.

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