Big F'n Disaster

Or, how do you get everything wrong.

Via Harris:

Only 26% have a favorable view of Vice President Joe Biden's job performance, while nearly half (45%) have a negative view of his job.

Via Gallup:

Over the past year, Obama has lost support among all party groups, though the decline has been steeper among independents than among Republicans or Democrats. Today's 38% approval rating among independents is 18 percentage points lower than the 56% found July 6-12, 2000.

Which begs for the previous comparison:

Obama is not alone in facing a challenging second year in office — Bill Clinton (43%), Ronald Reagan (42%), and Jimmy Carter (40%) all were below the majority approval level in July of their second year.

But that sort of skimming the top analysis lacks context. It'd be historically unprecedented for Obama to have the sort of reversal that Reagan achieved, or even Clinton, from now until the end of his Presidency. That's because Obama is also the most polarizing President ever.

Obama achieved that feat a mere year into his Presidency (the result of the attempt at playing a bipartisan hand in Congress while elevating Limbaugh/Palin/Tea Party grassroots with engaged attacks), with a net negative reaching 65% between Republicans and Democrats. The net negative stands at 69% now, 18 months into the Obama Presidency. For perspective, the highs of the others mentioned above:

Clinton- 52%

Reagan- 45%

Carter- 27%

The partisan nature of Obama's divide means he's very unlikely to dramatically change the poll numbers; like Democrats did against Bush, once Republicans have turned against Obama in this environment, there's no reason to look back. Here's their take:

Obama, like any winning Democratic presidential candidate, put together a coalition of independents and core liberals. That has now unraveled, as independent voters have come to see him not as a post-partisan, fiscally responsible, and coolly efficient leader but rather as a hyper-partisan and statist liberal who’s not all that competent.

About 80-85% of Democrats is where he is likely to have as a high point too. Which brings us back to Independents.

And the kicker: Many of the Independents or soft Democrats that Democratic candidates most need to win, identify themselves with the Tea Party.

Every single commentator I read that posted about the recent Gallup poll on the Tea Party came to the same lame conclusion: 79% of them identifying with the Tea Party likewise identified with the Republican Party. 79% equals the same thing! How insightful; hence, there's no difference... cut to the Jr. High discourse.

The more relevant item from that Gallup poll of Tea Party supporters is more telling about the 2010 landscape. Among the 54% of Democrats and Independents among the wider population polled by Gallup, 39% of that total  are Tea Party supporters-- that's the other 21% of supporters. Folks like E.J. Dionne ("Democrats will spend their time chasing votes they will never win."), do us a favor and never get anywhere near to laying out a strategy a close election depends upon for winning.

Democrats have no chance at all of winning those 39% of different type of Democratic voters and pure Independents? We might as well give up!

Actually, its the only chance they have at winning. You know who realizes a simple fact like this?  Russ Feingold. Joe Gandleman explains a simple electoral fact being missed:

...elections are usually won by the party that captures “the center” and can peel off independent support from the other party. To be sure, a chunk of the independents have usually been dissatisfied former Republicans in recent elections, but during other years a good chunk of independents have also been dissatisfied Democrats. Independents may also include those who never belonged to a party as well.

You can even be an Obama loyalist and get this by just remembering Iowa's 2008 primary. Why so many now have lost that simple understanding must be due to the partisan climate, especially in the blogosphere where much of whats posted is like-minded speaking to like-minded, sharing shallow thoughts mistaken as facts.

The Harris conclusion:

People are unhappy, they need someone to blame and those in power are the ones feeling the heat at the moment. How this translates at the ballot boxes in November is still unknown. The next four months should be interesting to watch as politicians scramble for their political lives. There might be one bright spot for Republicans and Democrats in Congress - they are both at such low points in job approval, there might not be any place to go but up.

Maybe, but I wouldn't bet on it at this time.


Tags: (all tags)



How's my grammar?

'cause that's what really matters!

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-07-07 04:04PM | 0 recs
RE: How's my grammar?

What matters is your deep knowledge and clear insight.  Thank you for being a clear leader!

by 2010-07-07 05:06PM | 1 recs
RE: Big F'n Disaster

So do you think Dems keep the House?

by Nathan Empsall 2010-07-07 04:15PM | 0 recs
RE: Big F'n Disaster

Obama is growin more and more unpopular indeed... the thing is the GOP isn't gaining all that much... We are goin to see a major Independent movement before long, I think that's growing more apparent.

by Nathan Empsall 2010-07-07 04:16PM | 0 recs

Obama's approval rating has held remarkably steady over the past few months in the high 40's, on average.

It's in Democrats' nature to believe that the sky is falling. We've done it routinely since 1968.

It's debatable whether Obama is a popular President (now), but I don't see any indication that his popularity has changed over the past few months.

From my perspective, he shed the McCain voters first last summer, and then he shed a good fraction of the independents during HCR. The McCain voters are irrelevant. Even many of those independents don't matter.

Instead of all the hand wringing, the more intellectually curious question is: why is Obama as popular as he is?

by NoFortunateSon 2010-07-07 05:51PM | 0 recs
RE: Growing?

New poll today burnishes that view, 48-47. Jerome's point is the cross-tabs are a nightmare.

I withhold judgement, especially on 2012. Maybe unemployment improves - even a legit 1% would matter. Maybe the BP relief well continues to be ahead of schedule and the issue, while still an unmitigated disaster, fades from voters' minds. Maybe, after the midterms, the Afghanistan timetable actually holds (HA!). Anything could happen.

by Nathan Empsall 2010-07-08 02:41PM | 0 recs
RE: Growing?

Jerome's point is the cross-tabs are a nightmare.

But if the poll numbers aren't great, I don't understand how the cross-tabs would be expected to bring any better news?

Jerome is arguing that democrats are in trouble because they are unpopular. Independent support may have declined. The polls show that clearly. But I have to respond: so what? Aren't independents less important in a midterm anyways? Is there any evidence these independents voted for him the first time? And unlike 1994, isn't it true that democrats aren't facing a more appealing alternative this time around?

Obama won a landslide in 2008. Before I begin to fret needlessly over 2012, I need to see some evidence that voters lost will exceed voters gained by a margin statistically significant enough to undo that.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-07-08 04:53PM | 0 recs
RE: Big F'n Disaster

I've said 50 seats lost for a while now as a guess. Could be less, or more, will have to wait till post labor day to firm it up.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-07-08 09:06AM | 0 recs
If we lose the House, its OVER

Look for Obama to cave and accept a major tax cut for the wealthy as a way to stimulate the economy in the next two years since Republicans will block any new stimulus.  I really wish Hillary supporters had made due on their promise not to vote for Obama if he was the nominee in 2008.  Then, we wouldnt be in this shithole. 

by Kent 2010-07-08 05:21PM | 0 recs
RE: If we lose the House, its OVER

wait, are you really saying that things would be better with McCain?

I hope I just read that incorrectly.

by jeopardy 2010-07-08 09:00PM | 0 recs
Things would be 100 times better

With McCain we wouldnt have had a right wing GOP Congress elected that will slash spending in half and really cause a depression. 

by Kent 2010-07-08 09:13PM | 0 recs
RE: Things would be 100 times better

Obama still has a veto pen, you know. 

I don't understand theargument that:

"it would have been better to have a branch of government in GOP hands these last two years... so that we wouldn't risk having a branch of the government in GOP hands during the next two years"

That never made much sense to me.


by jeopardy 2010-07-08 09:43PM | 0 recs
RE: Big F'n Disaster

Yes, it will be a 50-60 seat loss, but I don't think we'd be having this discussion if unemployment were 6.5% instead of 9.5%.

by esconded 2010-07-08 08:52PM | 0 recs
RE: Big F'n Disaster

That is why Obama should have forced Bernanke to print money and put it into the economy to help grow the economy and also stop the deflationary spiral that is destroying the economy.  If Bernanke didnt listen, Obama could have threatened him by saying that if he doesnt do what he wants, he wont reappoint him in 2010.  That is leadership. 

by Kent 2010-07-08 09:17PM | 0 recs
I hope Hillary wins in 2012



by eroded47095 2010-07-07 04:51PM | 0 recs
Joe Biden also said:

"you can't beat something with nothing"

Kos already posted earlier, that while the Democrats are unpopular, the Republicans remain moreso. And Gallup once again sees a continuation of a statistical tie in generic ballot voter preference, albeit amongst RVs.

Obama is unpopular? Joe Biden moreso? Democrats are the worst? And Republicans are below even that? That's a surprise? When that order changes, then there is something to talk about

by NoFortunateSon 2010-07-07 06:06PM | 1 recs
Why is this surprising to anyone?

When you lose your most ardent worker bees aka your base~and I don't mean the squishy 'independent' middle'~you tend to lose.

Obama and Democrats need supporters to cheerlead his accomplishments by campaigning, doing outreach with friends and neighbors doing what the Deval Patrick re-election Campaign is calling the 'Get 50'.

It's easy to see the disullusionment among the very people who canvassed the hardest 2 years ago because what most are feeling is that they are looking at the past 2 years as a fight avoided, a true battle for good policy never waged, nearly always a cave in to special interests; there is sense that there is no advocate for the majority of Americans.

What Americans have listened to relentlessly is the need for bi-partisanship....well, that won't put food on anyone's table:we need civility, not bipartisanship, and relentless advocacy for good policy that will have  tangible results that impact the lives of Americans in a positive way.

They are  not seeing that, what they are seeing is a squandering of an historic opportunity not handed to many Presidents in favor of incrementalism.

No-one gets excited about incrementalism...because it's not real change. And as for the argument that the GOP is them on it all the time. But Obama doesn't, only occasionally; there is no narrative for the age except for this weird attachment for bi-partisanship which accomplishes nothing.

The status  quo in DC never had it so good because Obama is both a compromiser and a triangulator and he has signalled for 2 years that he  will never directly take on entrenched interests, which, if memory serves, it was John Edwards who first used all three terms~compromise,triangulate, and directly taking on entrenched interests~ in a candidates' debate when he, Edwards promised to 'directly take on entrenched interests, and it polled off the charts.

People want someone who will fight for them and they aren't seeing a fighter. If they were, I think they would forgive a lack of any 'perceived' legislative accomplishments.

by merbex 2010-07-07 06:25PM | 1 recs
Surprised? Yes. For the same reasons? No.

One of Jerome's points, above, is that the Democrats need to reach out to the 21% of teabaggers who identify as independents or soft liberals instead of attacking them.

I always applaud thinking outside the box, even if it is way, way, way outside the box here. So I must applaud his thinking... even if it is logically riddled with holes.

There is no indication that those 21% of teabaggers ever cast a vote for a democrat in recent times. Chances are, they are working class whites, who left the part long ago and should be the focus of Democrats no more.

And therein lies the problem: you have a depressed economy, and people are angry, even though Barack Obama shouldn't be the legitimate recipient of that anger. So who do you court?

Jerome says go after the white working class voters, that 21% of teabaggers he's talking about. Those people won't come to Obama. He would have to go to them, and leave behind any last vestiges of being a democrat. And even then, I doubt these people would approve of him. There is, after all, one thing Obama can't change. I strongly believe that non-college educated working class whites are a demographic best left forgotten by the democrats. They're more trouble than they're worth.

Your argument is more meritorious, that an energized base will carry democrats through the midterms, as the base has always done in midterms. And by engaging in incrementalism, Obama has alienated an impatient base. The problem is, change has always (always) been incremental. Reading the history of FDR is very useful (see especially social security). And progressives have always been impatient (see same history). Historically, there is nothing unprecedented in the incremental nature of Obama's legislation, only the scope. The legislative victories are huge when seen with a historical perspective, but I don't expect the other half of progressives to all of a sudden realize that. They're too busy focusing upon the hole, not the donut. But I agree a more partisan Obama might be helpful.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-07-07 07:05PM | 1 recs
RE: Surprised? Yes. For the same reasons? No.

You are correct about not running after the teabagger vote. The Republicans are pushing a dialouge that there is a growing number of Democrats who are Teabaggers. That may play into a campaign strategy of trying to peel off some centrist Dems for the fall, but fighting for them is a resource trap , just the same way the Hillary supporters were so concerned about Obama not appealing to the 'Reagan Democrats". Obama didn't fall for for that trap in '08, so  instead he GOTV and grew the base instead of appealing to a base that has been lukewarm in recent years or just have left the party alltogether.

At some point in time, Democrat strategists need to realize that Democrats in Western Penneslyvania and Ohio, are NOT the core of the party.

Fall 2010 needs to be about highlighting the immigration bill that the teabaggerslove so much, and going after the Latino vote. Link local Republican candidates  to Rand Paul's vision of America where discrimination is unfortunate but legal, and watch them try to distance themself from the tea Party. At the same time, remind minorities and women that it wasn't that long ago that discrimination was legal.Have the DNC run ads where the audio of Rand Paul's interview with Rachel Meaddow is playing while we see a video of a male smacking a female coworker on the butt.

Running against the Tea Party will work everywhere where we want a seat. The places that it doesn't are too conservative for us to care about anyway...

Obama? Obama who?

by xodus1914 2010-07-08 01:20PM | 0 recs
Anyone think...

if these numbers hold that Obama will be brilliant enough to step aside and let Hillary do the job? Her polls numbers are great with all demographics and SURPRISE the "polarizing" Hillary isn't polarizing at all.....

by nikkid 2010-07-08 12:43AM | 1 recs
RE: Anyone think...

No. I think re-election matters more to Obama than anyone can imagine. He was already mentioning it in his '08 victory speech.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-07-08 09:15AM | 0 recs
Forget Hillary... poll numbers are great!

Of course, I don't have the responsibility of governing; making the hard decisions to drag those numbers down. And neither does she!

On November 12, 1938, FDRs disapproval reached a record high of 46% in Gallup as people became frustrated with the pace of recovery from the Great Depression. Yesterday, Barack Obama's disapproval rating tied for the third straight day at its highest level at... 46% in gallup.

To suggest that these numbers are cause for resignation in this climate is just plain pumatarded.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-07-08 10:28AM | 0 recs
Aww how cute, a brainwashed CONTARD

obviously a Faux viewer, Beck believer and Limbaugh worshiper.  Why are you here?  go into your neck of the woods where all the nimrods live.

Stay in your cozy little clueless world.

by BJ 2010-07-08 01:43AM | 0 recs
why write all this...

without addressing the question of HOW Obama courts these disaffected indies? 

i suggest to you that in an environment as toxic as we've got, the only winning strategy is a base strategy.  everyone's unhappy, pissed off, disaffected from that little bubble of "hopey changey" we had in 2008.  the folks who pounded pavement for Obama in '08 would gladly do it again if they felt like the President shared their values and if the Obama administration had held on to them tightly enough to be able to command them like an army, as before.  instead, this administration really seems to have gone about almost immediately distancing themselves from the base and writing off liberals knee-jerk (thinking they could defuse the socialist name calling) while pursuing a quixotic magical bipartisan pony.  so here we are, yes, i do think we are in agreement here, at the precipice of a disastrous loss of seats that will be blamed principally upon Obama -- rightly so -- but for the wrong reasons.

by dasmeer 2010-07-08 02:39AM | 0 recs
RE: why write all this...

Was gonna get into it but the post was already long. Kinda late for a base strategy given that relies on policy from the party in power.

Obama is using '10 as a test lab for '12. For example, immigration, its not going anywhere, but they are driving a wedge on it while registering/GOTV operations for Latino's to see if they 1) can generate new voters, and 2) can do it on issue that doesn't piss off other needed block (somewhat) white independent and suburb voters enugh that they pull a R lever. The whole DNC '10 operation, about $50M worth, is designed to see what works and what doesn't, for '12. Of course, that was what '09 was for-- obviously some of the crew were asleep at the wheel.

The Obama team knows they can't replicate '08, so are going for a more 'base' strategy of more latinos. Its full of guesses and assumptions, but in this environment, its all they got.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-07-08 09:13AM | 0 recs
RE: Big F'n Disaster

Obama can recapture a lot of independents through mere competence and leadership. When he goes around alienating the base of the party but still comes across as a partisan guy in these polls, it just boggles the mind how incompetent his staff is at messaging. Our company healthcare premiums have shot up this year. It put people like me in a company dominated by right wingers in a bad position of having to defend Obama.


The financial bailout with Geithner failed to get enough financial reforms in return. Some of us were willing to live with the bailouts if we could get something tangible back. After all those bailouts, can someone tell me with a straight face that Obama succeeded in preventing a future problem like this?


The BP mess was indicative of the incompetence of Salazar. Obama has kowtowed to the blue dogs . Yet one of the main blue dogs failed to demonstrate government accountability with his utter failure at reforming MMS.


Obama has looked like a joke when it comes to scaling back the wars. So he has lost the liberals while not gaining the support of the neocons. He is in nowhere land.

If OBama can show some competence at something, he will easily win back the independents.

by Pravin 2010-07-08 12:15PM | 0 recs
RE: Big F'n Disaster

You are right the messaging of the Obama team has been an unmitigated disaster. I mean where to begin, he has no attack dog, the BP is so gaffe-tastic that hardly anyone takes him seriously. Then you have the political team that pushed bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship, diluting every bill, making every backroom deal possible, selling out on every progressive principle to alienate the base just so that Obama can appear above the fray. What happened? The Republicans pounded him, in foreign policy the Israelis pounded him, he lost his base, he lost all the goodwill in the middle east, leaving him in the midst of a chaotic situation where he has to explain how great his reform is.

If Obama thought that he could come to Washington and wave a magic wand and heal the partisanship he was proven wrong and very brutally so. Instead he pursued that same deluded bipartisanship for nearly 2 years now to no avail. Now his "mayberry machiavellis" (h/t HuffPo) have embraced the far-right economic agenda because they frankly lost the messaging battle. So we have an incompetent core group of advisers in Jarrett, Axelrod, Gibbs,Summers and Emmanuel, doubling down with some equally incompetent cabinet members like Geithner and Salazar. Now we can sit back and watch all our campaigning in 2008 be flushed down the commode. The only impetus that they are using to "motivate" the base now is fear. Cue Tom Tomorrow.

by tarheel74 2010-07-08 04:09PM | 0 recs

 Polls are only useful in showing just how many ignorant people there are out there. It appears that the people here want the President to spend his time worrying about the polls. I expect he will spend his time more wisely. The following is an example:

by QTG 2010-07-08 02:29PM | 0 recs
RE: Mydd 2.0

The image that looked like it would post, didn't. The poll example is at the krugman link.

by QTG 2010-07-08 02:31PM | 0 recs
Mydd 2.1 will need a logic button

1. This diary states that poll numbers are important.

2. Paul Krugman is always right.

3. Paul Krugman says polls are stupid.

By that logic...

by NoFortunateSon 2010-07-08 05:56PM | 0 recs
Next try some intellectual honesty

If you have to talk about poll driven policy at least have the honesty to cite Krugman this week, where he bemoans this administration's embracement of far-right economic policy based on polls.

by tarheel74 2010-07-08 04:21PM | 0 recs
If you can't tell commentary from fact,... have bigger problems.

Obama's not up for reelection until 2012. He really doesn't care about the polls today. And he shouldn't.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-07-08 04:56PM | 0 recs
Umm, there is an election in 2010

An election that will determine whether he gets impeached or not. 

by Kent 2010-07-08 05:18PM | 0 recs
They can try

It's terrible politics. With the economy in this shape and no crime, other than being PWB/PWD, they can go for a repeat of 1998.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-07-08 05:50PM | 0 recs
RE: If you can't tell commentary from fact,...

If you really believe that then I have a bridge in Alaska......never mind

by tarheel74 2010-07-08 05:21PM | 0 recs
That Krugman is giving his opinion?

That as smart a man he is, he is still a commercial commentator? That his opinion is one of many different opinions?

Please, by all means disprove that.


by NoFortunateSon 2010-07-08 05:51PM | 0 recs
Go to the center? What do you think has ben failing?

Needed: Better messaging; bash Republican obstructionism and corporate support; remind voters of Bush administration budget-busting, planet-busting, war-profiteering; appeal to base; GOTV; appeal to base; GOTV; appeal to base, GOTV.  Repeat until it fuckin' sinks in.

by Thaddeus 2010-07-08 05:49PM | 1 recs

My chief criticism of the diary is that the fundamental assertion is schizophrenic. Jerome is assembling a pastiche of data to justify the conclusion aforethought that Obama is too liberal.

Jerome argues that Obama needs to go to the middle to win over the independents.


And the kicker: Many of the Independents or soft Democrats that Democratic candidates most need to win, identify themselves with the Tea Party... among the 54% of Democrats and Independents among the wider population polled by Gallup, 39% of that total  are Tea Party supporters. Democrats have no chance at all of winning those 39% of different type of Democratic voters and pure Independents? We might as well give up! Actually, its the only chance they have at winning.

Obama is too polarizing too. Yet the chief concern for the midterms is base turnout.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-07-08 07:28PM | 0 recs


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