Stop the presses (or the tweets)! Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s numbers are falling! Why not concern ourselves with that as 2012 nears. What about Obama’s numbers right now? They are tanking – big-time. A recent “news” article stated, “While the president remains personally popular …”
Certainly the Gallup Poll – the go-to polls for most cable news shows – put Obama’s “favorability ratings” among “adults” fairly high. There is, however, another prominent and respected polling firm: the Rasmussen Reports.
Look at CNN, the organization that markets itself as real, nonpartisan news. In a recent three-month period, there were 26 instances in which a CNN newscast used the words “Obama” and “approval” and “Gallup.” But the words “Obama” and “approval” and “Rasmussen” appeared in only one CNN news show.
What’s the diff?
Gallup samples “adults.” This includes people, especially the young and mostly liberal, who feel strongly about lots of things – until it’s time to show up and vote. Rasmussen, on the other hand, samples “likely voters” – the folks the politicians give a rip about. They vote them in office or throw them out.
Numbers go up and down. But next year – a semi-eternity in politics – the entire House goes up for re-election, as does a third of the Senate. As we approach this first referendum on Obama, politicians, if not CNN, pay attention to the “likelies.”
How are the likelies liking him now?
Likely voters now put Obama at less than 50 percent, below the 53 percent who voted for him in November. Of his performance, 29 percent say they “strongly approve.” But 39 percent say they “strongly disapprove.” That’s a minus 10. It’s down a tick from a recent minus 11-point gap – the worst ever for Obama. A president’s ability to push through his agenda turns on whether congresspersons back him. And they back him when they expect the voters to back them.
The President recently gave a health care-dominated press conference, leaving many more confused than before: Who pays? How much? What about the threat to quality? How can people “keep their coverage if they’re happy with it” if their employer dumps the plan in favor of a (initially) cheaper government alternative? Direct and indirect references to the Bush administration were frequent, always a winner in focus groups. Meanwhile, Obama flies around the country pressuring Congress to meet his ever-shifting self-imposed deadline to “get health care done.”
“Likely voters” fear a complete government takeover of the half of health care not already run (and dramatically under-funded) by government. They don’t buy Obama’s argument that to rescue the economy, we must, you know, spend more so that, well, we ultimately spend less. They dislike government running, bailing out and/or taking ownership stakes of financial firms and car companies. They loathe rewarding failure by giving taxpayer money to those who made the bad decisions that wrecked their companies. They think global warming, if not a crock, is at most low-priority – especially if an anti-global warming tax costs jobs and raises prices.
People worry about a government that runs annual deficits that add to a mounting national debt; that fails to secure our borders or to track and deport those who enter legally but overstay their visas; that can’t locate 300,000 illegals under deportation orders for crimes, including murder and attempted murder; and that operates government schools, which produce students who test poorly when measured against our Asian and European counterparts.
And Obama wants it to run something as complicated as health care?
If Obama is lucky, the health care push ends up with mostly cosmetic changes or, even better, falls through altogether. Ditto for a second “stimulus” package.
Former President Bill Clinton brags about his “successful” presidency as regards the economy, jobs and a balanced budget. But the Republican Congress stopped him from doing damaging stuff – the proposed multibillion-dollar economic “stimulus” and HillaryCare – and pressured him into doing positive things, such as NAFTA, welfare reform and cutting capital gains taxes. Then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich helped force a shutdown in government, resulting in a much smaller budget than Clinton intended.
Obama’s in trouble because of his policies. Seventy-six percent of likely voters describe him as “liberal,” and 48 percent call him “very liberal” – up 20 points from when he was elected. Forty percent of American adults, says Gallup, call themselves conservative, up from 37 percent in 2008. Thirty-nine percent consider themselves more conservative today than a few years ago, while only 18 percent say they are now more liberal. Even among Democrats, 34 percent say they are now more conservative, versus 23 percent who say they are more liberal.
Obama’s “change” consists of taxing, spending, borrowing and printing money. Yes, the bad news is that Bush – and his fellow Republicans – failed to abide by their stated fiscal principles. The really bad news is that Obama – and nearly all of the Democrats in Congress – want to abide by theirs.
Only by “failing” can Obama succeed. Keep your eye on the “likelies.”
COPYRIGHT 2009 LAURENCE A. ELDER
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