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Not Surprising, but Sooner than Expected

By Brian | July 22, 2009 | Share on Facebook

Two things in the news today that I fully expected to happen, but not as early as mid-July.

First, the Yankees have past the Red Sox in the American League East:

This usually doesn’t happen until some time in mid-September. And before anyone jumps all over me, yes, I know – it ain’t over until it’s over. I’m not declaring victory; I’m just saying it’s rare that the Red Sox choke relinquish first place so early in the year.

Second, President Obama has gone from “The One” to “The One Half”:

On inauguration day, 65% of the country approved of President Obama (44% of whom strongly approved) and only 35% disapproved (only 16% strongly disapproved). Today, those numbers are quite different. Only half of Americans approve of the President’s performance (51% approve, 47% disapprove), and among those who feel strongly, the numbers have passed the 50/50 tipping point, with just 29% strongly approving and 35% strongly disapproving.

This is, of course, the “campaign in poetry, govern in prose” phenomenon at work. On January 21, all President Obama had done was win an historic election and give a good inauguration speech. Today, we have auto bailouts, stimulus packages, healthcare proposals and more to consider – much more meat on the bones, so to speak. No one expected him to carry a 65% approval rating through his first term, but his aggressive approach to his first six months in office is certainly eating away at that “rock star” popularity he once enjoyed. It will be interesting to see if these numbers stabilize, or if the trend continues through to the midterm elections.

Topics: Political Rantings, Sports Talk | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Not Surprising, but Sooner than Expected”

  1. Jeff Porten says at July 25th, 2009 at 11:36 am :
    I’m struck that you think Obama’s approval ratings are dropping because he’s being too bold. I’d say that they’re dropping because he’s being too tepid.

    I’m one of the people who moved from “strongly approve” on 1/20 to “approve” today. Take your pick: compromises on health care, maintenance of Bush policies on Gitmo and wiretaps, bizarre choices at DoJ. The result is that the people who hate him continue to do so, while his most avid supporters are disappointed — which of course is the expected outcome of moderate policy.

    But there’s no way that’s an opening for the Republicans, unless they begin to get their act together. They were an imploded party on 1/20, and since then their leaders have done nothing but parrot the policies that they lost on in November — that is, those leaders who haven’t spectacularly imploded. I personally don’t much care who’s slept with whom, or who quit her office — but their voters? I suspect they might.

    My prediction: 50% is Obama’s baseline; it’ll take a major debacle for him to drop much beneath it. If everyone is correct that the stimulus takes hold later this year, watch for 1/20 numbers in 2010. Either way, I’m expecting Democratic majorities to increase in Congress, unless the GOP figures out how to come up with a coherent alternative to Obama. Democrats failed through 2006 because they weakly opposed, without presenting alternatives; same thing is happening now to the other side.

  2. Brian says at July 26th, 2009 at 10:08 pm :
    I think the folks that went from “strongly approve” to “approve” fall into two groups. The first is the group you’re in, who are disappointed that he didn’t completely revamp politics as we know them in six months. The second is a group who are shell shocked by just how much money he’s spent, and how big he’s predicting the deficit to get throughout his presidency (in sharp contrast to the “I’ll pay for every dollar I spend” campaign promises).

    I’m in the second group much more than the first. Plus, I’m a bit concerned about the invasiveness of some of his policies (in re: the auto, mortgage & credit card industries) It’s very ironic to me that the man who is better at inspiring others than any president we’ve seen in a long time chooses to get results by mandating them or controlling them himself, rather than inspiring others to achieve them. Put me down for “approve” to “neutral,” since I don’t think I was ever in the “strongly approve” bucket – mostly because I had a feeling some of this would happen.

    As for the Republicans, those are some nice talking points you’ve got there, but that’s about all they are. Weakness for Obama is strength for the Republicans, no matter how you slice it. If the midterms were today, the campaign ads practically write themselves, and every Democrat that voted party-line with Obama is susceptible to a no-name Republican who is swooping in to “save the Republican party & save us all from Obama” or some such vignette.

    Midterm elections almost always swing away from a new President’s party, since the Presidential election year had so much money & media behind the winning party’s candidate and benefited from all the national coverage. The big exception was in 2000/2002, when Bush’s coattails were non-existent (having lost the popular vote), and Democrats were able to stop the bleeding.

    I wouldn’t characterize a drop in Democratic majorities in Congress as an indictment of Obama’s presidency – merely the normal ebb and flow of national politics. And I think the idea of a “national Republican strategy” is irrevelant in the midterms. That’s 2012 talk, not 2010…


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