Does Obama’s personal favorability rating matter?

posted at 9:25 am on August 22, 2011 by Karl

I really don’t want to single out National Journal’s Reid Wilson, because he’s far from the only one in the establishment media selling the idea that Pres. Obama’s personal approval ratings may save him:

President Obama, whose job-approval ratings are mired well south of 50 percent, has an important factor breaking his way as he seeks another term: Americans still overwhelmingly like the guy.

There is a partial correlation, pollsters say, between a politician’s job-approval ratings and favorability ratings. Favorability ratings generally represent a ceiling, above which job-approval ratings do not rise. And poor job-approval ratings, over the long term, can prove a drag on an incumbent’s favorability ratings. A short-term drop in approval ratings doesn’t portend a corresponding drop in personal favorability—but when favorable numbers begin to descend, it’s an ominous sign for anyone planning to run for another term.

Polling consistently shows that the majority of Americans view Obama favorably, even while they increasingly disagree with his job performance. There is a nuance to voter sentiment, pollsters say, one that provides Obama with a path to reelection. But the disconnect between the two numbers, if it ever shrinks, could also become a leading indicator that the president’s chances for a second term are headed south.

In a related vein, we find Larry Sabato shrugging off Obama’s sagging approval numbers:

The current White House certainly wouldn’t claim that President Obama is riding a crest of popularity just now. And there’s no guarantee that his wave will ever return. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that three predecessors — Truman, Reagan, and Clinton — were reelected after having suffered the dirty 30s in the first term. Three others were not reelected — Ford, Carter, and Bush 41 (and arguably LBJ as well, though he withdrew before facing the voters in 1968).

However, as John Podhoretz notes, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush went on either to lose the next election or to not run again; Reagan and Clinton hit the 30s, but their numbers rebounded because the economy improved. (Sabato is thinking of Truman in 1948 , which technically was not a re-election campaign and where Truman was buoyed by a rising economy more than most remember).

Moreover, Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels will tell you that a candidate’s personal favorability only matters at the margins:

Using survey data from the six most recent presidential elections, the contours are examines [sic] of the candidates’ images (traits), the bases of those images in voters’ more fundamental political predispositions, and the impact of voters’ assessments of the candidates’ personal qualities on individual voting behaviour and on aggregate election outcomes. In stark contrast with the popular conception of contemporary electoral politics as candidate–centred and image–driven, it is argued that candidates’ images are largely epiphenomenal and have only a modest impact on election outcomes. This conclusion is underlined by the analysis given of the 2000 (Bush vs. Gore) presidential election, in which the estimated impact of voters’ assessments of the candidates’ personalities was even smaller than in the previous five elections considered here, although quite probably large enough to be decisive in an election decided by a few hundred votes in a single state.

At this juncture, Pres. Obama and the Democrats have to hope that the sputtering economy only dials back the electorate from 2008 (where Democratic turnout exceeded GOP turnout by five percent) to a more evenly split electorate along the lines of 2000 or 2004. Under those circumstances, the GOP’s candidate selection — and the Democrat Media Complex’s ability to demonize that nominee — could make a difference in enough swing states to eke out a second term for Obama. Otherwise, the public’s cognitive dissonance between Obama’s personal and job approval ratings will be resolved by people deciding they do not like a guy who fails.

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Sickening. The lies never end.

Freelancer on August 22, 2011 at 9:29 AM

People will only say they “personally” like the guy out of fear of being called a racist. It’s that simple. Thank God we still have a secret ballot. You’ll see how much we “like” the guy in 11/12. No one likes a person so arrogant, and condescending as this man.

teacherman on August 22, 2011 at 9:30 AM

Go back to the 1993 NYC mayoral campaign. Liberal New York City voters thought David Dinkins was a “nicer” guy than Rudy Giuliani, but after four years in office, they also thought he was incompetent and was turning the city into a permanent he’ll-hole. And while they may have elected the man to feel good about themselves for putting the first African-American mayor in office under the notion that it would solve all the city’s racial problems, even liberal New Yorkers decided in the re-election attempt, nice guys finish last if they’re a miserable failure at running the government.

jon1979 on August 22, 2011 at 9:30 AM

He’s not a nice person to begin with and becomes angrier by the day. Anyone claiming he’s a nice guy is either too stupid to know better or is just lying.

JammieWearingFool on August 22, 2011 at 9:32 AM

What’s not to love about an arrogant douchebag who vacations in Hoity Toity while 14 million other Americans desperately search for work due to said douchebag’s ineptness.

Bishop on August 22, 2011 at 9:33 AM

I think the alternative media has a lot to say about how effective the LSM will be in demonizing the Republican candidate. Of course, the alternative media needs to be careful it doesn’t do the job for the LSM early on.

Extrafishy on August 22, 2011 at 9:37 AM

I think when a president is personally liked, they can recover more quickly from dips I the poles. As long as people still like the person they are willing to give him another chance. Once the voters turn and dislike not only the presidents performance but him as a persona, I think he’s sunk.

With this in mind, I think Obama’s decision to take such a high profile vacation to Martha’s Vineyard will prove to be disastrous.

DJ Rick on August 22, 2011 at 9:38 AM

we find Larry Sabato shrugging off Obama’s sagging approval numbers:

….

Shocking.

/

artist on August 22, 2011 at 9:39 AM

“When I said ‘hope and change’ I didn’t mean ‘change’ tomorrow!”

I don’t care if he or his supporters think he’s Mother Theresa, this is his John F. Kerry’s “I voted for it before I voted against it.”

Marcus on August 22, 2011 at 9:40 AM

The only thing that matters is the 16 million new Democrat voters…oooops…I mean illegal aliens Obama is granting amnesty to.

NickDeringer on August 22, 2011 at 9:40 AM

With this in mind, I think Obama’s decision to take such a high profile vacation to Martha’s Vineyard will prove to be disastrous.

DJ Rick on August 22, 2011 at 9:38 AM

Especially if teacherman is right and only a percentage of those polled are honest about his likability.

Extrafishy on August 22, 2011 at 9:41 AM

Anyone claiming he’s a nice guy is either too stupid to know better or is just lying.

JammieWearingFool on August 22, 2011 at 9:32 AM

Some will smile as they take things from you.

http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/1996/may/23/judge-orders-polite-robbery-suspect-jailed/

artist on August 22, 2011 at 9:42 AM

There’s also the theory around that survey participants are reluctant to say they don’t like Obama lest they be considered racist and that there’s therefore an over-reporting of his likability.

My wife had his personality pegged from the start.

Although I loathed his politics, I considered the public Obama personable for the first few months after his election, much to my own dismay.

We both spent our fair share of years in the little fiefdoms of college classes, and I’ll admit to being a fool for not seeing past that veneer that the Professor in Chief so carefully set up for himself.

He’s charming until you question his authority, and he still doesn’t know how to deal with that, other than with condescension and eventually by stamping his feet and walking out, as both Netanyahu and Cantor could confirm.

Drained Brain on August 22, 2011 at 9:42 AM

He’s a Communist implementing Cloward/Piven, what else is there to know? I’m sure once he had a few shots of Stolichnaya under his belt, Joseph Stalin probably had a great smile and a winning personality too.

adamsmith on August 22, 2011 at 9:44 AM

People will only say they “personally” like the guy out of fear of being called a racist. It’s that simple.

teacherman on August 22, 2011 at 9:30 AM

It is like you are reading my mind. Although he would be the friend I would want at the fantasy football draft so I would know which players to avoid since all of his picks seem to be the touch of death.

NotCoach on August 22, 2011 at 9:44 AM

People will only say they “personally” like the guy out of fear of being called a racist. It’s that simple. Thank God we still have a secret ballot. You’ll see how much we “like” the guy in 11/12. No one likes a person so arrogant, and condescending as this man.

teacherman on August 22, 2011 at 9:30 AM
*****************************************

You said in a few words what I took longer trying to say when I hadn’t read your post.

I also think his personality is being more and more revealed as his administration lurches along, and that most Americans don’t respect his passing the buck, whining and self-pitying, such as comparing himself to MLK and Lincoln, except he has it rougher than Lincoln did.

Drained Brain on August 22, 2011 at 9:51 AM

…since all of his picks seem to be the touch of death.

NotCoach on August 22, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Yes, including his picks for which Middle Eastern regime to uphold, and which to allow to topple. Upside down and backwards all the way.

And the point of my first comment is almost like teacherman’s, except that I don’t believe the poll results. I’m convinced that the results are lies intended to push people, as they allowed themselves to be pushed in 2008, into continuing to trust Obama. The media arm of the DNC presumed that they’d be able to get him re-elected through a combination of image and record, but they’ve resigned themselves to image only, since the record is pure vapor. It’s all they have left, push Obama’s “likability” while demonizing whoever the GOP frontrunner is. Meanwhile, Obama’s unmatched narcissism is making it harder and harder to maintain the faux veneer of “likability”, so they need to go on the offensive to “prove” it is still strong.

Freelancer on August 22, 2011 at 9:55 AM

Lost your job? House? Divorced? Hey, how about that payroll tax cut? Pretty great huh?

I doubt the large number of people really hurting or seeing those people around them hurt, in this country care much about the President’s personality.

Speakup on August 22, 2011 at 9:57 AM

teacherman on August 22, 2011 at 9:30 AM

Amen. How can the majority of Americans approve a personality who is egotistical, lies in every sentence, is arrogant, hypocritical, is thin skinned, and thinks the world revolves around him. Don’t think so.

Christian Conservative on August 22, 2011 at 9:57 AM

Moreover, Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels will tell you that a candidate’s personal favorability only matters at the margins…

Agreed, and I think this is pretty obvious from the four graphs shown. Other than during the impeachment trial of The Clenis — when his performance as President received much better ratings than he did, personally — the favorability and approval numbers are almost identical.

Which is to say that as O’Bozo has demonstrated his stupidity, ignorance, and incompetence, his personal favorability has plummeted along with his approval numbers, from almost 80% to 50% or less.

Americans still overwhelmingly like the guy

Unfortunately for the idiot who wrote the piece, his graph does not support his premise. Maybe he should have read that before saying such stupid things.

Jaibones on August 22, 2011 at 9:57 AM

Another suckers rally today.
Now that the retail investors have been all but driven from the markets and all we have left are the algo driven HFT computers we can expect yet another irrational (if not short lived) rally in the markets today. In part the delusional will interpret the fall of Kaddafi as the harbinger of some new stability for North Africa. The TV pundits have already started with the lollipops and roses meme for the aftermath in Tripoli. I wonder if In-Trade has a bet on how long it will take for it to fall apart into chaos if not outright tribal warfare.
But never mind that, everyone is anticipating the DJIA to be up today following the European markets and a lowering in the gold price on the London markets. The flurry of emails filling my in box on all the supposed “hot buys” has become one of my favorite forms of entertainment. They all can be summed up in one sentence: “This is the bottom you have to buy now or get left behind by a resurging market!” I guess they would have us ignore that each new “rally” has a half life even shorter than the previous one and is followed by an even larger decline. They’re trolling for suckers but I’m not one of them. As far as I’m concerned the fine print disclosure statement, or as they see it “get out of jail free card” is no pass for the criminal nature of this activity of preying upon the scared and uninformed.
If one willingly jumps into a tank full of sharks knowing full well that you might get eaten it’s one thing, but when the sharks are chumming the waters to entice the unwilling and uninformed to jump right into their greedy jaws it’s quite another.
But then it is just this kind of criminal fraud that got us into this mess and not a single one of these rapacious monsters of Wall Street has seen a single day in jail never mind in court, why then should we expect them to change their behavior. The SEC and the CFTC are staffed with former and future employees of the very institution they are allegedly regulating so don’t expect any justice any time soon. And when the pressure does begin to mount you can bet that the worst of them will already have left and be residing in Liechtenstein or someplace else with no extradition treaty and safely out of reach.

LCT688 on August 22, 2011 at 9:57 AM

Another difference……… The internet.

Bush never recovered after his ratings went down , because the internet doesn’t allow for issues to disappear…..ever

Sure, the MSM is liberal and hammered Bush over and over. But now, I dont know many peope who get their news from conventional places and even less that believe the reporting.
Every gaffe , every lie, contradiction , even every over used phrase is Obama’s third curse.
The first and second, of course, are his posititons and record.

LeeSeneca on August 22, 2011 at 9:59 AM

Not to sound too pedantic, but really, y’all need to do some review on public polling accuracy and methodology.

First, on the Podhoretz claims, they are based in an inaccurate and inappropriate use of comparative populations. I mentioned that when it was posted here

Larry Bartels of Princeton notes that decisions on personal favorability is important on the margins…Well, Yeah, that is how undecided voters make decisions, on the margins. And even more important, Bartels’ data is not based on conjoint analysis and in fact from a statistical accuracy perspective, that is the only way you can accurately predict choices between final candidates when using a specifically identified attribute for decision-making.

Like I said before, I want Obama to lose, but obviously faulty analysis does not contribute to making that happen

georgealbert on August 22, 2011 at 10:01 AM

Rasmussen has bho at -24 today matching his lowest since elected! We can just pray it goes down more. I can not think of one single thing I can say positive about bho! He is a horrible evil man, IMO!
L

letget on August 22, 2011 at 10:04 AM

Another sign of the times (I know, it’s not a scientific survey) is that even the NYT is writing about voters angry with Obama in Weiner’s district.

Drained Brain on August 22, 2011 at 10:08 AM

It’s early here and I admittedly skimmed when I saw something about this last night and now this…but what are Obama’s personal approval numbers exactly?

Also, the media did this with Clinton…stressed in reports how people really really like the guy despite his impish, mischievous transgressions and pushed that on behalf of their guy. But when GWB was in they strived mightily for years to drive his numbers down (Katrina finally broke that camel’s back and people said to hell with it) and waved away when not outright ignoring that people also continued to like GWB personally. Looks like this angle is a glimmer of hope for the media but who really likes Obama personally besides Dems and Mitt?

Cindy Cooper on August 22, 2011 at 10:15 AM

I doubt the large number of people hurting or seeing those people around them hurt, in this country care much about the President’s personality.
Speakup on August 22, 2011 at 9:57 AM

My thoughts exactly. Only the truly self-centered could find happiness amoungst such misery. I take far less joy in what I’ve been blessed with these days because so many of my neighbors are suffering. This is the true indictment of the Progressive/Union types who only care about their desires and the hell with everyone else.

teacherman on August 22, 2011 at 10:38 AM

Americans still overwhelmingly like the guy don’t want to be called RAAAAAAAAAAACIST by admitting the guy has all the arrogance of pre-French Revolution royalty and all the likability of a case of bubonic plague.

crazy_legs on August 22, 2011 at 10:47 AM

People will only say they “personally” like the guy out of fear of being called a racist. It’s that simple. Thank God we still have a secret ballot. You’ll see how much we “like” the guy in 11/12. No one likes a person so arrogant, and condescending as this man.

teacherman on August 22, 2011 at 9:30 AM

Bingo! Think “Bradley Effect”…

Tim Zank on August 22, 2011 at 10:48 AM

the only reason Obama will be elected is because republicans can’t field a decent candidate. That is the Only reason he will be elected.

tomas on August 22, 2011 at 10:56 AM

it grows more and more interesting how delusional some become. Two points:

(1) His personal approval ratings are being buoyed by the Bradley Effect.

(2) I have had to fire a few people in my career whom I liked but who could not get the job done..

..and (3) (NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition) one hopes this whistling past the graveyard continues, lulling these pathetic miscreants into beatific somnolence at the thought of their messiah once more ascending the throne for another four years.

The last thing we want to do is to arouse their anxiety while we become overconfident.

The War Planner on August 22, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Bingo! Think “Bradley Effect”…

Tim Zank on August 22, 2011 at 10:48 AM

..oh bugger!

The War Planner on August 22, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Although I loathed his politics, I considered the public Obama personable for the first few months after his election, much to my own dismay.

Drained Brain on August 22, 2011 at 9:42 AM

Same here. But his likableness turned out to have a short shelf life, turning into contempt within the year.

petefrt on August 22, 2011 at 11:58 AM

Likability isn’t a trait that people look for in a person who has a difficult job in turning anything around. Chainsaw Al Dunlap is the typical example of this. When companies get into trouble and they call him in to lead them out of it, we all know that jobs will be chopped. It’s a difficult decision, but it’s for the best.

If likability is the leading trait for a Presidential candidate, then we will see celebrities (like we do know) run on the platform of “if you like me, then I’m the best candidate”. That’s why this President is having such a tough time. Likability and results are two different measuring sticks.

djaymick on August 22, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Doesn’t take much of a stick to measure Obama’s results. Maybe the edge of a leaf.

Freelancer on August 22, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Total B/S…nobody polled me on his “personal likeability”. I think every facet of the man is an utter and complete FAIL…and I do NOT think I`m alone in that assessment.

NY Conservative on August 22, 2011 at 12:38 PM

People will only say they “personally” like the guy out of fear of being called a racist. It’s that simple. Thank God we still have a secret ballot. You’ll see how much we “like” the guy in 11/12. No one likes a person so arrogant, and condescending as this man.

teacherman on August 22, 2011 at 9:30 AM

Bingo. Personal likeability is only a fallback default position. Same with ‘he’s a good father’, -because he’s not a good father. I can’t stand the jackass and I don’t see how anyone can find him likeable.

Given a choice of who in the White House to have a beer with, I’d choose among the long-time help staff. They must have some great tales.

slickwillie2001 on August 22, 2011 at 12:48 PM

IT’S OUR PROGRAMMING, STUPID!

Thanks to our culture and media of the time, we abused minorities.

Now we have been so totally inundated with the “love the diversity” message that many people get a rush from liking minorities and finding ways to help them any way they can. I have actually seen it give these folks a rush which they couldn’t explain later. Impossible? Heck, look at how they get over sports teams!

Liking The One is similar to other programming which I can’t discuss since I am not trained in the discipline.

IlikedAUH2O on August 22, 2011 at 1:56 PM

P. S. The above programming was augmented with the mag covers and the other adoring coverage in 2008.

I really thought that He and Biden we going to do big ____ deals with it.

IlikedAUH2O on August 22, 2011 at 1:58 PM

Hey, what about the unicorns, Hollywood, that darling pony-dance, that faabul-louse speaking voice?! And Black is still the New Black. Isn’t it? Hey, unicorns!

/ Obama relection fevah.

Lourdes on July 13, 2012 at 6:45 PM

Obama should toss in his towel and pursue a fabulous Hollywood-esque Talk Show. He could dance, he could sing, he could talk-the-talk with ever so special guests who could also talk-the-talk, he could sing, he could dance, he could just be so fabulous.

Lourdes on July 13, 2012 at 6:47 PM

He’s not a nice person to begin with and becomes angrier by the day. Anyone claiming he’s a nice guy is either too stupid to know better or is just lying.

JammieWearingFool on August 22, 2011 at 9:32 AM

DITTO.

Lourdes on July 13, 2012 at 6:50 PM

“They spinnin, they spinnin!”

———————————————

Anyone who doesn’t recognize that line should or might, if you can, listenn to one of Chris Rock’s comedy routines. Noting that it’s Rock who is today rationalizing keeping Obama in office “just because he’s Black”: vote for him because you feel pity for his incompetence because he’s Black, in other words.

“They spinnin, they spinnin!”

Lourdes on July 13, 2012 at 6:53 PM

Caution, x-rated language:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZYryyA28go

Lourdes on July 13, 2012 at 6:54 PM