Obama and Independents: Cracks beneath the surface
posted at 1:33 pm on July 9, 2009 by Karl
The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza says that 59 is the most important number in politics today;
That’s the percent of independent voters who approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing, according to Gallup polling conducted over the past month.
Obama’s numbers among independents are down slightly from Gallup polling in January (62 percent approve) but consistent with where he stood in March (59 percent) and April (60 percent).
As long as Obama’s job approval numbers stay in the 55 percent plus range among independents, the Administration is not likely to make any major course corrections.
A Quinnipiac University poll of voters in economically troubled Ohio, released Tuesday, showed Obama’s approval rating slipping 8 points, to below 50 percent, from a poll two months earlier, with a plurality of 48 percent of independent voters disapproving of his job performance. A Public Policy Polling [PPP] survey in Virginia found Obama’s approval and disapproval numbers effectively tied, with independents disapproving of the president’s job performance, 52 percent to 38 percent.
“That is fairly consistent with all our polling around the country — Obama tends to be really well-liked personally, but he’s starting to lose a majority of the independents,” said Public Policy’s Dean Debnam. Democrats have “had long enough in some voters’ minds that they’re getting blame for nothing happening, and Republicans are scaring them around health care and tax increases.”
Fred Bauer (via Ed Morrissey) notes Obama’s slippage in a variety of polls from SurveyUSA, led by slides in independent support. Bauer also links to the roundup from PPP (a Democratic firm) stating that “[i]t’s been seven weeks now since we put out any poll- national or state level- that showed Barack Obama’s approval rating over 50% with independents.” In addition to the the national poll (with 49% of independents disapproving), the states include Virginia, New Jersey, Ohio, Wisconsin, Alabama and West Virginia. The erosion actually goes back further — independents were split on Obama in Colorado as far back as April.
Indeed, in April, PPP was already noting that Democratic Senators are lagging with independents.
As NRO’s Jim Geraghty tweets, “[t]he Quinnipiac poll went a long way toward changing DC’s conventional wisdom this week. Old: Obama still popular. New: Is He In Trouble?” Those looking at a Gallup poll of adults may not be asking that question… yet. But people looking at polls of likely voters in bellwether states, and states with hot elections in 2010, are asking. And probably wondering what those numbers will look like if — as widely predicted — unemployment continues to rise well into next year.