In perusing Rasmussen’s latest political polling, an interesting fact popped out on their war-on-terror survey. Amid quite a bit of good news, including more confidence among voters in the effort and a declining sense that the terrorists have the initiative, comes this comparison between Barack Obama and George Bush:
Over half (52%) of voters say the situation in Iraq will get better in the next six months. That is up from 46% last month and also a new high water mark of optimism.
Just 20% now say the situation in Iraq will get worse over the coming months.
What’s changed in the last month? We haven’t changed policies, or even troop levels. After signing the SOFA two months ago, the situation has been quite static.
Well, except for one thing:
Though he’s only been in the White House slightly more than two weeks, President Obama is already receiving higher marks on his handling of the Iraq situation than his predecessor. Forty-two percent (42%) of voters rate Obama’s performance on Iraq good or excellent, while 17% give him a poor rating. President Bush’s final ratings on the war showed that 34% said good or excellent, while 45% said he was doing a poor job.
That’s a 28-point delta on “poor” between Bush and Obama … and for what? How has Obama changed directions on Iraq in the three weeks since taking office? He hasn’t. In fact, he appears to be slowly and quietly reverting back to the Bush position of long-term presence in Iraq.
And yet, survey respondents clearly see a massive difference between Bush and Obama on Iraq, based on nothing but the change of residents at the White House. Call it the Obamessiah Effect; his very presence makes unpopular policies suddenly more attractive.
In this case, the proximate effect is welcome, as a withdrawal from Iraq would hurt long-term American interests, and apparently the Iraqis agree that it would hurt their interests as well. However, a cult of personality has never — never — benefited a democracy. This irrational reaction bodes ill for our country, if it continues.