Sunday’s Rasmussen tracking poll has some good news, and some bad news:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Sunday shows that 33% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty percent (40%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -7 (see trends).
This is the first update based entirely upon interviews conducted since the State-of-the-Union Address and it reflects a bounce for the President. The number who Strongly Approve is the highest in more than four months (since September) and the overall Approval Index rating is the best in more than three months (since October).
The bounce comes almost entirely from those in the president’s party. Sixty-four percent (64%) of Democrats now Strongly Approve, up from 50% before the speech. However, the speech appears to have had the opposite impact on unaffiliated voters. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 50% now Strongly Disapprove. That’s up from 42% before the speech. The next few days should give an indication as to whether these changes will fade or if they signify the beginning of a new phase in the political environment.
Pres. Obama also got a temporary bump after his September speech on healthcare reform before a joint session of Congress, but it was no game-changer.
If the next week’s polls continue to show that Obama helped himself with Democrats, but hurt himself with unaffiliated voters, it will be cause for worry at the White House. A recent GQR poll conducted for Democracy Corps and the Center for American Progress showed that Democrats have lost 6% in the generic ballot since 2008 due to people switching from Democrats to Republicans, and only 3% from projected lower Democratic turnout. Indeed, two recent Democracy Corps polls suggest that people who voted in 2008, but who are unlikely to vote in 2010, are much more positive about the direction of the country than people who are likely to vote in 2010. Lefty blogger Chris Bowers theorizes that there may be nothing that Democrats can do to bring these “drop-off” voters to the polls in November. “Exciting the base” Democrats may be pushing on a string.
In sum, the immediate post-SOTU polling may show only a temporary bump in approval for Pres. Obama — and he might be hoping it is temporary.