Barack Obama and the Curse of the Mid-term Elections

Barack Obama must not like his fellow Democrats.  How else can we explain that the man with the golden political touch when he is on the ballot is political absinthe in the midterms.

In our latest national survey, our pre-election poll done October 30-November 2, Obama’s approval rating of 41{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve/56{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove is lower than any of the other Presidents who ran into significant mid-term election trauma.  Lower than Clinton in 1994.  Lower than Bush in 2006.  Lower even than Obama in 2010:

chart 1

The President’s numbers are terrible with key groups in the electorate:

Among white women, Obama has a 36{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve/61{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove rating. (Note to media: see, it’s more than just angry white men!)

  • With Independents, his job rating is an underwhelming 31{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve/63{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove.
  • Seniors don’t like him. Obama has just a 34{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve/63{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove rating.

Obama also has a problem with voters who are all but certain to turn out.  We used an RBS (Registration Based Sample) so we were able to track how many times each respondent had voted in the past four elections.

Among those who have voted in four of the last four elections, Obama’s rating is just 40{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve/59{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove.  Among those who voted in both 2010 and 2012, he’s at 40{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve/58{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove.

Further underscoring the Democratic Party’s problems, the mood of the country is more negative now than in 1994, 2006, and 2010.  Only 27{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} say the country is going in the right direction, while 67{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} say it is off on the wrong track.

By partisanship, Independents look a lot more like Republicans than Democrats on this measure.  While GOPers are very negative (6{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} right direction/93{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} wrong track), Independents are not much different in their pessimism (16{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} right direction/71{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} wrong track).  Democrats are modestly optimistic (52{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} right direction/40{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} wrong track).

The survey was conducted October 30-November 2 among 800 likely voters, including 240 cell phone interviews, and has a margin of error of +3.46{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 95 out of 100 cases.


Public Opinion Strategies