The recent NPR survey conducted jointly between POS and GQR underscores the biggest change in the President’s fortunes in the first six months of the Obama Administration. The tide of intensity of public opinion is now moving solidly against Barack Obama — both politically and on policy.
(This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of NPR or GQR).
While the President still has good personal ratings, his job rating gap has closed. However, perhaps more importantly, as many voters strongly disapprove of Obama’s job handling (34%) as strongly approve (33%). For comparison, in March on the NPR survey, Obama had an intensity advantage of 38% strongly approve/27% strongly disapprove.
Thus, there has been a net twelve point negative shift in intensity for Obama. Overall, his approval rating dropped 13 net points, so this is NOT a case where voters have been moving only in the middle — from somewhat approve to somewhat disapprove. Instead, voters who don’t like Obama feel quite strongly. Given the strong start to his Administration, it’s amazing how quickly Obama’s intensity numbers have slipped away.
Looking at intensity on his policies, there are two questions that jump out. The first is a paired statement on voters’ views of the economy:
“President Obama’s economic policies have run up a record federal deficit while failing to end the recession of slow the record pace of job losses
…OR. . .
“President Obama’s economic policies helped avert an even worse crisis, and are laying the foundation for our eventual economic recovery.”
While the overall spread is relatively tight — 45% say Obama’s policies have helped and 48% say he’s failed — there is a significant difference on intensity. Fully 38% strongly agree with the “record deficit/failing to end the recession” while 29% strongly agree with the pro-Obama statement — a nine point intensity gap.
Finally, asked whether they favor or oppose the Obama/Dem Congress health care plans, 42% favor/47% oppose overall. However, by intensity there is a 14 point gap — 25% strongly favor, and 39% strongly oppose.
The intensity gap is double digits across most larger subgroups — men (18 points) and women (11 points), voters over age 30 (including older women), voters with at least some college or college degrees, and married voters, (18 points with married men, 26 points with married women).
For a President, intensity is not necessarily cast in stone. It moves around, based on how voters feel about the President, the economy, and his policies. Surveys are a snapshot in time, with intensity providing the sharpest focus. Right now, it’s hard to see any picture other than a President at a tipping point of public opinion.