Obama’s Popularity/Policy Gap: Size Matters

So, our POS poll shows President Obama sitting on top of the world.  He’s got a 63% approval rating and he’s nearly single-handedly shifted the mood of the country from 12% right direction in November to 40% right direction now.  (Come on now, it’s certainly not the rising unemployment rate, the surging deficit, the flagging economy or the foreign entanglements that have made D partisans more positive about the direction of the country!)

In fact, our poll shows that fully 79% of voters say they “like” President Obama.  Even 58% of GOP’ers and 57% of McCain voters say they like him.  So, he should be home-free with his policies – leveraging his popularity into support for his programs like reforming health care, right?

Not so fast.  When voters are asked about President Obama AND his policies, it turns out that fully 25% of voters LIKE Obama, but dislike his policies.  Add that to the 17% who dislike Obama AND his policies, and you’ve got a 55%-42% split (including rounding) on President Obama’s policies.  That’s a 24-point popularity/policy gap!

And, among some key groups:

Independents:    28 point gap
White voters:     29 point gap
Seniors:             29 point gap

So, while these voters are saying they personally like President Obama, they’re not quite sure about the policies he’s pushing.  The real danger for Obama is if this popularity/policy gap turns into a popularity/PERFORMANCE gap.

Voters are generally rating the President now on effort, and he receives positive marks.  Soon, he’ll be judged on results, and the numbers may tell a different story.

Public Opinion Strategies