Oh God, Book III: Not A Smash Hit

For a President that the media has both compared to God, and worshiped like one, Barack Obama has fallen on some tough times.  Not horrendous times, but he’s not exactly walking on water any more.  The latest poll conducted by GQR and POS highlights some of the public opinion challenges that have slowed Obama’s direct ascension into heaven.

(This analysis does not reflect the opinions of GQR or NPR.  For the GQR perspective, click here.  And, for the NPR story, click here.)  Both are worth reading.

A number of challenges stand out for Obama:

  • It’s not so much that his approval rating is down to 53%, while his disapproval rating is up to 42%.  That’s, at worst, mixed.  Remember, George W. Bush beat John Kerry at a time when Bush had a 49% approve/48% disapprove rating.  And, that was essentially the high point of the second Bush term.   Instead, it’s that already as many people strongly disapprove (34%) as strongly approve (33%).  Thus, intensity is turning against Obama.
  • Voters oppose Obama’s health care plan — just 42% favor it, while 47% oppose it.  Stan Greenberg made the case that the plan is at a tipping point for public opinion, but once Obama has a specific plan to sell, the data will improve.  That may be true short-term, but with only 25% strongly favoring what they are hearing so far, and 39% strongly opposed, Obama is losing the intensity fight.  Certainly a lot depends on the details of the bill, but voters clearly question whether Obama is more snake oil salesman on health care than he is successful faith healer.
  • There is significant skepticism toward the impact of Obama’s economic policies.  By a 48%-45% margin, voters say that “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” instead of his “economic policies helped avert an even worse crisis, and are laying the foundation for our eventual economic recovery.”  Again, intensity is problematic for him — 38% strongly agree with the “record deficit/failing to end the recession” while 29% strongly agree with the pro-Obama statement.

Overall, Obama’s approval has dropped thirteen net points in the four months since the last NPR poll.  And, the shift has come almost entirely on intensity.  He’s gone from 38% strong approve/27% strong disapprove in March to 33% strong approve/34% strong disapprove now.

Looking at subgroups, the shift has come nearly equally with men (-11) and women (-15).  Keep in mind, however, women (56% approve/38% disapprove) are still much more positive then men (49%-46%).

Independents have dropped from 53%-41% to 45%-46% — a net negative thirteen point shift.  GOPers dropped a net 20 points to 15% approve/79% disapprove.  Obama still walks on water with Dems — he’s got a 90% approve/6% disapprove rating with them.  The latter group will move slowly — Independents are the key to watch.  If Obama goes up it will be because of Independents.  Down?  A further slide with Independents and some more erosion with partisans.

Conservatives have really turned against Obama — moving from 36%-56% to 23%-71%.

Obama’s numbers have dropped the least with college-educated women, and dropped the most with non-college men.

The President may be as easygoing as George Burns, but Americans are no longer putting him up on a pedestal.

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