The president’s poll numbers are no longer sagging. They’re just plain down.
Looking at the Gallup poll’s daily tracking trend line of President Obama’s job approval, the president has been at 45 or 46 percent since the end of last month.
At no time in the first five months of the year was Obama upside-down for multiple days in a week. And during the same period, never did Obama’s approval drop to 45 percent. But in June, it tested that bottom in five daily tracks.
Will there be resistance at that level to dropping lower? Or is the core of Obama’s support — his base — still smaller yet, allowing his approval ratings to drop even more?
I say he’ll test the low forties before the year is out, maybe even this quarter. What is going on?
Low approval ratings for presidents or governors, especially those that drift down, usually have many causes. But at this time in his second term, a goodly amount of malaise with the incumbent is bound to be “Obama fatigue.”
People just get tired of public figures, especially those who aren’t succeeding. Even Obama’s staunchest supporters from the 2008 and 2012 campaigns were probably annoyed recently when the president lectured on the merits of the National Security Agency’s domestic spying programs.
“Who is this guy?” many might have wondered aloud. “I’ll be glad when he’s finally gone, when we can get a real progressive in there.”
In these circumstances, whenever people get sick of the sound of your voice and the look of your face, governors can hide. But for Obama and other presidents, that’s just not possible. The cameras and microphones follow you everywhere. In some sense, the lower his numbers get, the more newsworthy he — and our malaise over his job performance — becomes.
But Obama bears much of the blame for his plummeting poll numbers. He just doesn’t seem to care much anymore. The campaigner in chief now seems lackadaisical about pretty much everything. He no longer preens to please.
If anything, whenever he goes to the podium these days, he seems annoyed or disgruntled. I think I know the origin of his grumpiness.
Look, there is no doubt that Obama inherited a tough situation, both at home with the economy and abroad with some expensive wars. And it’s true that he is confronted with a recalcitrant Congress. The Republicans cut him no slack, and even his own Democrats can be annoying to him. A lot of his best political and policy hands have left for greener, more lucrative pastures. Putin is back. The Middle East is a mess. China is quirky. They won’t eat in Guantánamo.
Joblessness just won’t go away in places, especially some blue states. The healthcare plan rollout is turning into a nightmare that will get scarier between now and the 2014 congressional election.
And did I mention the House Republicans? Well, there will probably be more of them in 2015. So, in fact, there are many reasons for the president to feel blue.
The danger in all this is for the president to become dismissive of polls, the Congress, and so forth. Mark Twain syndrome can set in. Twain loved to lecture on the human condition, especially the sorry contribution of humankind to that condition. He was especially enamored of the term “idiots,” as in, “In the first place God made idiots,” and “suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
Twain might have been kidding. But Obama could think the author was onto something now, as he reads the polls and looks to Capitol Hill.
Hill is a pollster who has worked for Republican campaigns and causes since 1984.